The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and representatives from its city and county council caucuses yesterday again urged the government to adopt a universal cash handout scheme as a COVID-19 relief measure, saying that it would be more effective than a proposed stimulus voucher program.
Despite the lowering of a nationwide COVID-19 alert to level 2 and an easing of restrictions, business has not picked up, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) told a news conference at the KMT headquarters in Taipei.
That is because people are worried, as many have not received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, he said.
Since the detection of a local COVID-19 outbreak in May, many restaurants and food stalls have been forced to suspend business, and some have closed permanently, Chiang said.
Individual workers are also struggling, he said, adding that public opinion on a universal cash handout scheme was “clear.”
Two-thirds of people want such a program, he said, citing the results of a poll released on Friday by the KMT-affiliated National Policy Foundation.
The economic benefits of last year’s Triple Stimulus Voucher program, which allowed people to purchase NT$3,000 of vouchers for NT$1,000, were not good, Chiang said.
Moreover, the distribution of the vouchers created “chaos” and increased costs, he said.
People have demonstrated self-discipline in cooperating with the government’s COVID-19 prevention efforts, Chiang said.
The government should not “cause trouble” for the public with its COVID-19 relief plans, he added.
As of Saturday, 56,687 workers were on unpaid leave nationwide, KMT Culture and Communications Committee director-general Alicia Wang (王育敏) said, citing data released on Monday by the Ministry of Labor.
Many Taiwanese have been affected by the local COVID-19 outbreak and are struggling, she said.
The Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics recorded an unemployment rate of 4.8 percent in June, which set a 10-year high, the KMT said in a statement.
“Relief requires cash,” and “Handing out cash is more practical,” Chiang, Wang and representatives from the KMT’s city and county council caucuses chanted.
Several KMT city and council caucuses have called on the government to implement a universal cash handout program, while other KMT caucuses would be making the same proposal soon, the party said.
The central government should switch from its planned stimulus voucher program to a universal cash handout scheme, the KMT said.
According to news reports, the Executive Yuan is planning a “quintuple” stimulus voucher program that would allow people to purchase NT$5,000 of vouchers for NT$1,000.
Additional reporting by CNA
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