Taiwan doles out shopping coupons

Published January 19, 2009

TAIPEI, Jan 18: Taiwan started handing out shopping vouchers to each of the island’s residents on Sunday, as part of a 2.5-billion-dollar scheme aimed at boosting its flagging economy.

Every one of the island’s 22.7 million citizens is entitled to the coupons, worth 3,600 Taiwan dollars (107 US) per person, regardless of age, and they can be spent on goods ranging from food and clothing to electronic appliances.

Government employees began distributing them at more than 14,000 locations island-wide early in the morning.

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou said the scheme would give people extra spending power ahead of the Lunar New Year on January 26, and encouraged them to go out and shop.

“Hopefully, the money will provide a boost to retailers,” he told reporters after picking up his own set of vouchers near his residence in Taipei. “So if you are in a position to shop, please spend as much as you can. It could be very helpful to the economy.” Many other countries were monitoring the success of the scheme, he added.

Supporters of the plan have said it should give the island’s sagging economy a much needed shot in the arm, while critics have labelled it a waste of money, with the cost estimated at 85 billion Taiwan dollars (2.53 billion US).

Taiwan’s exports – the major engine of the economy – in December plunged a record 41.9 per cent.—AFP

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