New measures, gov’t agencies set for 2013

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — There will be a host of new administrative measures, including fines for motorists using mobile devices while driving, and partial restructuring of government offices taking effect from the start of 2013. Beginning from Jan. 1, the premium rate under the second-generation National Health Insurance (NHI) program will be lowered to 4.91 percent from 5.17 percent.

However, people who have extra income from additional sources will be required to pay a supplementary premium at a rate of 2 percent.

The additional incomes will include large bonuses, professional service fees, stock dividends, interest earnings, rentals, and income from part-time jobs. The supplementary premium will be levied when the income amounts exceed NT$5,000 per transaction. Officials at the Bureau of National Health Insurance (BNHI) under the Department of Health said yesterday that people who are not clear about the new measure may download apps from the bureau’s website with their smartphones for accurate calculation of the extra premiums they have to pay. For people without smartphones, the BNHI offers a toll-free phone service line at 0800-030-598 to provide details. The premium rate for the national annuity insurance will be raised to 7.5 percent from 7 percent beginning from January to increase the premium by a range of NT$26 to NT$52 per month while the government will also increase matching premiums ranging from NT$34 to NT$86 for each citizen. Owners of vehicles and motorcycles will no longer have to renew registrations for transport means for their own purposes as is currently required.

To promote public transport safety, motorists caught dialing, speaking or using mobile devices or data communication and transmission services with handheld gadgets or computers while driving will be fined NT$3,000.

Motorcyclists violating the rule will face a fine of NT$1,000. The punishable blood alcohol level of drivers and motorcyclists will be tightened to 0.15mg/L to combat drunk driving. The fee for applying for passports embedded with microchips will be reduced to NT$1,300 from NT$1,600, while the cost for passports issued to children under 14 and those valid for three to five years held by male adults still with conscript obligations will be cut to NT$900 from NT$1,200. The post office will accept applications for personal credit reports provided by the Joint Credit Information Center (JCIC) and the creditors’ lists from financial institutions. The military service period for able-bodied men will be slashed to just four months from 12 months as the government begins to switch from the conscript service to a new system of recruiting volunteers to serve in the armed forces. Among the partial reorganization of some government agencies, the independent Sports Commission under the Executive Yuan will be changed to the Sports Agency under the Ministry of Education.

The National Youth Commission will be transformed to the Youth Development Agency under the same ministry. The MOE will also consolidate its departments supervising elementary schools and middle schools into a single agency handling obligatory and preschool education.

The Ministry of National Defense will also consolidate its agencies and offices.