KMT to fast track social welfare legislation: caucus whip


TAIPEI–The Kuomintang (KMT) will expedite legislation of a government plan to increase eight categories of welfare benefits for disadvantaged people and raise pension for elderly farmers, the ruling party’s legislative caucus whip Lin Yi-shih said Friday.

Lin said the KMT will come up with the relevant amendments soon to allow the new program to be ready for second reading in the Legislative Yuan as quickly as possible.

The plan, proposed by President Ma Ying-jeou on Thursday, aims to raise welfare benefits by 16.67 percent to 33.27 percent in eight major categories and increase farmers’ pension from NT$6,000 (US$200) to NT$7,000 per month.

“I hope the new social welfare bill can be passed into law really soon so it can be implemented at the beginning of 2012,” Lin said.

The amendments will also seek to institutionalize the welfare program, in line with President Ma’s wishes, by stipulating adjustments of the payments every four years for inflation, he said.

This will prevent the program from being used for political expediency during election campaigns, he added.

On the farmers’ pension proposal, Lin said there will be a “wealthy” exclusion clause that will bar farmers with non-agricultural income of more than NT$500,000 per year or properties worth over NT$5 million from qualifying for the pension payment of NT$7,000 per month.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Chiang Yi-huah said more than 2.18 million people are expected to benefit from the new welfare program, which will cost NT$12.3 billion in the first year.

The stipend for children in low-to-middle-income families, which has not been adjusted for 18 years, is expected to be increased by about 31 percent, according to the Ministry of the Interior (MOI). The increase will put the monthly welfare payments at NT$1,900 to NT$2,300 per child, the MOI said. The monthly stipend for the elderly in that income bracket, which have remained the same for 16 years, is expected to be raised by 20 percent to NT$7,200 per person.