New bill seeks to break domestic poverty cycle

The Cabinet passed a bill on Thursday to help children from low-income families save money for their education and future plans. The goal is to break the cycle of poverty.

Target participants of the program are all children born into low-income families after January 1, 2016. The policy will give NT$15,000 (US$475) a year to each participant starting in 2017 until the child is 18. The plan would also require each child's parents to match that amount and save it in a special account for the child.

Health Minister Lu Pau-ching says the child would only be able to access the money once they turn 18. Lu said, "After 18 years, the child would have NT$540,000, (US$17,000) in their first savings account. The money will allow the child to afford higher education or vocational training, start a business or make an investment plan. We hope that in this way we can help them break the vicious cycle of poverty for generations to come."

An estimated 10,000 children could benefit from the new policy in the first year and about 20,000 in the second year. For families who are unable to save money, the health ministry will work with charities to provide material goods and enable them to save. If a family is still unable to save after six months, they can receive counseling from social workers.

Although children born before January 1, 2016 are not eligible for the new policy, they can still get assistance under the current social welfare program.

Source: Radio Taiwan International