Parties call for looser post-typhoon relief rules
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.