Stimulus vouchers can be used for online ticket purchases: Cabinet

CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — The government’s new stimulus voucher program will allow the online purchase of tickets for cultural and sporting events, the Cabinet said Thursday, adding that the policy remains consistent even as operational details are still being worked out.

The “Triple Stimulus Voucher” program, set to launch on July 15, is aimed at spurring consumer spending by allowing people to purchase NT$3,000-worth of vouchers for NT$1,000. They exclude most forms of online shopping, which has been less impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic than brick-and-mortar stores.

The government’s statement came in response to a United Daily News report that day claiming that the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) had scrapped as unfeasible a plan to identify e-commerce firms for exclusion from the voucher program based on their tax identification numbers.

The ministry backtracked on Wednesday and instead asked the culture and education ministries to provide whitelists of reputable online ticket vendors for cultural and sporting events and travel, the report said.

Cabinet spokesperson Ting Yi-ming (丁怡銘) said in a press conference that the government has been consistent in its plans to allow the vouchers to be used for online ticket purchases, and that it is simply looking for the best way to identify the vendors.

How the government chooses to identify firms is an operational detail and does not amount to a policy shift, MOEA Vice Minister Lin Chuan-neng (林全能) added.

Lin also responded to criticism from the Consumers’ Foundation that the vouchers, like gift certificates, should be refundable for cash when they expire on Dec. 31 this year.

The stimulus vouchers have their legal basis in a special act the government passed to respond to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lin explained, and are therefore exempt from laws governing the use of gift certificates.

Furthermore, allowing people to refund the vouchers for cash would remove the incentive to spend them, which is the whole point of issuing them in the first place, Lin said.

MOEA Vice Minister Lin Chuan-neng explains the voucher program at a Cabinet press conference on Thursday. (Photo/CNA)

Meanwhile, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said he is encouraging Taiwanese to travel locally this year, as a further means of boosting the domestic tourism industry.

Taiwanese make an average of 17 million trips abroad every year, which could have a very beneficial effect if that money was redirected to the domestic market, Su said.