Taipei, Few long waits were reported on the first day people could buy government-issued “stimulus vouchers” at the post office Wednesday, as the expected crowds did not materialize.
While some people lined up as early as 5 a.m. at the Taipei Beimen Post Office, only 50 people were waiting there as of 8:30 a.m., according to state owned Chunghwa Post Co.
Postal officials said there are 4 million vouchers in stock at its 1,299 branches across Taiwan, and 600,000 vouchers could be delivered on Wednesday. As of noon, 347,728 vouchers had been purchased at post offices.
Beimen office deputy head Tseng Li-miao (曾麗妙) said, however, that more people may be seen at other times of the day.
“The peak could come around noon and before getting off work, and people might want to avoid those time periods,” Tseng said.
Under the NT$50 billion (US$1.69 billion) program, people must spend NT$1,000 to buy NT$3,000 in vouchers, which can be used to buy a wide range of goods and services until the end of the year but come with several restrictions.
The vouchers, which can be used starting Wednesday, are being issued to get consumers to spend to make up for weakened consumption in the first five months of the year due to COVID-19 worries.
Foreign residents of Taiwan, including hundreds of thousands of migrant workers from Southeast Asia, are not eligible to receive the vouchers unless they have a Taiwanese spouse, and the government has provided no clear explanation why foreign residents have been left out.
Many people eligible to get the vouchers have pre-ordered them online for collection at convenience stores. But the post office is being used to distribute vouchers to people who want to buy them on the spot.
People who want to buy their vouchers through the post office can go to https://3000.gov.tw/hpgmap/ to check the availability of vouchers at post offices near them, Tseng said.
A man surnamed Chung (鍾), who lined up at Beimen at 5:30 a.m., said he felt more secure picking up the vouchers early at the post office.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” said the 63-year-old.
A woman surnamed Chao (趙), who uses a wheelchair, said the Beimen office’s accessible facilities are quite good, and it took her less than five minutes to get the vouchers.
She said she felt “at ease and secure” to get the vouchers in print, and would use the money to buy knee pads and other health care products.
Though the first day seemed to be going smoothly, Deputy Transportation and Communications Minister Chi Wen-jong (祁文中) said it would still be a challenge for the post office to get the job done.
There are 23.74 million people eligible to get the vouchers, Chi said, and 10.35 million have pre-ordered printed versions of the vouchers while 1.57 million have opted to tie the NT$2,000 benefit to their credit cards, e-wallets, or stored value cards online.
Some 11.82 million people have yet to choose which method they will use, Chi said, and he expected most of them to get their vouchers at the post office.
Traffic seemed smooth in convenience stores on the first day people could pick up the 10.35 million vouchers that were pre-ordered.
As of 11 a.m., about 120,000 people had picked up their vouchers.
A convenience store worker in New Taipei said there were no lines for the vouchers Wednesday morning.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel