While the Ministry of Health and Welfare has done a good job of preventing the spread of COVID-19, the central government has not done as well at social welfare and virus relief for disadvantaged groups, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday.
Local governments were not given adequate funding to provide COVID-19 relief to disadvantaged groups, and had to make a request to receive more, KMT Culture and Communications Committee chairwoman Alicia Wang (王育敏) said.
Under the government’s virus relief program, social welfare groups can only obtain subsidies to help cover overtime pay for employees and operational costs such as utility bills, she added.
During the pandemic, social welfare groups have seen a decline in donations, while the number of people coming to them for help — including people who have lost their jobs or experienced a salary reduction — has risen, she said.
One borough warden told the KMT that some recycling workers are not getting the help they need, Wang said.
Although the Environmental Protection Administration has raised monthly subsidies for recycling workers to NT$5,000 from NT$3,500, many who are struggling are not eligible because they are not registered as recycling workers or do not meet the mid to low-income requirement, she said.
KMT deputy secretary-general Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) called the relief programs sponsored by various government ministries “chaotic” and “uneven.”
People with disabilities, who are offered an additional NT$1,500 per month, have received the lowest amount of financial relief, she said, adding that other groups, such as low-income workers, farmers and fishers, are eligible for bigger relief subsidies.
The ministry last month announced that it would give people with disabilities and others from disadvantaged groups an additional monthly subsidy of NT$1,500 from last month to next month, with about 870,000 people expected to benefit.
However, Lee said that under the program, only people with disabilities who have qualified for and are receiving a cost of living subsidy from the government are eligible for the virus relief payment, despite others needing financial relief as livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic.
At the Central Epidemic Command Center’s briefing in Taipei yesterday, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that his ministry and the Ministry of Labor have made multiple relief programs for disadvantaged groups.
It might seem that no single program offers a large subsidy, but the different relief programs were established to address specific situations, Chen added.
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