Legislation comprising NT$40 billion (US$1.31 billion) in business and personal relief measures aimed at dampening the economic impact in Taiwan of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was approved March 24 by Premier Su Tseng-chang.
Drafted by the Ministries of Economic Affairs, Finance, Health and Welfare, Transportation and Communications, and Financial Supervisory Commission, the bill is the second of its kind for the country since the virus was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan last year. It represents the commitment of the government to maintaining economic and social stability in the face of the World Health Organization-designated pandemic.
One of the legislation’s central planks addresses the needs of small and medium enterprises in hard-hit sectors like aviation and tourism. These firms are eligible for discounted utilities, preferential and special loans, subsidies and tax reductions.
The bill also takes into account difficulties encountered by the public. Remedies include deferred taxation and telephone charges, as well as reduced interest rates for home loans. Underprivileged groups, including children, the mentally and physically challenged, and seniors, can also apply for a monthly supplement of NT$1,500 for a maximum of three consecutive months.
Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka said the legislation is expected to benefit up to a million citizens. In addition, the budget can be reviewed and revised upward in response to changing conditions, she added.
The first relief act—capped at NT$60 billion—was signed into law Feb. 25 by President Tsai Ing-wen. It contains 18 articles and runs until June 30.
Statistics from the Central Epidemic Command Center under the MOHW’s Centers for Disease Control reveal 235 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Taiwan as of March 25, with two deaths. A total of 408,592 cases have been identified in 172 other countries and territories. (TYT-E)
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