More than 20,000 people ordered government-issued stimulus vouchers in the first five minutes after they went on sale at 9am yesterday, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said.
Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said that by about 9:30am, more than 160,000 people had ordered the Triple Stimulus Vouchers, adding that although there were initial connection problems when the system launched, they were quickly resolved.
The vouchers, which can be used from July 15, are being issued to encourage spending to make up for poor consumption in the first five months of the year caused by COVID-19 fears.
Under the NT$50 billion (US$1.69 billion) program, which is not open to foreign residents unless they have a Taiwanese spouse, people pay NT$1,000 to receive NT$3,000 in vouchers.
The vouchers can be used to buy a wide range of goods and services, but come with several restrictions.
The initial ordering period is to run through Tuesday next week. Orders can be placed at convenience stores nationwide or on the Web site of the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Small and Medium Enterprise Administration at 3000.gov.tw.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
There is to be a second ordering round from Aug. 1 to 7.
People who order vouchers by Tuesday next week can pick them up at convenience stores from July 15 to July 31 by showing their National Health Insurance (NHI) card or national identification card.
People can also purchase them directly from post offices nationwide from July 15 to Dec. 31, by showing their NHI cards or other identity documents.
Another option is for people to register their credit card on the voucher program Web site. After they use their card to spend NT$3,000 at designated stores or outlets, they would receive a refund of NT$2,000.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) urged the central government to take action to prevent long lines forming outside post offices after July 15.
KMT Culture and Communications Committee chairwoman Alicia Wang (王育敏) said that the central government should stagger the distribution of the vouchers to avoid long lines in the summer heat.
People could purchase vouchers from post offices on different days, based on the last digits of their national identification card numbers, she said.
If elderly people were to wait in line for an hour, they could faint or risk heatstroke, she added.
As for underprivileged groups or people with disabilities who are unable to wait in line, the KMT said that NT$2,000 should be distributed directly to them.
To make it easier for office workers to purchase vouchers, Chunghwa Post associate manager Kuo Chun-yang (郭純陽) said that the company plans to keep all of its 1,299 offices open on two Saturdays, July 18 and July 25.
A virtual map showing inventories of vouchers at post offices would be updated every two hours, Kuo added.
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