CNA photo on Feb. 1, 2023
Taipei, Feb. 1 (CNA) Newly sworn-in Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) made his first visit to the Legislature Wednesday to garner support for a government-backed bill on the allocation of a NT$380 billion (US$12.7 billion) tax surplus.
Chen, together with Vice Premier Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦), held separate talks with each of the legislature's four party caucuses on the Cabinet-backed bill, which is currently under legislative review alongside competing opposition proposals.
With the bill stuck in the "negotiation phase" due to a standoff between the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Kuomintang (KMT), the legislature's second-largest party, Chen sought talks in the hope opposition lawmakers would reconsider the government's plans.
Should no cross-party consensus be reached before the end of the one-month negotiation phase, the DPP's legislative majority is likely to approve the bill in a subsequent floor vote.
The government's plan would allocate NT$140 billion of last year's tax surplus to one-off cash payments of NT$6,000 to all citizens and three types of foreign nationals -- foreign nationals with permanent residency, resident spouses of Taiwanese nationals, and foreign diplomats.
An additional NT$200 billion would be spent on easing the financial burdens of the health and labor insurance systems, "subsidizing electricity prices," and boosting the country's economy, with the remaining NT$40 billion kept in reserve, according to the proposal.
Chen's failure to offer any new concessions to KMT lawmakers - who continue to demand an increase in the tax rebates from NT$6,000 to NT$10,000 - saw the new premier walk away from Wednesday's talks empty-handed.
KMT lawmaker Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) told Chen that, according to Ministry of Finance figures from mid-January, there was an additional NT$45 billion surplus on top of the ministry's original estimate - more than enough to give Taiwanese citizens and eligible foreigners a NT$10,000 rebate.
Chen rejected Lai's suggestion, arguing that using any additional surplus to increase the tax rebate would divert funds from other government plans, including helping those disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic such as low-income, middle-to-low income and rural households, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The Taiwan People's Party (TPP) and New Power Party (NPP) caucuses, on the other hand, did not give a definite answer as to whether they would support the government's proposal during their separate meetings with Chen.
TPP caucus whip Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠) said his party's lawmakers would carefully review the government-proposed bill to ensure that the tax surplus would effectively help the less advantaged and boost the economy.
Head of the NPP caucus Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智), meanwhile, cast doubt on the government's plans to issue cash payments, saying the new Cabinet should "invest more on the future generations" and avoid "pleasing people of the present."
more OCAC News, welcome to OCACNEWS.NET