The Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment.
The increased budget comprises a special budget of NT$210 billion, up from the NT$60 billion already passed by the Legislative Yuan; NT$140 billion — up from NT$40 billion — to be appropriated from the general budget; and NT$700 billion in loans to industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei.
The NT$150 billion increase in the special budget is to be paid for by increasing national debt by NT$100 billion in the current fiscal year and NT$50 billion in the next, Chu said.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
The NT$700 billion in loans, double what was originally planned, is to be provided by the central bank and state-owned banks, as well as Chunghwa Post Co (中華郵政), he said.
Overall, the package is to make up about 5.4 percent of this year’s nominal GDP, he said.
As a proactive measure to prevent the unemployment rate from soaring, the government is to inject NT$81.6 billion to help about 1.92 million people, or 16.6 percent of the nation’s working population, keep their jobs, Minister Without Portfolio Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) said.
That includes NT$39.6 billion in wage subsidies that the Ministry of Economic Affairs would give to about 660,000 people in the manufacturing and service industries, as well as NT$8.4 billion that the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) is to give to about 140,000 people in the tourism and transportation industries, Kung said.
The transportation ministry plans to give the nation’s approximately 92,000 taxi and 16,000 tour bus drivers NT$10,000 per month for three months, while the economic ministry would issue a monthly subsidy of NT$10,000 to about 1 million self-employed people for three months, he said.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare is to spend an additional NT$12.7 billion to compensate people placed under quarantine, as well as to procure medical supplies and bail out medical facilities, he said.
The health ministry would be given NT$8.7 billion to cover a three-month NT$1,500 increase in the monthly subsidy to elderly people and children with disabilities, he said.
The MOTC would provide NT$50 billion in loans to six airlines, which have borne the brunt of the pandemic’s effects, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said.
The ministry would reach out to the six airlines to simplify the procedure for them to secure loans, Lin said, adding that the process is expected to be completed by the end of next week.
Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said that the budget for planned coupons to stimulate consumption when the pandemic situation improves has been increased to cover a 25 percent discount when people use mobile payments and discounts for elderly people who pay with smartcards.
The Ministry of Culture is to receive an additional NT$4.5 billion to help movie theaters and performance groups cover their overhead and payrolls.
Despite being allowed to maintain normal operations, as long as audiences do not exceed 100 people, many of them have reported situations “equivalent to shutting down,” Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) said.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) approved a draft amendment to the Special Act on COVID-19 Prevention, Relief and Recovery (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例) to accommodate the increase in the special budget.
Su asked agencies to vigorously communicate with the four legislative caucuses to facilitate the swift passage of the amendment.
The government’s overarching goal is to keep “businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing,” he said.
‘GOOD SIGN’: Thanks to public efforts, the number of COVID-19 cases is on a downward trend, the minister of health said, but told people not to let their guard down The COVID-19 situation appears to be relatively stable and on a downward trend, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, as he reported 185 domestic COVID-19 cases and 15 deaths. “This seems to be a relatively good sign,” Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), told a daily news briefing. In Taipei and New Taipei City, the overall situation seems to be heading in a good direction, he added. He attributed it to public efforts to control the spread of the virus, but warned people against letting their guard down. Of the new local cases, 83 are males and
PHASE 2: The firm’s CEO said that the results were good and the experimental vaccine safe, but added that hoped-for phase 3 trials would be expensive Medigen Vaccine Biologics Corp (高端疫苗) yesterday reported positive results from an interim analysis of phase 2 trials for its COVID-19 vaccine, saying that the vaccine demonstrated high seroconversion rates and geometric mean titer (GMT) figures. A seroconversion rate is the percentage of participants in a trial displaying virus-specific immune memory after being given a vaccine, while the GMT measures the level of neutralizing antibody response, Medigen said. The experimental vaccine has a seroconversion rate of 99.8 percent and its GMT was 662 among the participants aged 20 to 89, while the gauges rose to 99.9 percent and 733 respectively in participants aged
ROLLING OUT DOSES: The expansion aims to speed up Taiwan’s vaccination drive by making more Moderna jabs available to workers at hospitals, the CECC said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday expanded the eligibility for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to all healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers in the highest vaccine priority group. The center said that 75,000 doses of the vaccine — half of the first batch Taiwan has received — were on Wednesday distributed to hospitals across the nation with specialized COVID-19 rooms, negative pressure wards and testing services. Thus far, they had only been offered to frontline healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers at the designated hospitals, it said. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the eligibility was
The EU is set to lift travel restrictions for US and Taiwanese residents as soon as this week, in the latest step toward a return to normal, despite concerns over the spread of potentially dangerous COVID-19 variants. Portugal, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, proposed adding Taiwan, the US, Albania, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Macau, the Republic of Northern Macedonia, Saudi Arabia and Serbia to a so-called “white list” of countries from which non-essential travel to the bloc is allowed, a diplomat familiar with the matter said. Assuming no objections, EU government envoys in Brussels would today approve the expanded