The Cabinet yesterday approved a plan to disburse NT$380 billion (US$12.5 billion) in tax surplus to boost the economy, including a cash subsidy of NT$6,000 to Taiwanese and eligible foreign residents.
The proposal is to be sent to the legislature for approval.
The plan would allow the government to use last year’s tax surplus from 2023 to 2025 to provide economic incentives.
Photo: Tien Yu-hua, Taipei Times
This includes the allocation of NT$141.7 billion — more than one-third of the total — for disbursement to all Taiwanese and eligible foreign residents, who would each receive NT$6,000 in cash, the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said.
The proposal would also allocate NT$30 billion to the labor insurance fund, NT$20 billion to the National Health Insurance Administration and NT$50 billion to state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower), which have incurred operational losses, senior DGBAS official Hsu Yung-yi (許永議) told a news conference in Taipei.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs would receive NT$31.7 billion to help fund its subsidies to small and medium-sized enterprises, and the manufacturing sector, Hsu said.
The plan would allocate NT$10.3 billion to the Ministry of Health and Welfare to fund financial assistance programs for low-income and lower-middle-income households, people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups, Hsu said.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications would receive NT$27.4 billion to subsidize public transportation fares and to provide incentives for foreign tourists to visit Taiwan, he added.
Except for NT$1.3 billion that would be held in reserve, the remaining tax surplus revenues would go to the education, culture and interior ministries for subsidies and programs, Hsu said.
National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) said that pending legislative approval, the budget would provide timely resources amid “serious challenges” to Taiwan’s economy due to projected headwinds in the global economy.
In light of such factors, the government has lowered its GDP growth forecast for this year by 0.63 percentage points to 2.12 percent, Kung said, citing DGBAS figures released on Wednesday.
He said that the aim of the cash subsidies and other incentives is to boost domestic spending and contribute at least 0.45 percentage points to this year’s domestic economic growth.
Meanwhile, Vice Premier Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said he hopes that lawmakers across party lines would approve the plans without delay so that the funds could be disbursed soon.
Regarding the NT$6,000 cash subsidy, Cheng said the government would create several channels for Taiwanese, including diplomats posted overseas, foreign permanent residents and foreign residents with Taiwanese spouses to receive the payments.
The government is working on an online system that would allow direct transfers to people’s bank accounts, he said, adding that the system would be tested next month and then opened for applications.
Cheng said the NT$50 billion allocated to Taipower would help cover some of its losses, adding that the government’s budget for this year has also allocated NT$150 billion to cover losses at the utility.
As of the end of last year, Taipower’s accumulated losses were NT$267.5 billion, the company said, adding that it was due to rising international energy costs and the government’s reluctance to increase electricity prices.
Taipower has estimated that it would lose another NT$278.5 billion this year.
Cheng said that the government’s cap on electricity and fuel prices would remain part of its efforts to stabilize the cost of living in the country.
Similarly, the government is committed to allocating resources to the labor insurance fund to keep it “financially sustainable,” he said.
In addition to the proposed NT$30 billion in tax surplus funds, the labor insurance fund would also receive NT$45 billion from the government’s budget for this year, he said.
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