Premier Su calls for ‘swift passage’ of Taiwan’s epidemic response bill

Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Legislative Speaker You Si-kun(游錫堃) pose for photos at the parliament on Feb. 18, 2020. (CNA)
Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and Legislative Speaker You Si-kun(游錫堃) pose for photos at the parliament on Feb. 18, 2020. (CNA)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — Three days before the parliament reconvenes, Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) asked Legislative Speaker You Si-kun(游錫堃) on Tuesday to “swiftly pass” a bill to aid the nation through a time of crisis.

Once passed, the cabinet will allocate NT$60 billion (US$1.9 billion) for businesses and residents affected by the novel coronavirus epidemic.

“The Cabinet will submit the bill to the parliament by Thursday,” Su said, requesting legislators to also approve it without haste.

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 last week.

More aid plans will be introduced once the budget is approved by the parliament.

Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka among other government officials attend a press briefing at the cabinet on Feb. 13, 2020. (CNA)
Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka among other government officials attend a press briefing at the cabinet on Feb. 13, 2020. (CNA)

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.

As of press time, Taiwan has reported 22 cases of the COVID-19, among which two have been discharged from the hospital. Globally, the virus has killed more than 1,800 people, infecting over 71,000 across 26 countries.