Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday approved a proposed increase of NT$150 billion (US$4.99 billion) in a special budget to bail out industries and individuals whose livelihoods have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At a weekly Cabinet meeting, he thanked lawmakers across party lines for raising the budget ceiling on Tuesday, which provided a legal basis for the proposed budget increase.
He instructed relevant agencies to communicate extensively with the four legislative caucuses, so that the planned budget increase could soon be passed.
According to the budget proposal, the Ministry of Economic Affairs would receive the largest cut, NT$77.44 billion, which would be used to cover overhead expenses and salaries in the manufacturing, service and exhibition industries; offer guarantees and loan subsidies to firms; spur consumption; and subsidize utility bills of businesses severely affected by the pandemic, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics said.
The Ministry of Labor would receive the second-largest share, NT$31.2 billion, which would be used to offer subsidized loans to workers and subsidies to self-employed workers or freelancers, it said.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare would receive NT$19.83 billion as bonuses to medical personnel, compensation for people who have been ordered to isolate and subsidies to medical facilities that have been receiving and isolating inpatients displaying pneumonia-like symptoms, as well as procuring equipment necessary for disease prevention, it said.
The budget earmarked would also be used to cover a one-time NT$4,500 subsidy to families with elderly and disabled members, it said.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which has already been allocated NT$20 billion from the NT$60 billion budget passed by the legislature last month, would be granted an additional NT$13.13 billion to cover loans, as well as wage and overhead subsidies to hotels, travel agencies and recreational facilities, it said.
The budget increase would also subsidize drivers in the transportation industry, shortfalls in landing and royalty fees collected by airports, as well as loans to local airlines, it added.
The Ministry of Culture asked for NT$3.22 billion to subsidize salary and overhead expenses of businesses, as well as the expenses of individuals in the art and cultural sector, it said.
The Ministry of Education requested NT$2.35 billion to subsidize the operating costs of entities in the sports industry, as well as any increase in the bandwidth and upgrades in Internet infrastructure of local education networks to prepare for a potential shift to remote learning amid the pandemic, it said.
The Ministry of Finance requested NT$500 million to provide subsidies to businesses that are qualified to sell Taiwan Lottery tickets and whose income has been affected by the pandemic.
As the nation continues its fight against the pandemic, the Executive Yuan would prioritize agencies that urgently need funds to bail out sectors and workers by redistributing funds from existing budgets under the amended Article 11 of the Special Act on the Prevention, Relief and Recovery of COVID-19 (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例), Su said.
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