Sat, Jan 10, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Collecting vouchers will be tough for homeless: advocate

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

With the government set to distribute NT$3,600 in consumer vouchers to each Taiwanese citizen starting on Jan. 18, a social welfare advocate complained yesterday that it would be hard for homeless people to pick them up.

Ning Shun-yen (甯順彥), director of the Homeless Welfare Foundation’s Pingan station in Chiayi City, said the consumer voucher policy would not benefit homeless people, because most of them have lost contact with their families and do not know where their households are registered, which would make it difficult for them to pick up their vouchers.

“The measure demanding the public receive the shopping vouchers with their ID cards, personal seals and a government notice at appointed stations in the same districts where their households are registered has made it very difficult for homeless people to get the coupons,” he said.

“The rule has put them in a more awkward situation than inmates serving jail terms, and what is worse, it would deprive the homeless of their right to the consumer vouchers,” he said, adding that his service station was willing to help homeless people return to their registered place of residence to receive the vouchers.

He said there were about 300 homeless people in the Chiayi area, with many of them coming from other cities and counties. Some of them, aware of where to collect their vouchers, were not willing to do so out of fear that their whereabouts would be exposed, he said.

Ning said a homeless man surnamed Lin who frequents Pingan station was worried about how to return to his registered home in Taoyuan County as he did not have any money to pay for the trip. Another homeless man identified as Liu would not get his consumer vouchers either because he was unwilling to renew contact with his family because of long strained relations, Ning said.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, a total of 14,202 locations will be set up across the country for people to claim the consumer vouchers, which will be issued by the central government on Jan. 18 as part of a package of measures to boost domestic spending and prop up the nation’s sliding economy.

Those who fail to pick up the coupons on the specified day are entitled to collect the vouchers at selected post offices between Feb. 7 and April 30.

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