TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Cabinet is reportedly planning to release NT$5,000 (US$179) in vouchers in September to stimulate the nation's economy as it slowly comes out of a soft lockdown following a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Friday (July 30) convened a meeting of relevant ministries to discuss the rollout of NT$5,000 vouchers based on a budget of NT$110 billion, reported BCC. Under the plan, members of the public would purchase the NT$5,000 vouchers for NT$1,000, with both physical and digital versions released simultaneously.
The vouchers will likely be released in late September, depending on the vaccination rate and the situation with the outbreak, reported SET News. Other ministries, such as the Ministry of Culture and Sports Administration, are expected to release their own vouchers at the same time.
On Monday (Aug. 2), some legislators expressed concerns that having people pick up the vouchers in person could lead to new cluster infections. Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Fai Hong-tai (費鴻泰) said his party has always advocated the distribution of stimulus checks directly to households to reduce person-to-person contact and to cut down on administrative costs.
Fai also questioned the logic in having people pay NT$1,000 to receive the vouchers. "Why pay NT$1,000 for NT$5,000. In fact, they only get NT$4,000. They're getting taken advantage of again."
He added that the process should be simplified and that the stimulus funds should be distributed as soon as possible. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) also argued that recipients should not be required to exchange cash for coupons to reduce the risk of group gatherings.
However, DPP Legislator Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑) pointed out that the NT$50 billion invested in the previous wave of NT$3,000 vouchers generated nearly NT$180 billion in economic benefits. Hsu argued that direct cash handouts would not have the multiplier effect that the vouchers have.