Taiwan nationals, foreign spouses to receive stimulus vouchers

Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang introduces how to purchase the stimulus vouchers.

TAIPEI (CNA) — Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) announced a stimulus voucher program Tuesday that allows Taiwan nationals and their foreign or Chinese spouses to buy NT$3,000 worth of vouchers for NT$1,000 (US$33).

Other foreign residents, including migrant workers, will not be able to purchase the vouchers, according to Interior Minister Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇).

The vouchers, officially called “Triple Stimulus Vouchers,” are expected to generate real purchases of NT$70 billion, as well as boost economic performance by up to NT$100 billion after related promotional campaigns by private sectors are factored in, Su said at a press conference.

All 23 million Taiwanese citizens and 150,000 foreign and Chinese spouses with residency permits, regardless of age or income level, can purchase the vouchers which will be issued from July 15, in both paper and electronic form, Su added.

For those who want to take advantage of paper vouchers, they can pre-order through 11,000 FamilyMart, 7-ELEVEN, OKmart and Hi-Life convenience stores starting July 1 and receive the vouchers from July 15, explained Minister without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳), who is responsible for digital technology.

People can also purchase the vouchers at 1,300 post offices across Taiwan from July 15, Tang said, adding that national health insurance (NHI) cards are required as is in the case of the mask rationing program.

The vouchers will come in four NT$500 bills and five NT$200 bills, which cannot be exchanged for cash or used to generate change.

Photo courtesy of the Executive Yuan

Digital vouchers can be obtained through credit cards, smart cards such as EasyCard, icash, iPASS and HappyCash, as well as mobile wallets, Tang said.

Users will have to register their accounts from July 1 and have to make purchases of NT$3,000 from July 15 in order to receive NT$2,000-worth of credit, according to Tang.

Credit card users will receive a NT$2,000 deduction from their bill the following month, and smart card users can go to convenience stores to have the credit restored to their cards, while mobile wallets will have the vouchers saved to their APP account, Tang said.

To make it more convenient for digital users, the government is developing ways for people to withdraw NT$2,000 in cash from ATMs, she said.

Asked why the government does not hand out NT$2,000 in cash directly, Su said the aim of the campaign is to generate consumption.

The 1.2 million mid-to-low-income households who cannot afford NT$1,000 will receive a direct deposit of NT$1,000 in their bank accounts they can use to buy the vouchers, Su said.

“The principles of the program are to be easy, convenient, exciting, and take care of the disadvantaged,” he said.

According to Su, the vouchers will expire at the end of the year. They can be used for in-store and certain online purchases in a bid to revive consumer buying amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, he said.

For instance, the vouchers can be used at restaurants, night markets and ticket purchases via online platforms, Su said, but The vouchers cannot be used for other online shopping, nor to pay taxes, credit card bills, or stored in other forms.

Store owners who receive the vouchers can start to cash them from July 23, at banks, for instance, or re-use them for other purchases, he added.

The voucher rollout will cost NT$50 billion and is listed under the Special Act for Prevention, Relief and Revitalization Measures for Severe Pneumonia with Novel Pathogens, the premier said.