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Taiwan balks at providing child subsidy to foreign resident families

MOE ambigous as to whether 2nd phase of child subsidy program on July 15 includes foreign residents

(Vecteezy image)

(Vecteezy image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Despite pledging to offer the same pandemic relief benefits to foreign residents as Taiwanese citizens, the Taiwan government is balking at providing child subsidies for foreign couples and remains ambiguous about the inclusion of foreigners in the second phase.

At a press conference on June 24, the Cabinet announced its "Stimulus 4.0" (紓困4.0) package to provide relief to residents who have been affected by the recent outbreak and Level 3 restrictions. It also said that 27,000 foreigners who have permanent residency status in Taiwan and have been affected by the economic slowdown brought on by the outbreak will be eligible for the same benefits as Taiwanese.

A National Development Council (NDC) representative who spoke to Taiwan News said that a number of government ministries were discussing ways to provide aid to foreign permanent residents who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. She stated that the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Labor (MOL) have included foreign permanent residents in their relief package plans.

The NDC representative said that under the MOE's "Epidemic Prevention Subsidy for Families with Children" (孩童家庭防疫補貼) relief plan, families, including foreign permanent residents, with children in pre-school or elementary school, or who are special education students in junior high or high school, would be eligible to receive a subsidy of NT$10,000 (US$356) per child. Babies born before the end of the Level 3 alert and children under the age of two would also be eligible.

A representative who answered the 1988 bailout hotline that day confirmed that foreign parents with permanent residency would be eligible for these benefits. However, foreign couples with Alien Permanent Resident Certificates (APRCs) have notified Taiwan News that they were told that foreign residents are not eligible for child subsidies.

When Taiwan News contacted the NDC representative about the matter, they said that there must have been a mistake and to "give the government time" to sort it out. Representatives at the 1988 hotline stated that foreign nationals are not currently eligible for the program.

Liberty Times in June cited Li Mei-hua (李美華), acting director of the Chiayi County County Education Department, as claiming that the central government will include parents with residents permits in the second phase of the program, which is set to launch on July 15 and planned to expire on Sept. 30. In this second phase, parents will be able to pick up the subsidies from the post office, as long as they provide the required documents.

Required documents listed include the child's National Health Insurance card, as well as ID card "or resident permit" (居留證), indicating that foreign residents could be somehow eligible. However, when Taiwan News contacted a MOE spokesperson and a customer service representative manning the program's 0809-098001 hotline, both said that there are currently not yet any announcements about the inclusion of foreign parents in the program.

Both advised waiting until July 15 to see if the MOE has any other announcements on the subject. The first phase of the program began disbursing subsidies on June 15 for 2.18 million children of Taiwanese parents.