Taiwan’s Cabinet on Tuesday announced a stimulus coupon program targeting industries hard-hit by Covid-19.

The cash-equivalent coupons, available both in print and digital formats starting on July 15, are expected to boost consumer spending by NT$100 billion (US$3.34 billion).

Taiwanese nationals and foreign spouses can pay NT$1,000 in exchange for an NT$3,000 voucher. The vouchers can be used at most leisure-related businesses, including restaurants, hair salons, department stores, concerts, and hotels.

“Like the face mask system, people can buy their coupons at post offices by presenting their National Health Insurance cards,” Digital Minister Audrey Tang said. Convenience stores will also offer people the option to pre-order the coupons starting on July 1, and Tang assured that stores will not retain their personal data.


Photo Credit: CNA

Premier Su Tseng-chang announcing the stimulus vouchers, June 2, 2020.

Restrictions apply to the vouchers, according to Premier Su Tseng-chang. Su explained that online retailers have not been affected by the pandemic like the smaller brick-and-mortar stores, hence e-commerce websites are mostly excluded from the program. In addition, the vouchers cannot be used for tax payments, tobacco, stocks, insurance, among others.

For low-income individuals, the government will deposit NT$1,000 directly into their bank accounts for the purpose of purchasing the stimulus coupons.

Taiwanese netizens who prefer cash to the voucher suggested using the coupons at Costco, where they can take advantage of the 90-day store return policy.

Prior to the Cabinet’s announcement, former President Ma Ying-jeou had urged the current administration to issue cash handouts, which he had done amid the financial crisis fallout in 2009. The cash coupons issued by Ma only contributed to 0.28 percent of the national GDP at the time, according to the National Development Council (NDC), far below the expected 0.63 percent.

According to an NDC survey evaluating the impact of the 2009 cash coupons, around 72 percent of residents spent the coupons on their existing daily expenses rather than purchasing non-essential items.

The latest stimulus coupon aims at encouraging consumption instead of saving, Su said. There is no age restriction for the coupon, but foreign residents, including migrant workers, are ineligible for the coupon program.

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TNL Editor: Daphne K. Lee, Nicholas Haggerty (@thenewslensintl)

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