The principle of equality prescribed by Article 7 of the Constitution does not mean a formal equality in an absolute and mechanical sense. Rather, it aims to guarantee the substantive equality of the people in the sense of equal protection under law. The legislative body, based on the value system of the Constitution and the purpose of enactment, could consider the differences of the addressed subject areas and reasonably treat them differently. The improvement of the people’s welfare is one of the basic principles of the Constitution, which is self-evident in light of the Preamble, Article 1, the Fundamental National Policies in Chapter 13 and the 10th Amendment. Based on this principle, the state should provide various kinds of benefits, in order to guarantee the basic needs of people required by human dignity, to assist the economically disadvantaged, and to implement welfare measures such as social safety. Since the said benefits are related to the allocation of state resources, the legislative body has the full authority to make decisions on the issues of the priority of various kinds of benefits, the purposes of enactments, the scope of beneficiaries, the ways and amount of provision, etc. The legislative body can consider relevant factors of social policies such as the necessity of benefit and public finance in the law-making process, and enact such policies to make a restricted allocation of welfare resources. Article 5 (revised on November 26, 1997) and Article 20 of the Act Governing the Reconstruction of Old Villages for Military Personnel and Their Dependents, effective on February 5, 1996, as well as Article 9 of its Enforcement Rules effective on July 23, 1996, both prescribe that the families that resided in the original housing have a prior option to buy a new residence unit built pursuant to the said Act, the right to receive government subsidy for housing as well as the qualification to apply for a loan with a special interest rate for the down payment. The purpose of the enactment is to provide appropriate assistance to such families, which is consistent with the basic principle of improvement of welfare, and does not violate the intent of Article 7 of the Constitution.
However, in light of the limited state resources, the legislations of social policies have to consider the following factors to make an appropriate allocation of welfare resources: the economic and financial conditions of the state, the principle of resource utilization, and should also try to ensure the equity between beneficiaries and other people. As regarding the scope of beneficiaries, the legislations should consider the beneficiaries’ finances, income, costs for family support as well as the need of welfare and then regulate accordingly. It is forbidden to base the consideration of special treatment only on the beneficiaries’ specific position or status. The rules governing the ways and amount of provision should also seek to be consistent with the basic needs of beneficiaries, and not to exceed the extent necessary for welfare purposes and thus result in overprovision. Article 3, Paragraph 1, of the said Act prescribes: “The term ‘Old Villages for Military Personnel and Their Dependents’ should mean such villages constructed before December 31, 1980, and which must also meet one of the following conditions: 1) constructed and allocated by the government; 2) financed by donations from the Chinese Women’s Anti-Communist Union; 3) constructed by the housing family on public land; and 4) other situations approved by the relevant authorities.” However, whether the public housing is deemed old and in need of reconstruction should depend on the real condition of the house and the need of community renovation. In order to avoid wasting state resources, the decision must not be based solely on the date of the completion of construction. The second sentence of Article 5, Paragraph 1, prescribed: “On the occasion of the death of the title holder, his spouse has the priority option to this title of possession; in the case that the spouse also dies, their sons or daughters acquire the option; no others are entitled to possession.” The purpose of this rule is surely to take care of the descendents of military personnel. However, the rule may result in overprovision as it disregards whether there is real need on the part of a son or daughter for the provision of public housing, and it also unconditionally entitles sons or daughters with the same right of the original holder to the priority option and the subsidy. And Article 24, Paragraph 1, of the same Act prescribes: “For a residence unit sold and distributed by the relevant authorities, except through inheritance according to law, the buyer is forbidden to sell, mortgage, gratuitously transfer or exchange the residence unit and the land occupied within five years of title registration.” Since the money is primarily financed by the state and not the buyer, the legislative body should consider restricting the buyer’s right to transfer in order to utilize the limited resources. The restrictions can include the parties to transfer, the price of transaction, or other appropriate measures. Some rules of the said Act thus do not accord with the restricted allocation of state resources, which aims to realize the principle of substantive equality and the principle of resource utilization. The legislative body should therefore revise any part of the abovementioned Act not in accord with the intent of this Interpretation.