Opposition lawmakers yesterday weighed in on the “Triplicate Stimulus Coupons” (振興三倍券) to be issued by the Executive Yuan next month, saying the system is too confusing and casting doubt on their ability to spur consumption.
People can purchase the coupons in five ways, which is confusing, especially for elderly people and people living in rural areas, who suffer the most from the digital gap, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus whip Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) said.
People would have to go to post offices to pay for the coupons, much like when they lined up for masks and the NT$10,000 subsidy for uninsured people amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which is inconvenient, he added.
Photo courtesy of the TPP caucus
“Is there no way to spare people from waiting in lines? I highly doubt that,” Lin said.
People must pay NT$1,000 to claim NT$3,000 of coupons, meaning a household might have to pay up to NT$4,000 or NT$5,000 if all of its members were to claim the coupons, which would be a financial burden for some families, he said.
The functionality of the coupons also has room for improvement, Lin said.
“Some families just want to pay their rent or utility bills, but the government is asking them to go shopping,” he said.
The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) released a poll it conducted last week, in which 39 percent of respondents said they would “definitely” sell their coupons for a profit, while 31.2 percent said they “might” do so.
TPP Legislator Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠) said he feared that the chaotic scenes that occurred at district offices when people claimed their NT$10,000 subsidies would recur.
The rules for purchasing the coupons would entail considerable work by convenience store and post office clerks, and would be time-consuming for claimants, Chiu said, adding that these hidden costs could outweigh the coupons’ expected benefits.
Many small and medium-sized enterprises are anticipating an inflow of cash to weather the economic fallout of the pandemic, so the government should issue the coupons before the Dragon Boat Festival long weekend, which starts on June 25, rather than making businesses wait until July 15, he said.
The government must also make sure that frontline workers and civil servants are familiar with the rules for foreign spouses who hold different residence permits to claim the coupons, he said.
New Power Party caucus director-general Claire Wang (王婉諭) said the rule that allows people to use the coupons to deduct NT$2,000 from their credit card bills if they pay for them electronically is unlikely to spur consumption, as most credit card users will likely use the coupons as cash rewards.
The sale of the coupons would also require significant personnel under current rules, she said, adding that as people are required to pay for the coupons, it might affect their willingness to claim them.
Democratic Progressive Party caucus director-general Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬), on the other hand, called on people to spend a little money to claim the nearly 70 percent discount, thus boosting the liquidity of businesses.
Cheng said he is against banning the resale of coupons, adding that if people are willing to pay a small price to buy others’ coupons, they must deem them a worthwhile investment and are most likely to spend them.
Separately yesterday, the KMT criticized the Executive Yuan’s plan to transfer NT$1,000 to the bank accounts of people from low to middle-income families for them to obtain the stimulus coupons, saying that it would cause inconvenience.
Many such people might not have access to a smartphone or know how to pre-order the coupons online, and would have to make a trip to a post office, KMT Culture and Communications Committee chairwoman Alicia Wang (王育敏) said.
Instead of transferring the money, she suggested that the government deliver NT$3,000 of coupons to the families directly by mail, or give them NT$2,000 — the amount others would receive in discounts — or NT$3,000 in cash.
The face value of the coupons is too low, and the program’s launch date is too late for them to be effective in stimulating the economy, she said, accusing the government of being inefficient, although it has been planning the coupon program since February.
The government’s coupon program, like its pandemic relief plan, is too complex, Wang said, urging the government to listen to critics and make adjustments.
Additional reporting by Sherry Hsiao
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