Sat, Dec 27, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Lawmakers pass budget for vouchers

LEGISLATURE UNITESThe pan-blues and pan-greens joined together in the chant: 'Let's spend money to stimulate the economy. Happy New Year'

By Flora Wang and Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators hold up placards encouraging consumers to spend after the consumer voucher special budget of NT$85.65 billion passed its third legislative reading yesterday.

PHOTO: LIU HSIN-DE, TAIPEI TIMES

Lawmakers across party lines yesterday unanimously approved the Cabinet’s special budget request for the consumer vouchers scheme.

The final budget totaled NT$85.6 billion (US$2.5 billion) after legislators cut about NT$49.3 million.

As announced on Nov. 18, the government will take out loans to cover the budget.

Along with the legislature’s approval of the the Special Act for Distributing Consumer Vouchers to Boost the Economy (振興經濟消費券發放特別條例) on Dec. 5, the passage of the budget enables the government to issue the vouchers to the public on Jan. 18 in accordance with the Ministry of the Interior’s (MOI) plan.

The ministry estimates that 23,260,000 people will qualify for the vouchers.

The vouchers will expire on Sept. 30 next year.

After the budget proposal cleared the legislative floor, pan-blue and pan-green lawmakers chanted together: “Let’s spend money to stimulate the economy. Happy New Year.”

Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) regretted the legislature’s rejection of the DPP’s proposal that the government issue cash instead of vouchers.

He also expressed concern that the next generation would be even more in debt as a result of the scheme, but he still congratulated the public on receiving the vouchers.

KMT Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕), head of the legislature’s Finance Committee, said the vouchers were meant to encourage people to spend more money and help boost the economy, instead of encouraging the public to save more money.

Meanwhile, Chunghua Post announced yesterday that its post offices nationwide would be open during the weekend following the Lunar New Year holidays for the public to pick up their consumer vouchers.

The Executive Yuan has stated that the first batch of consumer vouchers would be distributed on Jan. 18 at designated locations. Those failing to pick up their vouchers on that day would then have to wait until the Lunar New Year holidays were over and collect them at post offices instead.

The Lunar New Year holidays are from Jan. 24 to Feb 1.

Chunghua Post said approximately 1,200 post offices nationwide would be designated to handle the distribution of vouchers on Feb. 7 and Feb. 8. The service will be available between 1:30pm and 5:30pm on Feb. 7, and from 8:30am to 5:30pm on Feb. 8.

Because post office personnel will distribute the vouchers based on lists compiled by the MOI, the public must collect their vouchers from the post office that serves the same administrative district as their registered residence, the firm said.

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