The Executive Yuan yesterday approved a draft bill to expand a COVID-19 stimulus package, increasing its spending limit from NT$420 billion to NT$630 billion (US$15 billion to US$22.5 billion) and extending it to June 30 next year.
The bill is pending legislative review, and if it is not passed before the end of this month, lawmakers would have to convene a special session to pass the stimulus expansion.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) approved the bill at a Cabinet meeting, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a news conference.
Photo: Wang Chun-chi, Taipei Times
Globally, 160 million people have been infected with COVID-19 and 330 million have died from the virus, with a fourth wave of infections spreading across the world, Lo cited Su as saying.
Taiwan has a developing situation, and there is a surge of cases in India, Japan and Malaysia, Lo said.
The program duration should be extended by 12 months and the spending limit be increased by NT$210 billion, Lo cited Su as saying.
Su told the meeting that Taiwan has spent less on stimulating the economy than Japan or the EU, and that its program has been efficient, Lo said.
The planned expansion would be the second increase to the government’s COVID-19 relief budget, Lo said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus convener Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said that DPP lawmakers aim to pass the expansion before the end of this month.
Lawmakers expect to receive the bill on Tuesday next week and seek to submit it for a third reading at the legislature before the end of the session, Lo Chih-cheng said.
The legislature might, if necessary, hold the reading in an extraordinary session, Lo Chih-cheng added.
It remains to be seen whether the COVID-19 situation permits the legislature to convene an extraordinary session, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislative caucus convener Alex Fai (費鴻泰) said.
Citing the Taipei City Government’s pandemic guidelines, Fai said that large indoor meetings of 100 people or more have been banned, a number that the session would exceed.
The KMT was willing to discuss the bill, but not before the Central Epidemic Command Center relaxes a level 2 pandemic warning, which the center might consider at a meeting on June 8, he said.
Taiwan People’s Party deputy caucus convener Ann Kao (高虹安) said that the Executive Yuan should report on effects of the program before proposing an increased budget.
“The people need to be convinced that stimulus money is spent only on things that are necessary,” she said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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