The China Post staff
The Cabinet is hoping to create up to 6,000 new jobs in the tourist industry by changing the way civil servants can qualify to receive travel subsidies. Beginning in June 2001, the government began implementing a policy whereby civil servants were required to take an extra seven days of vacation each year, for a total of fourteen. To encourage workers in the public sector to use the extra time to travel around in Taiwan, the Executive Yuan took the extra step of offering travel subsidies of up to NT$16,000 a year. Under the original policy, civil servants could use receipts issued during the weekdays for transportation, lodging, meals, and shopping to apply for the subsidies. However, a recent review of the policy found that the results were not as expected. Instead of actually spending time travelling within Taiwan, some government employees were simply using receipts from purchases at department stores or shopping centers to apply for the subsidies. And many other civil servants weren’t using their extra time off to travel. In response, the Council for Economic Planning and Development suggested issuing public workers travel cards that could be used like credit cards for travel within the island.
The Tourism Bureau has been charged with finding a travel agency in the private sector to work with the government on the project.
Travel cards will be issued to some quarter of a million civil servants by the first of next year. Vice Premier Lin Hsin-i said that the new plan will help stimulate the local economy by increasing domestic spending and create up an estimated 6,000 new jobs in the process.