Tsai, Han offer competing childcare, child subsidy policies
Taipei, Nov. 25 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) who is seeking a second term and her main rival Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) both recently outlined their childcare and birth subsidy policies, with a focus on boosting the nation's dwindling birthrate.
Han's running-mate, former Premier Chang San-cheng (張善政), announced at a Monday press event that the Han-Chang ticket will offer a one-time payment of NT$30,000 (US$974.9) for a first child, and NT$60,000 for a second child, starting next year, should they win the 2020 presidential race.
In addition, families will also qualify for an annual allowance of NT$60,000 for each child until the age of 6.
Currently the one-time childbirth payment ranges from NT$10,000 to NT$20,000 for a first child in cities and counties across the country.
In terms of childcare, Han's team also will provide parents with subsidies so they have flexibility to choose among different alternatives; such as taking care of children and infants at home or sending them to childcare centers; instead of directly offering government grants to daycare centers as is the case with the Tsai administration, according to Chang.
The budget for these subsidies will cost an extra NT$57 billion annually, Chang said, adding that the money will be appropriated from the government budget originally allocated for forward-looking infrastructure development plans, he added.
The Han camp's proposals were made after President Tsai of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) announced on Saturday that her administration has plans to double the child subsidy from NT$2,500 to NT$5,000 per month.
The subsidies will also be extended from birth to 6 years old, instead of 4 years old, Tsai said in a Facebook post.
The new policy is intended to reduce the financial burden on young couples and encourage people to have children, she said.
Providing more details about Tsai's proposal, Minister Without Portfolio Lin Wan-i (林萬億) said Monday that the expanded subsidy scheme will mean the government has to increase the budget for the program from NT$60 billion to NT$100 billion.
The money will be allocated from the existing budget and not cause additional financial burden to the government, he stressed. The new subsidies are expected to be introduced in 2021 at the earliest, he added.
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