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Taiwan Cabinet allocates billions in new funding for COVID-19 vaccines

ROC Central News Agency

06/03/2021 05:09 PM

Taipei, June 3 (CNA) The Cabinet said Thursday that it has allocated an additional NT$79.2 billion ($2.87 billion) for the procurement and development of COVID-19 vaccines, under a broader relief budget it has approved to fund Taiwan's efforts to contain a recent domestic outbreak of the disease.

The NT$79.2 billion will be allocated to the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), which will use it to purchase COVID-19 vaccines and medicine and to fund clinical trials of locally produced vaccine candidates and drugs, the Cabinet said.

The allocation is part of a NT$260 billion COVID-19 relief budget that was approved by the Cabinet on Thursday and will now be sent to the Legislature for review and passage.

The bulk of the relief funds will go to the MOHW, while the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) will receive the second-largest allocation of NT$58.4 billion, which will be used mainly to subsidize those businesses worst hit by the pandemic, the Cabinet said.

The Ministry of Labor (MOL), meanwhile, will receive an allocation of NT$44.9 billion to provide subsidies and loans to self-employed people, according to the Cabinet.

In addition, employees in industries heavily affected by Taiwan's COVID-19 restrictions will each receive a monthly subsidy of NT$20,000, the Cabinet added.

Other allocations in the Cabinet's COVID-19 relief package include NT$25 billion for a one-time subsidy of NT$10,000 per child to families with children up to elementary school level and teenage students with disabilities.

It is expected to cover an estimated 2.45 million children up to elementary school level and some 50,000 teenage students with disabilities.

A one-time subsidy of NT$10,000-NT$30,000 will also be paid to farmers, fishermen, tour guides, and taxi drivers, according to the Cabinet.

At a press briefing after the Cabinet approved the NT$260 billion COVID-19 relief package, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said Thursday that distribution of all the subsidies will begin June 4, except for the child subsidy, which will be rolled out June 15.

Legislators across party lines are scheduled to meet Friday to discuss when to hold an extraordinary legislative session to review the relief package, as the current session concluded on May 31, according to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus.

DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said the relief bill is expected to be passed in the Legislature no later than June 18.

On Monday, the Legislature passed a bill that raised the cap for the government's overall budget for COVID-19 relief in the long term, from NT$420 billion to NT$840 billion, after which the Cabinet was required to propose the detailed spending.

On Thursday, Taiwan reported 583 new domestic infections of COVID-19 and 17 deaths, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 9,974 and the fatalities to 166.

(By Lai Yu-chen, Chen Chun-hua and Joseph Yeh)

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