NT$60 billion budget to cope with coronavirus clears Legislature

CNA
CNA

TAIPEI (CNA) — A special budget plan worth NT$60 billion (US$1.99 billion) to support efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 and cope with its impact on the local economy was approved by the Legislative Yuan Friday.

The bill, which enjoyed widespread support among lawmakers, was passed without any cuts in just 16 days after it was submitted to the Legislature by the Cabinet.

The government will raise NT$30 billion in bond sales and assign a fiscal surplus worth NT$30 billion for the special budget.

According to the approved bill, the special budget will be dated back to Jan. 15, 2020, and will run through June 30, 2021.

Under the approved special budget, the government will spend NT$19.6 billion in transforming hospitals into isolation venues, establishing quarantine and testing venues for the virus, requisitioning medical materials and allocating funds as subsidies for schools and the transportation industry to battle the virus contagion.

The government will also assign NT$40.4 billion to subsidize a wide range of industrial sectors that have been hit by the COVID-19 spread, such as the service industry, the manufacturing industry, the tourism industry, the transportation industry, the agriculture/fishing industry, and the arts/cultural industry.

Out of the NT$40.4 billion, about NT$1.82 billion will be used as compensation for people who are in mandatory quarantine and home isolation or who have to take unpaid family care leave to take care of family members who are in quarantine or home isolation without self-care ability, such as children under the age of 12.

In addition, the government will allocate NT$2 billion to issue vouchers for local consumers to spend in restaurants, retail shops, night markets and traditional markets, while NT$300 million will be earmarked for vouchers for art and cultural events.

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) previously told lawmakers that the budget is aimed at creating quick effects, spread benefits to as many industries as possible, push for infrastructure and eventually strengthen the economy.

In February, the DGBAS cut its forecast for Taiwan’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth for 2020 to 2.37 percent from an earlier estimate of 2.72 percent made in November.

On Feb. 25, the Legislative Yuan passed an act to authorize the government to write a maximum NT$60 billion special budget to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.