The Cabinet on Thursday approved a proposal to increase Taiwan's COVID-19 relief special budget for a third time. The proposal, drafted by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, will be sent to the Legislature for review. Premier Su Tseng-chang and heads of various ministries and agencies held a press conference following the Cabinet meeting to announce the details of this COVID relief package 4.0.
Applications and disbursements of relief funds will be divided into three stages. In the first stage, qualified individuals will begin receiving cash relief beginning Friday. In the second, individuals and businesses may apply for relief funds and loans beginning Monday. In the third stage, applications and disbursements for families with children seeking pandemic subsidies, as well as workers seeking relief loans, will begin June 15. These measures are expected to benefit 7.3 million people.
That the government currently has sufficient resources to now initiate relief measures must be credited to the success of last year's epidemic control efforts, emphasized the premier. While most of the world suffered economic decline, Taiwan bucked the trend and posted impressive growth. Thanks to the nation's ample preparation of necessary materials as many countries scrambled for disease prevention necessities, Taiwan today has the means to tackle the epidemic and advance with a new phase of relief.
This most recent outbreak came quickly, demanding immediate action and affecting many households and businesses, Premier Su said. Aside from following last year's standards for providing relief, the Executive Yuan has decided to add a NT$10,000 (US$361) pandemic subsidy for the families of every child at the elementary school level and below. Mentally and physically challenged students in junior high, high school, and the first three years of five-year junior colleges will be eligible for the subsidy, as well. To help as many people as possible under the resources available, relief eligibility for self-employed individuals has been expanded. Extending relief to these two groups will benefit 3 million more people than in the previous relief package.
In the face of current difficulties, only a dedicated focus on epidemic control at all levels will bring the situation back under control and move the economy forward. Additional vaccine supplies will arrive gradually in Taiwan, the premier said. Nevertheless, the experience of many nations has shown that even more important than vaccination is doing a thorough job of disease prevention to fight the virus. Such efforts are key to quickly returning life to normal and demonstrating to the world the integrity of Taiwan's people and the encompassing, resilient solidarity of our efforts.