The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed a special budget of NT$209.95 billion (US$7.26 billion) largely to continue economic relief measures to ease the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy.
Of the approved budget, which is to be financed through the issuance of debt, NT$172 billion would go to economic stimulus and support programs.
A total of NT$137.54 billion of the new funding would be allocated to the Ministry of Economic Affairs to ease a shortfall in providing loan subsidies and assistance to enterprises hit hard by the pandemic and cover gaps in funding for a consumer voucher program.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare is to receive NT$37.36 billion for its social welfare programs, including disease prevention, while other ministries are to get funding for their relief subsidy programs.
It is the second time this year since the outbreak of COVID-19 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 on COVID-19 Prevention, Relief and Recovery (嚴重特殊傳染性肺炎防治及紓困振興特別條例) to cope with the impact of the outbreak on people’s health and economic activity.
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 the pandemic spread and dealt a severe blow to the global economy, the legislature in April passed an amendment to the special act 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 if necessary.
On April 23, the Cabinet presented a debt-financed NT$150 billion budget to increase the special relief fund to NT$210 billion, based on the revised act.
It was passed by the legislature on May 8.
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