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Legislature revokes farmer subsidy reconsideration

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The reconsideration case for an amendment to temporary provisions governing subsidies for elderly farmers was revoked at the Legislative Yuan yesterday.

The Executive Yuan passed the amendment to the temporary provisions governing subsidies for elderly farmers last November. Based on the amendment, the threshold is for those who are 65 years old and older have to hold farmers' health insurance for over 15 years instead of the current six months in order to apply for the NT$7,000 monthly subsidy.

Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) lashed out against the legislators last week over the delayed progress on the review of the amendment.

However, legislators fought back, saying that the COA should review the qualifications for those who hold farmers' health insurance before discussing the amendments.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators proposed the reconsideration case to the amendment this January, and the case was revoked yesterday after voting.

The DPP's Chen Ming-wen (陳明文) said that the reconsideration case was aimed at having the COA report on how to qualify a person as a farmer instead of damaging farmers' rights by raising the threshold for applying for the subsidy.

“The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) only targets farmers when they should review welfare issues for civil servants and the military,” said DPP lawmaker Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) “The COA should be able to qualify a person as a farmer by conducting inspections.”

Chen Ming-wen also said that the new threshold for the elderly farmers' subsidy should not double as the standard for the COA to qualify a person as a farmer.

However, KMT Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), who voted against the reconsideration case, said that based on the Control Yuan's statistics, there have been only 4,000 people registering as farmers for the first time in the past six years, but more than 30,000 people have begun to hold farmer's health insurance in the past three years.

According to statistics, Ting said, about 200 people between the age of 80 and 89 join the farmer's health insurance program annually. There are only 500,000 people registered as farmers in Taiwan, but there are 1.4 million people in the farmers' health insurance program.

“Many people are retired civil servants or teachers, and they purchase lands to build luxury houses, which makes them qualified 'farmers,'” said Ting. “The resources of the nation are all consumed by fake farmers instead of benefiting real farmers.”

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