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Anything can be bought with vouchers: premier

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- People will be able to buy anything with consumer vouchers the government will issue next Jan. 19 as a Chinese New Year bonus. This year, Chinese New Year’s Day falls on Jan. 26.

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan announced on Wednesday that issuing the vouchers is aimed at stimulating consumption by pumping NT$82.9 billion into the market, but his Cabinet had a hard time reaching agreement on how each consumer will need to use the NT$3,600 (US$109) before Sept. 30.

After debating the issue among ministers concerned, the Liu Cabinet decided yesterday the vouchers can be used to buy everything transacted in business, anywhere.

The only restriction is that the vouchers cannot be cashed at banks or exchanged for coupons issued by department stores and supermarkets.

Nor can they be used to buy Easycards or similar cards for transportation, such as passes that may be used beyond their Sept. 30 expiration date.

Also forbidden is the use of vouchers to purchase non-business services. For instance, patients can’t use vouchers to see doctors.

“Moreover,” Chen Tain-jy, chairman of Council of Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) told the press, “nobody is allowed to buy or sell vouchers.” In other words, collection of vouchers to purchase an expensive item, such as a car, is prohibited.

Otherwise, all nationals of Taiwan, old and young, can pay for anything anywhere with their vouchers, like cash.

Even vendors are allowed to accept vouchers. You can buy a bowl of beef noodles from one of them and pay for it with one of your vouchers.

But, Chen said, licensed vendors alone can accept vouchers. All they have to do is to reuse them somewhere else where what is known as a unified invoice is issued as receipt.

Unlicensed vendors, though not officially allowed, can accept them and reuse them just like their licensed counterparts.

“You can stay in a hotel or visit a karaoke bar and pay with vouchers,” Chen said. “Of course, you can even buy gold as an investment.”

One can also purchase caregiver services; the caregiver can reuse the voucher.

Vouchers will be available in a book of nine, according to the CEPD. There will be six NT$500 vouchers and three NT$200 vouchers in a book.

The Cabinet is planning to draw up a special supplementary budget of NT$82.9 billion and submit it to the Legislative Yuan for enactment.

If vouchers are to be issued by Jan. 19, the legislature has to pass the budget bill in two weeks.

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