CORONAVIRUS/Legislature passes new special budget for economic relief, stimulus

10/23/2020 05:49 PM
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Legislative Speaker Yu Shyi-kun (standing) announces the approval of the special budget. CNA photo Oct. 23, 2020
Legislative Speaker Yu Shyi-kun (standing) announces the approval of the special budget. CNA photo Oct. 23, 2020

Taipei, Oct. 23 (CNA) The Legislative Yuan has passed a special budget of NT$209.95 billion (US$7.33 billion) largely to continue economic relief measures that ease the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Taiwan's economy.

The budget approved by the Legislature on Friday, of which NT$172 billion will go to economic stimulus and support programs, will be financed through the issuance of debt, according to the Legislature.

A total of NT$137.54 billion of the new funding was allocated to the Ministry of Economic Affairs to ease its financial shortfall in subsidizing loans and providing assistance to pandemic-hit enterprises and cover gaps in funding for its consumer voucher program.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare will receive NT$37.36 billion for its social welfare programs, including disease prevention, while other ministries will get funding for their relief subsidy programs.

It is the second time since early this year when the coronavirus spread around the world that the government has expanded funding for affected businesses and industries and for epidemic control and prevention measures.

In February, the Cabinet introduced the Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens in efforts to cope with the impact of COVID-19 on people's health and economic activity in Taiwan.

That was backed by a NT$60 billion special budget for relief and stimulus measures after the Legislature passed the new act on Feb. 25.

As COVID-19 escalated around the world and dealt a severe blow to the global economy, the Legislature passed an amendment to the special act in April to allow the government to earmark a special budget of up to NT$210 billion for relief and stimulus funding, with the option to double that that if necessary.

As a result, the Cabinet presented a debt-financed NT$150 billion budget on April 23 to increase the special relief fund to NT$210 billion, based on the revised act. It was passed by the Legislature on May 8.

(By Fan Cheng-hsiang and Elizabeth Hsu)

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