Lawmakers yesterday passed an amendment to the 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), raising the upper limit of a special budget to bail out industries and people whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic to NT$210 billion (US$7 billion).
The new limit represents a NT$150 billion increase to the budget’s ceiling, NT$60 billion, passed last month by the Legislative Yuan, and the amended act is to serve as the legal basis for a matching budget increase proposed this month by the Executive Yuan for its expanded economic stimulus package.
Depending on the development of the pandemic, a second special budget may be planned, but its amount must not exceed the current one, the amendment says.
The planning and spending of the accompanying special budget, for which the Executive Yuan is soon to submit a request, would not be bound by limitations in the Budget Act (預算法), it says, meaning that funds allocated to one agency can be redistributed to another.
Exceptions are special budgetary items that have been annulled by the legislature, it adds.
The budget is to be sourced from surplus revenue from previous fiscal years and borrowing, which is not subject to rules in the Public Debt Act (公共債務法) that limit the amount of capital the government can borrow for the special budget in a fiscal year to 15 percent of the proportion used, the amendment says.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Two proposals tendered by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus — to waive or reduce business tax for operators in sectors significantly affected by the pandemic and waive their import duties — were vetoed.
At the start of the legislative plenary session, KMT Legislator Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) criticized the Executive Yuan’s policy for bailing out self-employed workers and freelancers, saying that requirements such as having participated in the Labor Insurance Fund and having an insured monthly salary of less than NT$24,000 to be eligible for a NT$30,000 subsidy are too strict.
He also criticized the Cabinet’s reluctance to issue cash handouts to people subject to an income tax rate of up to 20 percent, saying that what Taiwanese need now is a timely subsidy to help them through the pandemic, citing countries such as the US, the UK and Malaysia, which are giving citizens cash handouts.
However, the KMT caucus did not tender the proposal mentioned by Chiang.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) said that the KMT proposal would have given even people earning an annual salary of NT$2.42 million a subsidy of NT$6,000.
Even lawmakers, whose annual salary is more than NT$2 million and who have no need for subsidies, would have received NT$6,000 under the KMT’s initial proposal, he said.
The KMT is trying to score political points with the proposal, but that would only encroach on the budget allocated for people who most need it; for example, taxi drivers, whose business has been seriously affected by the pandemic, he added.
‘NOT AN INCH’: The president said after incursions by Chinese warplanes that there should be very smooth collaboration between the executive and military branches President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that Taiwan would not budge “an inch” on issues of sovereign territory and would stalwartly defend its democratic freedoms. Tsai made the remarks during an inspection of surface-to-air missiles at an air force base in Hualien. She was accompanied by National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General Wellington Koo (顧立雄), Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發), Chief of the General Staff Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光) and Republic of China Air Force Commander Hsiung Hou-chi (熊厚基). After attending a briefing, Tsai was given a demonstration of procedures for a missile launch. Tsai granted the base a one-time subsidy to boost troop
RIVERSIDE CAMP: As rescuers continued their search for a missing man, Taipower said that the floodgates at a hydro plant on the Lishi Creek opened due to a malfunction Three people have been confirmed dead and one was missing after being swept away by a flash flood while camping in Nantou County’s Renai Township (仁愛), police said yesterday. Six people from two families were camping near Lishi Creek (栗栖溪) when the riverbanks were suddenly flooded just after 4am, carrying away four of the campers — including two children — who were asleep in their tents, police said. A man who was among those swept away was able to climb ashore and call for help, police said, adding that another man had gone missing in the turmoil at the campsite.
ON THEIR OWN: The KMT has decided not to participate as a party at this year’s forum, and if any members do go, they would not be representing the party, Alicia Wang said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it would not send a delegation “as a political party” to this year’s Straits Forum, after a Chinese TV program described the planned visit to the annual meeting as “suing for peace.” The 12th forum is scheduled to open in Xiamen, China, on Saturday. On Tuesday last week, the KMT announced that former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum, with KMT Secretary-General Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) as deputy head. However, on Thursday last week, China Central Television’s (CCTV) Yangshipin (央視頻) program, hosted by Li Hong (李紅), included a headline
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the