Premier Su apologizes for chaotic relief program rollout

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) bows to express his apology.

TAIPEI (CNA) — Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Thursday apologized for the chaotic rollout of the government’s COVID-19 relief grant program, which many criticized as being too complicated and time consuming.

The relief program should have been better planned before its implementation, Su told a news conference.

“It is my fault for not making it [the relief fund] clearer,” he apologized.

His address came one day after Taiwan began rolling out a one-time grant of NT$10,000 (US$336) per household, aimed at providing financial relief to help uninsured workers counter the cost of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The program, announced by the government earlier in the week, provides money to workers not enrolled in social insurance plans, as well as farmers and fishermen who do not qualify for other forms of financial aid.

It was poorly prepared, and should have been carried out more like the nationwide e-mask system, to ensure the public was properly informed beforehand, the premier said, noting that the government will learn from its mistakes.

On the first day of the program’s launch, long lines were seen outside local government district and township offices across the country, with members of the public seeking to apply for the one-time grant.

However, chaos and heated arguments erupted at some receiving stations as people complained of the complicated application process and time-consuming paperwork.

According to Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Su Li-chiung (蘇麗瓊), a total of 10,313 people applied for the relief payment on Wednesday.

Based on application forms currently received, an initial review suggests the approval rate will be extremely low, she told lawmakers at a legislative committee hearing Thursday, noting that applications will take five days to evaluate.

Meanwhile, the premier assured the public that as long as applicants are eligible, and their paperwork is in order, the payment will be remitted to their bank accounts in three to five days.

However, it could also take up to two weeks if an applicant fails to provide adequate information, he said.

According to the premier, people still have enough time to prepare their paperwork, as the application period runs until June 30.