Wed, Jan 21, 2009 - Page 1 News List

MOI confirms vouchers may be missing

By Loa Iok-sin, Flora Wang, Shih Hsiu-chuan and Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTERS

“Each cent of the money is not only hard-earned taxpayer money, but also money that belongs to our national treasury. I will not let our national treasury suffer even one cent in losses,” he said, choking back tears.

Liao said he would step down if the public was not satisfied once the rate of distribution accuracy had been shown to be at least 99.993 percent.

Meanwhile, when asked how the ministry would deal with a case in Banciao City (板橋), Taipei County, in which a woman said the five voucher envelopes she received were empty, Chien said: “We can’t really do anything about it — just like you can’t ask the bank to compensate you if you find you have less cash than you withdrew after leaving the counter.”

Earlier yesterday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said the consumer vouchers had had a positive effect on the economy.

The administration will continue to track the effect of the vouchers, he said. If they stimulate consumption, they could help stabilize the service sector and the economy as a whole, he said.

Ma made the remarks while receiving newly appointed presidential advisers at the Presidential Office yesterday morning.

The world is watching Taiwan’s attempt to boost the economy with vouchers, Ma said, adding that the country’s economic fundamentals were sound.

However, the public should be patient as it may take time to revitalize the economy, he said.

Executive Yuan Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said yesterday that media had made too much of his remarks on Sunday that the government was considering issuing consumer vouchers again if the vouchers proved effective.

The government has not decided to issue consumer vouchers again as the effects must still be assessed, Su said.

Su made the remarks in response to reports in the Chinese-language Commercial Times and the Economic Daily News. Both published front-page stories saying the government might repeat the scheme.

The government said in November that it expected the NT$85.7 billion voucher scheme to boost this year’s GDP growth by 0.64 percentage points.

The Economic Daily News quoted Su as saying the government would issue vouchers again if it would raise GDP growth by more than 1 percentage point.

Ma said during a TV interview last night that it was unlikely vouchers would be issued again because they were a “quick fix” to stimulate the economy rather than a “vitamin.”

Ma said the effect of the vouchers would not be apparent until March or April. The government will decide what to do next after an evaluation, he said.

When asked for comment, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator and Vice Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) expressed support for a second wave of vouchers.

“As long as the government finds [the scheme] effective and the nation’s finances permit it, I think the government could consider distributing vouchers again,” Wu said.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers disagreed.

DPP legislative caucus whip Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) said government officials believed the voucher scheme had worked simply because people had spent them, but that this was a simplistic view.

“It is natural for people to go shopping for groceries before the Lunar New Year. This has nothing to do with boosting the economy,” Pan said.

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