Sat, Jan 24, 2009 - Page 3 News List

More than US$350,000 in consumer vouchers lost

STASH IN THE TRASH A local television network reported yesterday that a cleaning lady in Penghu had discovered consumer vouchers worth NT$28,800 at a garbage dump

By Jenny W. hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The first review on discrepancies in the consumer voucher distribution process found the government was still NT$12.2 million (US$354,400) short, Minister of the Interior Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) said yesterday, promising to take full responsibility for the multi-million NT dollar blunder.

According to postal service statistics released on Thursday night, a total of NT$19,831,900 in vouchers was not accounted for after last Sunday’s distribution, when 14,202 centers nationwide dispensed more than NT$82 million to around 92 percent of those eligible to receive the vouchers.

The ministry launched its own review process on all 1,499 distribution centers that reported shortfalls of more than NT$3,600.

As of 3pm yesterday, the total discrepancy was NT$12,283,900, or NT$7,548,000 less than an earlier estimate, he said.

However, a final tally will not be confirmed and announced until Thursday, after the Lunar New Year break, when a second recount is carried out on the remainder of the distribution centers.

He said that after another recount, the number could be reduced to around NT$6 million.

The vouchers program was part of the administration efforts to boost the economy.

While the pan-blues touted the program, the opposition panned the vouchers as delayed debt, which would have to be paid in full by future generations.

Liao said more than 50 percent of the discrepancy was a result of volunteers mistakenly handing out the vouchers without making sure the recipient had properly stamped the list with their own personal chop.

“Please do not blame the volunteers and the staff. They worked very hard,” he said on the verge of tears on Tuesday.

Liao said he had not expected the discrepancy to be so large and reiterated that he would step down if necessary.

He also thanked those who had volunteered to donate their own vouchers to compensate for the shortfall, but said he was confident that after a thorough review the margin of error would be reduced to within the insured limit.

Asked for comment, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-lang (蔡煌瑯) said yesterday that he would reserve any comment on the matter until the final tally is announced after the holiday.

Meanwhile, a local TV network reported yesterday that a cleaning lady in Penghu found a stack of vouchers worth NT$28,800 in a garbage dump.

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