The government would requisition 8 million masks daily to ensure that the nation has sufficient supplies after a ban on mask exports is lifted on Monday next week, Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said yesterday.
“We have decided to lower the requirement from 12 million units to 8 million units per day, providing them [local mask suppliers] with 4 million more masks to sell freely according to market mechanisms,” Shen told reporters after a meeting with domestic mask manufacturers.
The figure was determined based on local market demand, Shen said, pointing to declining mask purchases as Taiwan gets its COVID-19 outbreak under control.
Photo: Huang Pei-chun, Taipei Times
However, “if the Central Epidemic Command Center’s [CECC] mask inventory falls below 100 million units, we would raise the requirement back to 12 million units [per day] for mask manufacturers,” Shen said.
The CECC’s mask inventory stands at between 200 million and 300 million units.
The mask rationing system, which limits mask purchases for each adult to nine masks every two weeks at a fixed price of NT$5 per mask, would remain in place, it said.
“This is the perfect timing ... companies can now vie for a share of overseas markets,” Shen said, adding that the Ministry of Economic Affairs would help with quality control to maintain the reputation of masks made in Taiwan.
Local firms are expected to sell and export 7 million to 8 million masks per day from next week, the ministry said.
While daily surgical mask production in Taiwan totals 20 million units, the number is expected to decline by 5 million units daily after the military withdraws its workforce from the production lines.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, the government has provided mask manufacturers with military personnel to help ramp up production to alleviate a shortage of masks in the domestic market.
Seeking to maintain the local mask supply at a healthy level, the government would continue to fix the price of essential raw materials used in their production, such as melt-blown mask filters, Shen said.
“We would help stabilize the price and ensure the quantity,” he said, adding that 8 million masks use up about 11 tonnes of melt-blown filters.
Regarding the local production of N95 respirators, Shen said the government would still requisition about 100,000 units per day from four local firms.
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