Without slashing a dollar, legislators yesterday passed a NT$150 billion (US$5.02 billion) increase to the Special Budget for COVID-19 Prevention, Relief and Recovery.
Prior to passing the increase, lawmakers across party lines agreed — during a preliminary review held by six committees and subsequent cross-caucus talks — not to trim the budget, but to bail out industry sectors and individuals’ livelihoods beleaguered by the pandemic.
The budget increase — which builds on NT$60 billion in stimulus funding that was passed on Feb. 25 — is divided into two parts: NT$133.5 billion in relief funds and NT$16.5 billion for disease prevention.
Photo: Tu Chien-jung, Taipei Times
The increase is to cover subsidies for affected companies’ utilities, payroll and operating expenses; credit guarantees and interest subsidies; grants for lower-income households; and programs to spur consumer spending.
Minister of Finance Su Jain-rong (蘇建榮) said in the explanation for the increase that it would be entirely sourced from borrowing.
In addition to NT$210 billion allocated from special budgets, the government has reallocated NT$140 billion from the general budget and approved a NT$700 billion line of credit from government-owned financial institutions to support businesses affected by the pandemic.
The total NT$1.05 trillion relief package would be about 5.36 percent of Taiwan’s GDP for this year, which is forecast to be NT$19.58 trillion.
Several resolutions accompanying the budget increase were also passed.
One resolution said that the Financial Supervisory Commission would ban banks from approving subsidized loans to illegal factories established after May 19, 2016, in order to protect the environment.
New Power Party (NPP) Legislator Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華), who sponsored the resolution, said that it was drafted in accordance with an amendment passed last year to the Factory Management Act (工廠輔導管理法), which said that newly established illegal factories should be torn down.
A resolution sponsored by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus calling for cash handouts for low and middle-income households was struck down after being put to a vote.
NPP caucus whip Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) thanked the legislators for the nonpartisan support that the party’s other resolutions received, including one that prohibits the Ministry of Finance from penalizing banks that fall short of government targets for issuing subsidized loans.
KMT Legislator William Tseng (曾銘宗) said that several resolutions that he sponsored passed, including one requiring state-run banks to report to legislative committees any progress made in issuing subsidized loans.
The resolution would require the National Audit Office to review the amount of loans provided and report the results to the Legislative Yuan, and that the Executive Yuan report the progress and efficacy of the special budget within three months of the initial budget’s passage.
Democratic Progressive Party caucus secretary-general Chung Chia-pin (鍾佳濱) said that he hopes agencies would use the budget wisely so that taxpayers’ money can go to bailing out businesses.
Additional reporting by CNA
Two Japanese virtual YouTubers (VTubers) were suspended by their employers on Sunday after mentioning Taiwan and showing the national flag during a livestream, stoking controversy that was inflamed further when it was discovered that their management company issued distinct apologies in Japanese and Mandarin. While reading YouTube analytics over livestream on Thursday and Friday last week, Hololive VTubers Kiryu Coco and Akai Haato named Taiwan as contributing a high percentage of viewers. Users on the Chinese video streaming platform Bilibili were quick to criticize the two and report their accounts, prompting Hololive’s parent company, Cover Corp, to suspend the streamers for three
NO SIGN OF WAR: Only if Taiwanese showed determination to defend the nation would others be willing to help in the event of a Chinese attack, the premier said Should China launch a war against Taiwan, the military would fight to the last standing person, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said yesterday, adding that the nation has fully fleshed-out defense strategies. “Beijing has continued its acts of provocation against Taiwan, but there are currently no signs that it is ready to launch a full-scale war,” Yen said at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. Asked how long Taiwan could withstand an attack from China, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said: “Taiwan will not fall.” Any belligerent force that initiates acts of war would pay a heavy price, and so too would Beijing,
MISTAKE: The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is not a UN body, and the government is committed to protecting the nation’s name, Joseph Wu said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday condemned the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its Web site, and asked that it correct the error. The organization was inaugurated in Brussels in 2016 as a global coalition of mayors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Six Taiwanese cities at the time joined the coalition as cities in “Taiwan,” the ministry said. However, officials from the Kaohsiung City Government — one of the organization’s members — last week noticed that the city was now listed on the organization’s Web site as a
MOTHERLAND? Taiwanese who take part in China’s National Day celebrations could be fined NT$100,000 to NT$500,000 if found to have contravened Taiwanese laws The Ministry of Culture yesterday cautioned China-based Taiwanese artists against breaching Taiwanese law by taking part in China’s National Day celebrations. The ministry issued the statement following media reports that Ouyang Nana (歐陽娜娜) is to sing a popular Chinese patriotic song titled My Motherland (我的祖國), and Angela Chang (張韶涵) is to sing Protect (守護) with Chinese entertainers at an event to mark China’s National Day on Thursday. The Mainland Affairs Council is investigating whether such behavior contravenes regulations in the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例), the ministry said. If the behavior involves matters