Legislature passes bill to triple COVID-19 bailout funds

KMT lawmakers protest during the bill's passage.

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s Legislature on Tuesday gave the green light to an amendment bill to increase funding for response, relief and revitalization during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, from NT$60 billion (US$1.99 billion) to NT$210 billion.

The bill, put forth by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus, cleared the Legislature floor after three versions by other party caucuses were voted down.

It amended Article 11 of the Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens, which was presented by the Cabinet and was passed on Feb. 25 to establish a special budget of NT$60 billion for the coronavirus response and recovery.

In the amendment, the DPP legislative caucus cited the significant impact of the pandemic on various sectors of the country and proposed an increase of the special budget to NT$210 billion, with the option to double that amount if necessary.

It was one of four amendments presented by the various party caucuses and the only one that gained enough votes to clear the legislative floor.

In a version put forth by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) caucus, a cash stimulus was proposed for middle and low-income people, but it was voted down 59-38 by the 97 lawmakers who participated in the voting.

The 113-seat Legislature is dominated by the DPP, which holds 63 seats.