Social welfare organizations yesterday blasted the government for allocating NT$3.2 billion (US$105 million) toward next year’s celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of China (ROC), while the budget allocations for children women and the disabled have been cut drastically, by 20 percent to 60 percent.
The groups said the government had sacrificed the welfare of disadvantaged groups to be able to put on a lavish celebration by putting every ministry under pressure to cut their budgets.
Wang Jung-chang (王榮璋), convener of the Alliance for Fair Tax Reform (AFTR), said the budget allocation for social welfare expenditure for next year was NT$346.8 billion.
At first glance, the budget -appeared to have increased by NT$22.1 billion from this year’s budget. However, he added that 71.7 percent of this money has been allocated to pay for the increase in health insurance premiums and a great increase in the government’s subsidy burden.
According to Wang, 26.7 percent of the budget allocation goes to the national pension system, employment insurance, the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) employment fund and to assist cross-strait medical services such as the Kinmen Medical Building and the Hsinchu Biomedical Center.
“This means that 98.4 percent of the budget increase for social welfare expenditure is going to these plans, while overall social welfare expenditure remains unchanged, and several items experiencing sharp reductions,” he said.
Next year’s integrated budget for the Federation for the Welfare of the Elderly, Taiwan Women’s Link, Taiwan Alliance for the Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare, the Eden Social Welfare Foundation and the Alliance for the Disabled shows that the budget for home-based services and community services for the physically and mentally disabled has been cut by 60 percent.
The budgets for disaster relief and condolence expenses have also been cut by 45 percent, while the budgets for protection of young people and psychological counseling have been cut by one-third and the budgets for prevention and guidance for women and youth have been cut by one-fifth.
Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲), -secretary-general of the Alliance for the Disabled, said the government often talks about understanding the hardships of the common person, but when faced with the -increasing wealth gap, the rapid increase in low income households and the continuing high real unemployment rate, it chooses to cut expenditure for next year.
“This is not a government that understands the hardships of the common man,” she said.
On Wednesday, the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee passed a preliminary review of the Council for Cultural Affairs’ budget for the centennial celebrations — after the request was trimmed by 2 percent.
The committee approved the council’s request for NT$1.9 billion after cutting out NT$38 million and freezing another NT$100 million.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the scale of the cuts, accusing the council of failing to explain its budget request in detail.
DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲), whose proposal to first cut the budget by NT$1 billion and then freeze about half of the remaining money was rejected by the committee, told a press conference afterward that the government’s total budget request for the ROC’s centennial celebrations amounted to about NT$3 billion.
“Is this how the government is spending money?” Kuan asked.
She alleged that a big portion of the council’s request would go to subsidize performances by large troupes instead of being evenly distributed among troupes of varying sizes.
However, Council for Cultural Affairs Minister Emile Sheng (盛治仁) said the NT$1.9 billion will be spent on about 100 events.
“We will provide NT$150 million in subsidies for the New Year concert and NT$200 million for [next year’s] National Day evening rally,” Sheng said. “We have tried our best to be frugal.”
A domestically developed “suicide drone,” also known as a loitering munition, would be tested and evaluated in July, and could enter mass production next year, Taiwan’s weapons developer said on Wednesday. The yet-to-be-named drone was among nine drone models unveiled by the National Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) on Tuesday. The drone has been dubbed the “Taiwanese switchblade” by Chinese-language media, due to its similarity to the US-made AeroVironment Switchblade 300, which has been used by Ukraine in counterattacks during Russia’s invasion. It has a range of more than 10km, a flight time of more than 15 minutes, and an electro-optical
GOOD INFLUENCE: Kwan said his mother tutored him at home for a few years, saying that she had to protect his ‘creativity’ as his writing had suffered Director and coproducer of the Oscar-winning absurdist comedy-drama Everything Everywhere All at Once Daniel Kwan (關家永) on Sunday dedicated the movie to his Taiwanese mother, who he said supported his creativity growing up. “She is someone who sacrificed a lot for her kids,” Kwan, 35, said backstage at the Oscars. The movie, released early last year, received a commanding 11 nominations at the Academy Awards, and won seven, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, with whom he also directed the 2016 fantasy film Swiss Army
A bipartisan US congressional delegation arrived in Taiwan yesterday on a two-day visit that is to include meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and other senior government officials, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The delegation comprises Republican US representatives and Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Ken Calvert, Tom Cole, Dave Joyce and Mike Garcia, as well as Democratic US Representative Ed Case, the ministry said in a news release. Upon their arrival at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport), the five representatives were welcomed by North American Affairs Department Director-General Douglas Hsu (徐佑典), it said. During their visit, they are to meet
The Taipei City Government on Wednesday introduced of a series of tourism promotions, including free sightseeing bus tours and hotel discounts, in a bid to boost the number of international visitors. From now until June 30, 10,000 free Taipei Sightseeing Bus tickets are to be made available to travelers who stay in designated hotels for two nights, cruise passengers and European visitors transiting for more than 15 hours, the Taipei Department of Information and Tourism said. Eligible tourists can ask for the free four-hour unlimited ride bus tickets by presenting their passports at the hotels they stay in or from the