Taiwan unveils coronavirus response measures

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(CNA photo)

The government has been rolling out a slew of measures to counter the economic impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, including providing compensation, subsidies and tax breaks for businesses, individuals and organizations affected by the disease.

As part of the relief measures, government banks will cut interest rates on loans for self-use homes valued at NT$10 million or less by 0.5 percentage points for six months, Minister without Portfolio Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) said Tuesday.

Furthermore, individual income taxpayers will be allowed to apply to postpone their deadlines for income tax payments by up to one year or paying by installment for up to three years, according to Kung.

For small businesses that do not need to issue invoices but which are severely affected by COVID-19, the government will lower their corporate-tax rates to as low as zero, he added.

Meanwhile, if people have difficulty paying their telecommunication bills, they can apply to defer those payments for up to six months, during which cable and telecommunications companies will not cut off people's broadband or telephone services, Kung said.

The government will also provide a monthly living subsidy of NT$1,500 to elderly people, children and the disabled in socially disadvantaged families for three months, which is expected to benefit 1 million people, Kung went on.

Businesses that posted a 15 percent drop in monthly revenue from the same period of last year for two consecutive months will be eligible to a 5 percent discount off their water bills, with the monthly reduction capped at NT$5,000 each.

Meanwhile, business consumers of gas and electricity will be given discounts off their bills, with small and medium-sized business consumers eligible to discounts of 10 percent off their electricity bills, with the monthly reduction capped at NT$100,000 each, according to Kung.

In addition, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said Tuesday that the ministry is planning to issue NT$500 vouchers to people who have canceled their overseas travel plans to take domestic trips instead.

That plan will require about NT$1 billion, and the details of the plan are still being worked out, Lin noted.

He also said that the government will provide a monthly subsidy of NT$100,000 to nearly 4,000 travel agencies for up to three months and will give NT$200,000 to hotels and NT$50,000-NT$100,000 to bed and breakfast operators to help tide them over the COVID-19 crisis.

The government will also help airlines to obtain loans and subsidize their interest payments on such loans, Lin added.