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.”
LIABILITIES MULLED: New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi said Taipei would find out if the firm was legally registered, the guide was licensed and the weather was assessed The assets of Tian Da Local Nature Co are to be frozen after at least four people died after falling into the Beishi River (北勢溪) on an outing the company had organized on Saturday, the Taipei City Government said yesterday. Six people — two adults and four children — were washed away by a flash flood on the river in New Taipei City’s Hubaotan (虎豹潭) area. They were participating in a Nature Joy Camp outdoor activity with a group of 16 adults and 15 children led by a guide surnamed Su (蘇). As of 4:30pm yesterday, four of the missing had been
Taiwanese worked more hours than people in all but three other countries in the world last year, Ministry of Labor data showed. Singapore placed first in average hours worked among the 40 economies surveyed, with an average of 2,288 hours per worker last year, the data showed. The city-state was followed by Colombia with 2,172 hours — based on 2019 data — and Mexico with 2,124 hours, it showed. Taiwan came in fourth, with 2,021 hours, it showed. South Korean workers clocked the third-most hours in Asia, with 1,908 hours, followed by Japan with 1,598 hours, it showed. However, compared with 2019, the survey found
The US 7th Fleet yesterday confirmed that a US Navy ship transited the Taiwan Strait on Thursday and Friday. “The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey [DDG 105] conducted a Taiwan Strait transit in cooperation with Royal Canadian Navy [RCN] Halifax-class frigate, HMCS Winnipeg, October 14-15, 2021,” the US 7th Fleet said in a statement. “Dewey’s and Winnipeg’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific. Cooperation like this represents the centerpiece of our approach to a secure and prosperous region,” it added. The transit marked the
‘COUNTERPRODUCTIVE’: The German, French and Singaporean missions said that Taiwan’s COVID-19 restrictions are hindering local projects and business operations Several foreign missions in Taiwan have urged the government to ease its strict COVID-19 border controls, which they say are hurting in-person exchanges and business operations. The missions made the appeal in response to media inquiries on how the border controls have affected their respective countries’ exchanges with Taiwan, amid growing concerns voiced privately by Taiwan-based foreign offices and businesses regarding the restrictions. Taiwan has maintained strict entry requirements since March last year, generally prohibiting most arrivals except for citizens and foreign residents, while it has required those who enter the country to undergo a stringent 14-day quarantine. Although the rules have been