The government aims to provide an economic stimulus by encouraging consumption, not by sending people big checks, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday in response to calls by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers for the government to up the ante on planned coupons to revitalize sectors affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Su made the remarks when fielding a question from KMT Legislator Lo Ming-tsai (羅明才) during a plenary session at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on whether the government could give each resident NT$10,000 (US$330) in cash instead of coupons with a face value of NT$800.
The US on Thursday introduced an economic stimulus package that would, if approved, give each US citizen US$1,200 and each child US$500, Lo said.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
The Democratic Progressive Party administration has spent NT$2 trillion building offshore wind farms, more than NT$800 billion on the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, and hundreds of billions on arms procurement and a program to build submarines domestically, Lo said.
The government is rich, so it should be able to roll out more generous stimulus packages, he said.
Su said that it would be easy for the government to mindlessly push up the national debt by giving people cash, just as the administration of then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) did during the 2008 financial crisis, when it gave people NT$3,600 consumer vouchers, increasing national debt by more than NT$80 billion.
The government hopes to improve on the former administration’s policy by using a different approach, one that incentivizes people to go shopping, Su said.
Lo asked whether the government could give each resident NT$8,000, to which the premier replied that it is not a question of the amount, but of the government’s stance.
More subsidy programs to help stricken sectors stay afloat are under way, for example a fuel subsidy for taxis would go into effect next month, Su said.
Other KMT lawmakers who had signed up to speak at the beginning of the meeting clamored for more generous stimulus packages.
Despite the government having announced that the National Stabilization Fund, which is worth NT$500 billion, would be used to buoy the TAIEX, and the central bank cutting its rediscount rate, panic buying on Thursday showed that the measures were not enough to allay people’s concerns, KMT Legislator Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷) said.
KMT Legislator Lee De-wei (李德維) said that it was not only the US that has plans for cash handouts, the governments of Hong Kong and Singapore are mulling stimulus packages that would give residents HK$10,000 (US$1,289) and S$300 (US$207) respectively.
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