Taipei, Jan. 16 (CNA) The Kinmen county council passed a draft bill Friday stipulating that every actual resident of the outlying island will be entitled to receive liquor vouchers equivalent to NT$18,000 (US$540) this year.
The council passed the bill that was proposed by the Kinmen county government after Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor Inc. -- the island's major cash cow -- offered a portion of its annual profits to county residents as feedback and gifts.
According to the bill, each Kinmen resident born prior to Jan.
16, 2009 and who has completed a household registration in Kinmen prior to Dec. 31, 2006, will be presented by Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor Inc. with vouchers worth NT$3,600 on Tomb Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival this year, redeemable for the company's products sold at the company's retail outlets.
The largesse is estimated to cost Kinmen Kaoliang around NT$1 billion to supply the roughly 56,000 people registered as residents of Kinmen who actually live there and is a move fashioned on the free shopping vouchers that the central government is offering to all Republic of China citizens in a bid to stimulate consumption and rev up economic growth.
The Kinmen county council also resolved that the county government should take the opportunity of distributing the liquor vouchers to clean up the island's "ghost population" -- estimated to number about 28,000 -- most of whom maintain household registrations in name only but do not actually reside there.
According to county government census figures, the registered population of Kinmen stands at about 84,000 at present, some 28,000 of whom are believed to number the "ghost population" -- residents of Taiwan proper who have completed household registrations in Kinmen based on political considerations and who pad the vote during general elections, as well as some Kinmen residents who have moved to Taiwan proper for the sake of their children's education, leaving their Kinmen houses empty.
Commenting on the county council's passage of the liquor voucher bill, Kinmen Magistrate Lee Chu-feng noted that this year will be the 60th anniversary of the battle of Kuningtou, in which numerous Republic of China armed forces personnel and Kinmen civilians were killed in that battle against the Chinese communists.
Lee said the successful county-run liquor company has a responsibility to give back to society and it will help sponsor activities to deepen Taiwan's understanding of Kinmen's suffering during the battle.
The Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor Inc., originally established by the ROC military posted on Kinmen as a business unit, was handed over to the Kinmen county government in 1992 after the military relinquished administrative control of the island.
The company posted pre-tax earnings of NT$478 billion in 2008, a record high.
(By Deborah Kuo)