Despite the Legislative Yuan being in recess, ruling and opposition party caucuses yesterday agreed to hold an extraordinary session and invite Premier Su Teng-chang (蘇貞昌) to report on a new version of the Cabinet’s special budget for COVID-19 relief efforts.
During cross-party talks hosted by Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) earlier yesterday, lawmakers decided to hold an extraordinary session from yesterday through Friday next week to review the budget amid a surge in domestic COVID-19 cases.
The Cabinet on Thursday approved a fourth special budget of NT$260 billion (US$9.38 billion) to fund epidemic control measures and provide subsidies to individuals and industries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and disease control restrictions.
One of the planned subsidies that has drawn attention is a one-off payment of NT$10,000 per child to families with children younger than elementary-school age, as well as children with physical or mental disabilities up to high-school age or in the first three years of vocational school.
There is also a proposed one-time subsidy of NT$10,000 to NT$30,000 for farmers, fishers, tour guides, taxi drivers and self-employed people, among others.
As the Legislative Yuan entered its first recess of the year on Monday last week, and the second session would not begin until September, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus on Thursday proposed holding an extra session to review the budget, which has to be approved by the legislature.
The DPP hopes it will be endorsed before the end of the extraordinary session.
During yesterday’s negotiations, party caucuses also agreed to have Su and other government officials report on how the Cabinet has planned the funding and measures related to COVID-19 vaccine purchases and inoculation.
Two meetings have been planned for the session. The first started yesterday afternoon and runs through tomorrow, while the second is to be held from Wednesday to Friday next week.
Committee meetings would be held on Thursday and Friday, as well as Tuesday next week, according to the legislature.
In addition to the special relief budget bill, lawmakers would also review a proposed amendment to the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals (外國專業人才延攬及雇用法修正草案) as the government continues to adjust its policy to attract foreign talent to Taiwan.
Under the amendment, some foreign professionals would benefit from bigger tax breaks under certain conditions.
Those professionals and their dependents would also be able to enroll immediately in Taiwan’s National Health Insurance system, instead of having to wait six months to do so, as is the case for other foreign nationals.
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