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Legislators propose to distribute rice dumpling voucher to those in need

Kuomintung (KMT) legislators yesterday proposed the idea of distributing vouchers for rice dumplings for those who cannot afford rice dumplings for the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival.

KMT Legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福), Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆), Sun Ta -chien (孫大千), Luo Ming-cai (羅明才) and Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) yesterday said that the price for rice dumplings this year were sky-rocketing, which makes it difficult for many low-income families to purchase rice dumplings for the upcoming festival.

They asked Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) Minister Shih Su-mei (石素梅) if it possible to use part of the budget to distribute vouchers for those who cannot afford rice dumplings to receive the festival food.

According to Shih, the price hike for rice dumplings is due to the price increase of ingredients, including mushrooms, pork, peanuts and sticky rice.

“The Executive Yuan has been focusing on the supply of rice dumplings, and Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) also requested the Council of Agriculture to adjust the supply of agricultural produce as well as the variety of festival foods,” said Shih.

Lin said that the price increase for rice dumplings is about 15 to 20 percent, and the rice dumplings that are priced NT$1,500 at a five-star hotel were sold out, which represents that the disparity between rich and poor has become more serious.

Shih promised to accept this proposal and brought it back to the Executive Yuan for further discussion, and the Finance Committee approved the extemporaneous motion to request the DGBAS to transfer this proposal to the Executive Yuan.

According to Lu, there are about 860,000 people qualified as low-income families in Taiwan. If each of them receive a NT$100 voucher for rice dumplings, Lu said, it will only cost the government about NT$86 million.

“This small and inexpensive act will not only allow low-income families to have a better Dragon Boat Festival, but will also let people experience the benefits of a good policy,” said Lu.

Shih said that she personally agrees with the proposal that the legislators suggested, but it will require further research and discussion before this policy can be properly carried out.

Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) was recently misquoted as saying that those who cannot afford rice dumplings can choose to purchase eggplant instead to celebrate Dragon Boat Festival, which triggered massive disputes.

Based on the clip of the interpellation that was posted on the Legislative Yuan's official website, Chen did mention rice dumplings and eggplants as both being Dragon Boat Festival foods, but he did not tell people to buy eggplants instead of rice dumplings for Dragon Boat Festival.

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