Sat, Nov 15, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Cabinet mulls vouchers to ease economic woes

DOLE Ministry of the Interior officials said academics had already floated the idea of consumer coupons, but that it was too early to tell how or if the plan would work

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The Cabinet has not decided whether the government should issue purchase coupons to the public as a means to stimulate consumer spending, Executive Yuan officials said yesterday.

Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) Chairman Chen Tain-jy (陳添枝) proposed to Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) at a closed-door meeting a day earlier that the government subsidize the issuing of purchase vouchers or merchandise coupons in an effort to boost spending and pull shopping districts around the country out of financial difficulties.

Chen’s proposal, however, received a mixed reaction, with officials from the premier’s office saying that the idea of distributing coupons would require very careful planning, while a Cabinet minister was reported as saying that cash should be distributed to those in need, rather than coupons.

Vice Premier Paul Chiu (邱正雄), Minister of Economic Affairs Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘) and Minister of Finance Lee Sush-der (李述德) also attended the meeting at the Executive Yuan.

The CEPD chief made several suggestions as part of his initiative, including tax cuts, tax rebates and the issuance of purchase vouchers, as means of revving up the sagging domestic economy amid sluggishness triggered by the global financial crisis.

Officials of the Ministry of the Interior’s Social Affairs Department said that experts from the academic sector had also proposed the idea of consumer coupons, but it is still too early to tell how or even whether the idea should be implemented.

“The CEPD must first put forth a plan explaining how the coupons would work, which stores should be included in the program and whether the rich would be excluded from the coupon beneficiary list,” the officials said.

The Japanese government distributed purchase vouchers to children and low-income senior citizens in the spring of 1999 as part of an economic recovery plan.

Similar tickets, including food stamps and cash or gift cards, have also been distributed by the US government in an effort to stimulate consumer spending.

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