Taiwan's progress stunted by Legislature: COA
By Joy Lee, The China Post
May 20, 2014, 12:06 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Minister of the Council of Agriculture (COA) Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) yesterday said that the development of Taiwan has been stalled by the Legislative Yuan, after learning that two major agricultural amendments will not be reviewed by the end of this session.
According to Chen, the bills include an amendment to the Food Administration Act that would forbid rice sellers from mixing rice as well as an amendment to the temporary provisions governing subsidies for elderly farmers that would allow people 65-years-old and older who have held farmer's health insurance for over 15 years to receive NT$7,000 monthly as a subsidy.
Chen said that those amendments were proposed in order to modify the unfairness of the current regulations, but the Legislative Yuan completely ignored them.
“The legislative and executive powers are the two wheels that keep Taiwan advancing,” said Chen. “However, now the nation is stuck because of the failure of one wheel.”
According to Chen, the amendment to the Food Administration Act was briefly reviewed by legislators for half a day, and a total of 22 versions of the amendment were scheduled to be reviewed article-by-article this Thursday.
As for the amendment to the temporary provisions governing subsidies for elderly farmers, Chen said, it has never been scheduled for discussion at this Legislative Yuan session.
“These amendments are intentionally blocked by some legislators due to the upcoming election, especially those legislators whose supporters are mainly farmers,” said Chen.
According to the current temporary provisions governing subsidies for elderly farmers, people 65 years of age and older who have been on the farmer's health insurance program for six months can receive a NT$7,000 monthly subsidy. The amendment will raise the threshold from six months to 15 years.
“The current regulations are wrong,” said Chen. “The amendment aims to exclude people who are not long-term farmers from receiving subsidies and use the extra money to help young farmers own lands and improve the farming environment.”
When talking about the amendment to the Food Administration Act, Chen said that after Chyuan Shun Food Enterprise Co. (泉順食品) was found to have mislabeled its popular rice product Sunsuivi (山水米), more consumers realized that the act, which has not been revised for 60 years, should be adjusted as soon as possible.
“However, the amendment-review process at the Legislative Yuan is behind schedule now, so rice sellers can still mix rice and falsely label rice products as long as they are not caught,” said Chen.
67% of Agricultural Budget Spent on Subsidies: COA
Chen said yesterday that 67 percent of Taiwan's agricultural budget is spent on subsidies, while 10 percent of the budget is used for the development of the industry.
According to Chen, the subsidies for elderly farmers cover about NT$49.4 billion, and the total budget for agricultural subsidies is about NT$82.2 billion.
Chen said that if the amendment pertaining to elderly farmers is passed, it will save the council about NT$45 billion in the 15 years to come.