The legislature yesterday passed the government-proposed special statute to issue NT$3,600 in consumer vouchers to every citizen and foreign spouse granted residency, while voting down the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) version that would have seen people receive NT$3,800 in cash.
Following the vote, the DPP legislative caucus congratulated the public on the passage of the Special Statute for Distributing Consumer Vouchers to Boost the Economy (振興經濟消費券發放特別條例), while expressing regret over the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) rejection of its version.
“We are happy that everyone will get NT$3,600 to spend … but the KMT has to take full responsibility for any problems that arise, such as forgery, disputes that might happen during distribution, and so on,” DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) said.
The government chose the voucher plan despite estimated administrative costs of NT$8 billion (US$239 million) more than distributing cash because of “face,” DPP Legislator William Lai (賴清德) said.
“If the government had followed the DPP’s suggestion in May, people would have received the money six months ago. Not to mention it’s going to cost the government additional money to print, protect against counterfeiting, distribute and destroy the vouchers,” Lai said.
Lai said that each person could have received NT$3,800 if the DPP version had been accepted.
But despite its criticism, the DPP did not boycott the statute.
KMT Legislator Lin Cang-min (林滄敏) said that distributing cash would not be as effective as vouchers in stimulating consumption because most people would save the money.
The Ministry of the Interior, which the statute authorizes to determine the terms for qualified recipients and the distribution methods, has said that every citizen and foreign spouse would qualify.
Lawmakers yesterday approved a resolution appended to the statute that requires the ministry to include babies registered before Mar. 31 in the program.
The MOI had said the government would follow the voting booth model and set up stations on Jan. 18, the Sunday before Lunar New Year, to distribute the vouchers, estimating that this way they could ensure 80 percent of those qualified would receive their vouchers.
People who can not make it to the stations in person or arrange for others to pick up their vouchers on their behalf on that day would be able to collect the vouchers at post offices through the end of April.
The statute requires that shops not give change when accepting the vouchers and bans the resale of vouchers and the exchange of the vouchers for cash, coupons or gift certificates of any kind.
Shops will be fined up to three times the amount of the consumer vouchers for violating the restrictions on their usage of the coupons.
Meanwhile, Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) Chairman Chen Tain-jy (陳添枝) offered to resign if the consumer voucher program failed to raise the nation’s GDP growth by 0.32 percentage points next year, half the target he originally he set.