Taiwanese Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang ordered cabinet to allocate NT$60 billion (US$2 billion) for businesses affected by the novel coronavirus epidemic.
Approximately one third of the emergency budget will go to the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), under which the tourism bureau has been hit hard, Cabinet spokesperson Kolas Yotaka told a press briefing on Thursday.
Travel agencies who had to cancel tour groups due to travel restrictions will be compensated NT$80,000 for every group with 20 or more people and NT$50,000 for those with 20 or less, ministry official Chen Wen-ruey said at the briefing.
More plans to come
More aid plans will be introduced once the budget is approved by the parliament.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs will receive the second largest portion of the emergency fund at around NT$16 billion, part of which will go to coupons to be used at restaurants, night markets and other commercial businesses.
Roughly NT$6 billion for the Council of Agriculture, Kolas said.
Su has approved the appropriations for the aforementioned agencies, she said, but further discussions are required for details and how the remaining NT$18 billion will be apportioned.
Should the final budget go above NT$60 billion, it is possible to draw from next year’s in advance, Kolas said.
The budget plan still requires parliament approval to be put in place.
As of press time, Taiwan has reported 18 cases of coronavirus disease, among which one has been discharged from the hospital after test results came back negative twice.
The virus has killed at least 1,369 people in China as its tally soared past 59,804.
Globally, infections have been reported in more than 26 countries with the first death outside of China in the Philippines.
THE CHINA POST (TAIWAN)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK