Par­ties call for looser post-typhoon re­lief rules

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY STEPHANIE CHAO

Cau­cus par­ties urged the Coun­cil of Agri­cul­ture (COA, ) to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to sim­plify agri­cul­tural re­lief ap­pli­ca­tions and re­lax ap­pli­ca­tion thresh­olds yesterday, in the wake of Typhoon Soude­lor.

Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics com­piled by the COA, agri­cul­tural losses are es­ti­mated to be ap­prox­i­mately NT$603.3 mil­lion as of press time, with Hualien, Tainan and Kaoh­si­ung be­ing the most bat­tered ar­eas.

It is be­lieved that costs will con­tinue to mount in the fol­low­ing days. The agri­cul­tural coun­cil has pledged to fol­low the sug­ges­tions made by Kuom­intang (KMT) and Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party (DPP) cau­cus mem­bers in re­sponse to the sit­u­a­tion.

COA Deputy Min­is­ter Chen Wente ( ), who at­tended the KMT cau­cus meet­ing, stated that the coun­cil is cur­rently re­search­ing ways to in­te­grate cash aid, re­lief plans and low in­ter­est loans. Chen also called on lo­cal coun­ties and cities to as­sist in speed­ing up ap­pli­ca­tions. DPP law­maker Chen Ting-fei (

) stated that the coun­cil should quickly team up with lo­cal gov­ern­ments to clar­ify dis­as­ter losses in the next “three to five days” and in­tro­duce a “sim­pli­fied ver­sion” for nat­u­ral dis­as­ter re­lief ap­pli­ca­tions and hand­ing out re­lief money.

“The coun­cil can re­fer to past meth­ods should the cur­rent bud­get fail to han­dle ex­penses, such as giv­ing pref­er­ence to help farm­ers and fish­er­men. These ex­penses will be cal­cu­lated in the an­nual fi­nan­cial state­ments,” Chen sug­gested.

KMT in the Same Boat

KMT cau­cus whip Lai Shyh-bao ( ) sim­i­larly an­nounced the KMT cau­cus’ de­mands to ad­dress post-typhoon dam­ages that not only re­flect the DPP’s state­ment but also “grant its high­est ap­proval” to­wards all of the gov­ern­ment sec­tor’s re­lief ef­forts.

Among the KMT cau­cus’ de­mands, Lai also sug­gested a tax de­duc­tion for fam­i­lies af­fected by the nat­u­ral dis­as­ter, ad­vo­cat­ing a “re­laxed, faster and sim­pler” ver­sion of agri­cul­tural costs in re­lief ap­pli­ca­tions, and ex­pects the Min­istry of Fi­nance to fol­low the sug­ges­tions as well.

In re­sponse to the sug­ges­tions, Deputy Min­is­ter Chen stated that “faster” mea­sures in­clude us­ing backup files of satel­lite im­ages for farm­ers to ap­ply for re­plough­ing. Chen also called for county and city gov­ern­ments to es­tab­lish a re­lief re­sponse group in or­der to help the COA quickly an­nounce fu­ture re­lief plans for the typhoon-stricken.

On the is­sue of tax re­duc­tions for the next year, fam­i­lies caught in the typhoon dis­as­ter could be el­i­gi­ble if they meet cer­tain re­quire­ments.

For in­come tax de­duc­tions, Tax­a­tion Agency ( ) Di­rec­tor Wu Tzu-hsin ( ) stated that an in- di­vid­u­als’ fam­ily can get re­duc­tions should they re­port back losses that amount to less than NT$150,000 with ap­proval from the neigh­bor­hood mag­is­trate.

Busi­ness’ ap­pli­ca­tion for tax re­duc­tions will need to go through writ­ten re­views by the Na­tional Tax­a­tion Bureau, as long as they meet the re­quire­ments of re­ported losses lower than NT$5 mil­lion.

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