TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Taiwan’s Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) ordered cabinet to allocate NT$60 billion (US$1.9 billion) for businesses affected by the novel coronavirus epidemic.
Approximately one third of the emergency budget will go to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC, 交通部), under which the tourism bureau has been hit hard, Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka said on Thursday.
According to Taipei Hotel Association Director Wei Chien-hua (韋建華), hotels have reported up to 40 percent tour groups terminations, whereas those who host mainly backpackers are suffering a 60 percent cancelation rate.
Travel agencies who had to cancel tour groups due to travel restrictions will be compensated NT$80,000 (US$2,665) for every group with 20 or more people and NT$50,000 (US$1,665) for those with 20 or less, according to Chen Wen-ruey (陳文瑞), a MOTC official at Thursday’s press briefing.
More aid plans will be introduced once the budget is approved by the parliament.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA, 經濟部) will received the second largest portion of the emergency fund at around NT$16 billion (US$533 million), part of which will go to coupons to be used at restaurants, night markets and other commercial businesses.
Roughly NT$6 billion (US$19 million) for the Council of Agriculture (COA, 農委會), Kolas said.
Su has approved the appropriations for the aforementioned agencies, she said, but further discussions are required for details and how the remaining NT$18 billion (US$599 million) will be apportioned.
Should the final budget goes above NT$60 billion (US$1.9 billion), it is possible to draw from next year’s in advance, Kolas said.
The budget plan still requires parliament approval to be put in place.
As of press time, Taiwan has reported 18 Covid-19 cases, among which one has been discharged from the hospital after test results came back negative twice.
The virus has killed more than 1,300 people in the epicenter of China as its tally soared past 59,000 this morning. Globally, infections have been reported in more than 26 countries with the first death outside China in the Philippines.