The amendments proposed to the Disaster Prevention and Protection Act (災害防救法) cleared the Legislative Yuan yesterday, entitling victims of natural disasters to a variety of of financial support and exemptions. Also amended yesterday was an article of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法) for the advancement of Aboriginal rights.
In the wake of the magnitude 6.4 earthquake that shook Tainan on Feb. 6 and claimed 117 lives, the amendment bill was proposed and passed the third reading yesterday.
The amended law broadens terms to include damage caused by soil liquefaction, radiation and industrial pipelines.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
According to the amended act, policyholders of farmers’ health insurance, the national pension, labor insurance and employment insurance are to be entitled to government support for a certain period of time if affected by natural disasters
Any co-payments for medical treatment, meals at medical facilities and premiums paid by National Health Insurance policyholders are to be shouldered by the government as well, with the help of private donations.
Financial aid, consolation money or temporary job allowance payments received by disaster victims are to be exempt from taxation; the lands and the buildings within disaster-stricken areas, meeting certain conditions, would be given reductions on land value tax and house tax.
Financial institutions should also give people extensions for credit card and loan payments, and waive interest for a certain period of time, which would be subsidized by the government, according to the amended law.
The government is also required by the amended act to coordinate with financial institutions to provide low-interest loans to disaster victims for the reconstruction or repair of their damaged buildings; residential building owners whose properties have been damaged by a disaster could pay off their loans with the buildings and the land concerned, if the buildings are deemed by the government as no longer livable.
The amendments were made retroactive to Aug. 6 last year, to be applicable to those affected by Typhoon Soudelor and by the earthquake earlier this year.
A second amendment was passed in yesterday’s general assembly: Article 47 of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act has been amended to allow Aboriginal candidates to present their policies in election bulletins in their own languages using the Latin alphabet and pictographs.
The cap of 600 Chinese characters on policy content in election bulletins was scrapped and candidates can now present their policies either in the Latin alphabet, Chinese characters or pictographs in their bulletins.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Kolas Yotaka, the lawmaker who proposed the revision, said language is the soul of Aboriginal people.
“Allowing Aborigines to write and convey their policies to their constituencies in their own languages is an achievement in protecting their rights to politics and also demonstrates the nation’s respect for their cultures and languages,” she said.
DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the change would also be applicable to candidates with immigrant backgrounds in the future.
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