Lawmakers and taxi unions yesterday called on the government to include the food service, hospitality, transportation and entertainment industries in a “Stimulus 4.0” relief package, saying that “lacking money is even scarier than the virus.”
Taxi drivers, restaurants, hotels and especially those without labor insurance, such as magnolia sellers and human billboard advertisers, have been the first to bear the brunt of level 3 COVID-19 restrictions, Taiwan People’s Party caucus convener Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠) told a virtual news conference.
Most of these people cannot work amid level 3 restrictions, yet the only round of emergency relief grants available to them ended last year, he said.
Chiu urged the Executive Yuan to consider all affected businesses, including the hospitality industry, when formulating its next stimulus package.
The relief package should include salary, utility and tax subsidies, as well as loan extensions and other measures, he added.
The pandemic is making life even harder for underprivileged workers, Taipei City Councilor Chen Chien-ming (陳建銘) said.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) at this time last year was repeatedly advocating for the protection of uninsured workers, but the government has yet to take any action, he said.
Although the Taipei Department of Social Welfare is accepting applications for emergency relief, it has not yet created any programs or allocated funds for pandemic aid, leaving the city’s underprivileged residents “high and dry,” he added.
Meanwhile, taxi union members said that the situation for cabbies is no better.
The streets have all but emptied of customers since the outbreak started, a taxi driver surnamed Huang (黃) said, adding that he only had two customers in a more than four-hour shift.
Many others ask to be taken to hospital, he added.
Drivers who expose themselves to such a risk usually do so out of economic necessity, but earn only a modest income, he said.
The government last year issued allowances of NT$30,000, but there are no such subsidies now, making life extremely difficult, Huang added.
The extension of level 3 measures until June 14 would deal an even greater blow to taxi drivers’ livelihoods, Federation of Taxi Driver Unions convener Liang Ping-liang (梁平良) said.
The government should consider providing salary and fuel subsidies, and deferring interest on financed vehicles, as well as adding taxi drivers to the priority list for vaccines, Liang said.
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