Premier Su Tseng-chang on Thursday called together ministry and agency heads to an ad-hoc meeting of the Cabinet, where he announced that the Executive Yuan has approved a second-phase COVID-19 relief plan that will increase total funding for Taiwan's relief and stimulus measures to NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.6 billion), of which NT$210 billion (US$6.9 billion) will be funded with a special budget. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic now spreading globally, the premier expressed hope that ruling and opposition lawmakers in the Legislature will unite in supporting the special budget to help the people and businesses of Taiwan meet the coming challenge.
The first phase of the government's COVID-19 response plan was focused on the earliest outbreak of the coronavirus in China, explained Premier Su. Now that COVID-19 has become a global pandemic, funding must be increased to overcome the growing exigencies threatening the public and industry in Taiwan.
In order to legally raise the relief plan's special budget to NT$210 billion—an increase of NT$150 billion (US$4.9 billion) from the first phase—the Cabinet today proposed amendments to Article 9-1 and Article 11 of the special act on COVID-19 prevention, relief and restoration. Once the Legislature passes these amendments, the Executive Yuan will move quickly to submit detailed budget plans for legislative approval.
Since the coronavirus first emerged in Taiwan, the entire nation has come together with the single purpose of blocking the spread of the disease, Premier Su continued. The outbreak has now been brought under control, and Taiwan is drawing widespread applause from people at home and abroad for its excellent response campaign.
Taiwan was the first country in the world to conduct onboard quarantine inspections of all flights from Wuhan, and the first to coordinate and prepare medical supplies in advance. It banned the export of face masks early on and has worked tirelessly to increase the national production capacity of masks. After introducing and refining a mask rationing system for the general public, Taiwan is now even permitting people to send masks to family members abroad.
Moreover, the government took decisive action during the initial wave of coronavirus cases to postpone school openings, which helped prevent large cluster infections among children and kept campuses and communities safe. According to reports, over 160 nations have now shuttered schools, leaving 90 percent of children worldwide unable to attend classes in person. Taiwan is one of very few countries in the world where children are still able to attend school normally.
No one knows when the pandemic will end, the premier reiterated. All government agencies should therefore redouble their efforts, devote full resources into industrial relief and economic stimulus, and work together as a team to protect Taiwan.