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Handling of the “Distribution of Consumption Vouchers to Revitalize the Economy” project by the Ministry of Finance

Taiwan’s economic growth is primarily fuelled by exports. As demand from the US, Europe and Japan tumbled rapidly, during the global financial crisis, Taiwan’s exports also experienced significant decline, which indirectly resulted in the downturn in private consumption and investments. The domestic economy was in a state of recession. In light of the situation, the government, in an effort to boost private consumption, adopted Japan’s experience and formulated the plan to distribute consumption vouchers in hope of revitalising the economy. The aim was to assist the great majority of business operators to sustain the temporary impacts of the financial crisis by stimulating private consumption, effectively opening up more business opportunities, boosting the domestic economy and maintaining the stability in production and the employment market. The optimal goal is to ensure that the domestic economy resumes growth within the shortest time possible.

The Ministry of Finance has worked tirelessly since receiving the instructions for carrying out this major project to the date (January 19, 2009) on which the consumption vouchers may be officially redeemed for payment. The timeframe of just over a month gave us little time and we had no similar experience in the past to carry out such a project. There were so many preliminary operations to be done. However,we worked in full collaboration with other departments (organizations) to overcome the obstacles and successfully completed the following tasks:
1. Preparation of the Budget and Printing of the Consumption Vouchers:
(i) The Ministry, in accordance with the “Special Act for Distribution of Consumption Vouchers to Revitalize the Economy”, completed the preparation of the special budget for consumption vouchers and the printing, inspection, physical inventory and delivery of 209 million consumption vouchers and 23 million envelopes. The consumption vouchers were delivered to the Ministry of Interior on time for distribution to the citizens on January 18, 2009 to achieve the aim of stimulating consumption and boosting the economy in a timely manner.
(ii) To ensure that no-one gets hold of the surplus consumption vouchers, all undistributed consumption vouchers and the stencils used for printing the vouchers were destroyed on December 24 and 25, 2009, after the closing date (November 2, 2009) for the exchange of the consumption vouchers.
2. Exchange of Consumption Vouchers:
(i) The Ministry was authorized to handle the exchange of consumption vouchers pursuant to Paragraph 4, Article 7 of the “Special Act for Distribution of Consumption Vouchers to Revitalize the Economy”. The Ministry completed drafting the “Regulations on the Exchange of Consumption Vouchers for Boosting the Economy” in January 2009 and assigned thirteen major financial institutions (4,198 locations available for the exchange) as the agents to handle the exchange of the consumption vouchers for the convenience of business operators to exchange the consumption vouchers for payment.
(ii) The Ministry also formulated the standard operation procedures for the exchange of consumption vouchers and negotiated with the relevant financial institutions to waive the inter-bank transfer fee associated with the exchange of consumption vouchers. The policy also ensured immediate crediting of funds to account.
(iii) Press releases were issued from time to time to serve as the reminder for matters associated with the exchange of the consumption vouchers for the convenience of business operators.
(iv) The Ministry set up a special web section for “Exchange of Consumption Vouchers” to provide citizens access to the on-line inquiry facility.
(v) From the date (January 19, 2009) following the voucher distribution date to the voucher exchange closing date (November 2, 2009), consumption vouchers totalling NT$ 82.93 billion were presented to the financial institutions for payment, representing 99.6% of the total amount (NT$ 83.262 billion) distributed. The process was widely acclaimed by business operators due to the Ministry’s efforts to ensure that a sound plan was put in place, that a wide choice of locations were made available for the exchange and that the exchange procedures were simplified to accomplish the aim of “stress-free exchange and instant fund-to-account”.
(vi) The Council for Economic Planning and Development made the announcement on October 8, 2009 to abolish the “Special Act for the Distribution of Consumption Vouchers to Revitalize the Economy”. Upon destroying the excess printed consumption vouchers and after the closing date for voucher exchange, the Ministry made the announcement on January 7, 2010 to abolish the “Regulations on the Exchange of Consumption Vouchers for Boosting the Economy”.