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September 24, 2017

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Wang supports COA amendment

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) yesterday declared his full support for the amendment to temporary provisions governing subsidies for elderly farmers that will raise the threshold of qualifications needed to receive the subsidy.

Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) recently lashed out against legislators 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.

Chen went to Wang yesterday to seek his support on this amendment in the upcoming interim session of the Legislative Yuan.

Wang said that as long as the COA can make its point clear about this amendment, he will not oppose this revision.

"Since this amendment will not be applied to those who already applied for the subsidy, those farmers who are approved to receive the monthly subsidy will not be affected even if this amendment is approved," said Wang.

"Some people who have money to spend on luxurious goods are qualified as farmers after they purchase lands or own farmhouses under the current regulations," said Wang. "So it is necessary to raise the threshold to limit the qualifications of those who apply for subsidies as farmers."

Wang said that the subsidies for elderly farmers will not be combined with other subsidies provided by the government.

When asked if the amendment to temporary provisions governing subsidies for elderly farmers will be listed for discussion in the upcoming interim session, Wang said that it will depend on negotiations between the ruling and opposition parties, so there is no confirmed answer for that question yet.

Chen Remains Positive

Chen said that KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) informed him that he will try to add the amendment into the discussion schedule for an appropriate time during the interim session.

According to the latest survey published by the National Development Council (NDC, 國發會), Chen said, 66.9 percent of people support the amendment to temporary provisions governing subsidies for elderly farmers, which is a 14.4 percent increase compared to the first survey on the same topic published by the COA.

However, the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) newly elected Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) already said that the interim session is expected to be intense, so Chen said that over 70 percent of supporters from both the ruling and opposition parties show their approval for this amendment.

"The DPP should not make a decision on this amendment based on political factors to prevent losing support from young farmers," said Chen.

The Executive Yuan passed the amendment to the temporary provisions governing subsidies for elderly farmers last November. Based on the amendment, the new threshold maintains that individuals must be 65 years old or older and have held farmers' health insurance for over 15 years, instead of the current six months, in order to apply for the NT$7,000 monthly subsidy.

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