The government should issue cash handouts instead of coupons as part of its relief and recovery plan for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said yesterday.
The effectiveness of the coupon policy proposed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs might be limited due to its use of mobile payment systems and other restrictions, the party said.
Older people and those unfamiliar with mobile payment systems might find redeeming the coupons inconvenient, it said.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
The proposed coupons, which would give people a 25 percent discount on some purchases, “ignores the problem that poor and unemployed people have trouble paying even basic expenses,” it added.
Citing Singapore’s response as an example, KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said that the city-state’s government plans to give S$600 (US$420) to citizens aged 21 and older.
In Taiwan, the tourism and transportation industries can receive NT$10,000 (US$332) per month in wage subsidies for each worker, while service industries hit especially hard by the pandemic can receive up to NT$20,000 per month per employee, said Wang, who chairs the KMT Culture and Communications Committee.
In Singapore, the government is subsidizing 75 percent — to a maximum of S$4,600 — of all workers’ wages this month, she said.
Local governments have “almost no role” in a NT$60 billion special budget approved by the Legislative Yuan last month, the KMT said.
Local governments have a better understanding than the central government about which local small businesses, self-employed workers and geographic areas require aid, the party said, adding that the central government should give local governments a more active role in distributing relief funds.
Amid the intensifying calls from the KMT for cash handouts this week, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Tuesday said that the effectiveness of distributing cash would not be great.
Instead of doing what is “most convenient” and handing out cash, the government has taken the time to make plans for each industry, he said.
If the government only handed out cash, some people would spend it, while others might save the money, he added.
Many of the Executive Yuan’s plans involve giving out cash, Su said.
However, not everyone would be eligible, he said, adding that cash is being given to disadvantaged groups, such as mid-to-low income households and people with special circumstances in need.
An example of special circumstances would be if an employer is unable to pay its employees, he added.
The government is not saying that cash handouts cannot be made, but it would be “lazy” to not distinguish between wealthy and poor groups, and make everyone eligible, Su said.
Minister Without Portfolio Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) on Tuesday told a news conference that if the government gave every resident NT$12,000 like Singapore, the money would also trickle down to business owners, who would still proceed with any plans to cut their payrolls, even after receiving a handout.
Additional reporting by Chen Yu-fu, Peng Wan-hsin and Lin Liang-sheng
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