At Thursday's Cabinet meeting, Premier Chen Chien-jen received a briefing from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) on an initiative to promote use of public transport, and another plan to accelerate the return of foreign tourists to Taiwan. The premier was also briefed by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics on its proposed special budget to boost economic and social resilience and share the proceeds of growth in the post-pandemic era. Premier Chen thanked the legislative caucuses of all parties for passing the third and final reading of the special act which authorizes the allocation of a budget, and said the Cabinet had approved a budget proposal of NT$380 billion (US$12.5 billion) for review by the Legislature. The premier also instructed the MOTC to begin formulating a subsidy package and comprehensive marketing strategy to encourage travel by public transport and promote Taiwan as a tourist destination.
Premier Chen explained that NT$100 billion (US$3.3 billion) from the budget will be allocated to Labor Insurance and National Health Insurance funds, and to Taiwan Power Co. A further NT$141.7 billion (US$4.7 billion) will be used to share the proceeds of economic growth by providing every person with a one-off cash payment of NT$6,000 (US$197). An additional NT$137 billion (US$4.5 billion) will be spent on measures that strengthen the nation's economy and social resilience. Premier Chen said he hopes that the measures will undergird support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), stall-keepers, salaried workers, childrearing households and vulnerable groups severely impacted by the pandemic.
The Executive Yuan has previously publicized plans to assist SMEs to transition and upgrade their business models, provide student and housing loans subsidies, and revitalize the nation's arts and cultural industries. Regarding the plan to promote public transport, in addition to providing a range of discounted monthly commuter tickets for intra- and inter-district travel within the nation's largest cities, the government will also roll out localized incentive packages tailored to regional needs. The premier hopes this will lighten the burden of commuters and encourage growth in public transport.
The government is also proposing a plan to attract broader international tourism, aimed at independent travelers and tour groups from four main markets: Japan and South Korea; the 18 countries under Taiwan's New Southbound Policy; Hong Kong and Macau; and Europe and the Americas. The premier said the plan will offer an NT$5,000 (US$164) incentive to each of 500,000 foreign tourists to spend in Taiwan, as well as a subsidy of NT$10,000 to NT$20,000 (US$329 to US$658) to each of about 90,000 tour groups. To resolve the problem of worker shortages in the hotel industry, the government also plans to issue industry subsidies to increase hiring of service personnel. The premier anticipates that cooperation between the government and private sector will stabilize the hotel industry's capacity to receive and serve tourists, and catalyze a swifter recovery for the tourism industry.
The premier said other portions of the special budget will be allocated to the Council of Agriculture for strengthening agricultural and fishery industry infrastructure and to provide support for farmers and rural villages. The Ministry of Health and Welfare will also be granted funding to subsidize 50% of out-of-pocket insurance premiums for individuals insured under the National Pension Program and continue to raise living allowances for low income and lower-middle income households, as well as for vulnerable groups such as disabled people, elderly people, children and youths.
Premier Chen called on relevant ministries and agencies to actively communicate and elucidate the contents of the special budget to all legislative party caucuses, local governments and the broader public in order to facilitate the special budget's swift passing. This will enable the government during this key post-pandemic period to spur social and economic recovery, expand care for vulnerable groups and distribute the NT$6,000 payments to the public as soon as possible.