Foreigners not wed to Taiwanese ineligible for stimulus vouchers: MOEA

MOEA says stimulus vouchers 'only for Taiwanese citizens,' spouses

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Samples of new stimulus vouchers. (Cabinet photo)

Samples of new stimulus vouchers. (Cabinet photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Foreign residents of Taiwan who are not married to a Taiwanese citizen will not be eligible for stimulus vouchers that will be released next month because the program is "only meant for Taiwanese citizens," according to a Ministry of Economic Affairs spokesperson.

Next month, Taiwan is launching its "Triple Stimulus Voucher" program to help stimulate Taiwan's sagging economy amid the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The program allows Taiwanese citizens, as well as foreign and Chinese spouses, to purchase vouchers worth NT$3,000 (US$101) for the price of NT$1,000.

However, there have been complaints among the foreign community that foreign nationals with valid alien residence certificates (ARCs) not married to Taiwanese citizens are ineligible for the vouchers. When asked by Taiwan News to comment on the controversy, Su Wen-ling (蘇文玲), deputy director-general of the SMEA, confirmed that this is indeed the case.

Su explained that only Taiwanese, spouses of Taiwanese, holders of a permanent resident certificate (定居證, not to be confused with an Alien Permanent Residence Certificate), and those in the process of applying for Taiwanese citizenship are eligible for the vouchers. When asked the reason for this policy, she said that the vouchers are "only meant for Taiwanese citizens," with the hope that they will spend more money on the economy.

She added that when a similar voucher program was activated in 2009 to revitalize the economy amid the Great Recession, foreign spouses were also the only foreign nationals eligible; unlike this wave of coupons, the 2009 stimulus vouchers were worth NT$3,600. When asked if foreigners would be included in a voucher program in the future, she said that she hoped that no such additional programs would be needed and that the situation in Taiwan would improve as rapidly as possible.

As for the pre-orders of the vouchers, beginning July 1 they can be placed at Taiwan's four major convenience store chains. The vouchers will be distributed at all post offices on July 15, and foreign spouses can use their National Health Insurance (NHI) cards or Alien Residence Certificates (ARC) as identification when purchasing the coupons.

Su said that the paper vouchers can be used as money at "all stores" in Taiwan. In addition to the hard copies, the vouchers come in three other forms: credit card payments, contactless smartcards, and mobile payments.

Those who spend NT$3,000 (US$100) with their credit cards will receive a NT$2,000 deduction from the next month's bill, while users of contactless smartcards and mobile payment apps who spend NT$3,000 will receive NT$2,000 worth of credit deposited into their accounts, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs website. Those who opt for one of the digital payment methods, spend NT$3,000, and receive notice of eligibility can use one of nearly 40 different types of bank cards issued by one of three banks at an ATM to receive a NT$2,000 cash reimbursement, reported CNA.

The banks that will offer cashback via ATMs include Taishin International Bank, CTBC Bank, and Cathay United Bank. These three banks account for about 50 percent of all ATMs in Taiwan.