The Legislative Yuan passed the review on amendments of Provisional Regulations on Welfare Allowance for Elderly Farmers on Jun. 27. The COA extended its particular gratitude to legislators, general public, farmers, and farming associations for their recognition and full support.
The COA stated that the amendment makes it possible to implement laws that will take care of long-term agricultural laborers. Although there are some changes on the eligibility of joining famers’ health insurance, which extended from the current 6 months to 15 years of participation in the program; however, 670,000 farmers eligible to claim the allowance would not be affected. As for those who joined the insurance program before the said amendment and have been in the program for more than 6 months but less than 15 years by the age of 65, are able to receive half amount of the total allowance first, which is NT$3,500. After reaching the 15-year threshold, they will be able to claim the total amount of NT$7,000 monthly. Moreover, the amendment makes it clear that the insurance applicants must have a registered address in Taiwan, and must have resided in Taiwan for more than 183 days annually within last 3 consecutive years to be eligible.
Regarding the question about the effectiveness of inspection on eligibility of the policyholder, the COA specifically explained that during the past few months, it had taken all possible efforts in preventing people who are not working in the agricultural industry from taking advantages of the insurance program. As a result, there have been 60,000 people ousted already since August, 2009. In addition, the 6-months-to-15-years policy extension is similar to that of the Labor Insurance Allowance program, which will in the future be compatible with other social welfare plans.
There are also some doubts about the farmers’ benefits being affected. The COA firmly responded that the Welfare Allowance for Elderly Farmers reform is based on social justice and sustainable development which would never interfere with the benefits of the long-term farmers. Moreover, the government will be able to cut unnecessary spending through the reform of the program, and therefore utilize its financial resources more effectively. Eventually it would bring positive results as more young talents are attracted to work in the agricultural industry.