The Executive Yuan yesterday referred a NT$85.7 billion (US$2.6 billion) special budget request to the legislature in the latest step toward providing NT$3,600 in consumer vouchers to each Taiwanese before the Lunar New Year holidays start on Jan. 24.
To meet the legislative agenda of completing its review of the budget before Dec. 26, the Executive Yuan yesterday held a provisional meeting on the budget and referred it to the legislature immediately after the meeting.
The legislature is expected to accept the budget request, as the Special Statute for Distributing Consumer Vouchers to Boost the Economy (振興經濟消費券發放特別條例), on which the proposal is based, passed the legislature on Friday.
If everything goes according to plan, the Ministry of the Interior hopes to distribute the vouchers nationwide on Jan. 18 at special stations that would be set up nationwide in a way similar to polling stations.
The ministry estimates that 23,260,000 people will qualify for the vouchers, including Taiwanese nationals, members of their household registered in Taiwan, newborn babies registered before March 31, foreign spouses who have been granted residency, as well as those who die before Jan. 18.
To fund the voucher program, the special statute allows for the government to take out loans by publishing government bonds.
Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Shih Su-mei (石素梅) told a press conference that NT$1.966 billion has been earmarked for administrative costs, such as printing the vouchers and envelopes, advertising the program, paying the wages of public servants working at the distribution stations on Jan. 18 and paying potential commission charged by banks from which shops can get reimbursements for the vouchers they receive.
Meanwhile, in response to President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) statement last week that the Executive Yuan should strive to maximize the positive effect the vouchers can bring to the economy, Government Information Office Minister Vanessa Shih (史亞平) said yesterday that her office would launch a “creativity competition” to find ways of increasing the impact the vouchers would have.
Winners of the competition will receive prizes, and the ideas raised during the competition will be posted online as a reference for shops looking to boost their sales.