《TAIPEI TIMES》Night market deals await voucher users
A person holds enlarged samples of Triple Stimulus Vouchers in front of market-style snacks at a promotional event in Taipei yesterday. Photo: CNA
MULTIPLIER EFFECT: Executive Yuan spokesman Ting Yi-ming told radio host Clara Chou that he expects as many as 17 million people to join the voucher program
By Angelica Oung / Staff reporter
Taiwan’s traditional and night markets are offering some tempting new deals, but only for consumers using their Triple Stimulus Vouchers.
A total of 800 vendors at 140 participating traditional and night markets are taking part in the government’s voucher scheme, aiming to attract people to treat themselves after the program starts on Wednesday next week, the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ （MOEA） Central Region Office said yesterday.
A variety of goodie bags and bargain meals are to be available for NT$200 or NT$500 （US$6.76 or US$16.89） — the value of the paper vouchers — plus a chance to win a NT$2,000 coupon in prize draws for 6,300 winners, the office said.
Typical offerings include pickles, braised meats, jerky, dumplings and other traditional treats, with the market value of every bag exceeding the purchase price, the office said, adding that the promotion would run until Aug. 31.
“Traditional markets and night markets are a way of life for Taiwanese. Now they can get the most out of their Triple Stimulus Vouchers while supporting their local economy,” Hung Kuo-chueh （洪國爵）, head of the office’s fourth section, told a news conference in Taipei.
The ministry’s latest tally showed that more than 10 million people have signed up for the voucher program, with 85 percent of them opting for the physical vouchers, which were mostly bought at convenience stores.
The number of digital claims is well below government expectations. Most digital purchasers linked the vouchers to their credit card, followed by mobile payment platforms such as Line Pay, the ministry said.
Executive Yuan spokesman Ting Yi-ming （丁怡銘） said in a morning interview with radio host Clara Chou （周玉蔻） that he expects as many as 17 million people to join the voucher program.
While business in traditional markets has been dire due to the pandemic, most vendors have found a way to survive, said Tsai Ling-chin （蔡鈴欽）, president of the vendors’ association at Jianguo Market （建國市場） in Taichung.
“With the help of the MOEA, we made improvements to our markets while business was slow,” Tsai said. “We had to tighten our belts to get by, but things are almost back to normal now.”
While some markets, such as Taipei’s Nanmen Market （南門市場） and Monga Night Market （艋舺夜市）, accept digital payment methods like EasyCard, Apple Pay and Line Pay, many traditional markets in Taiwan still only accept physical payments.
“It’s what people are used to and change takes time,” Tsai said.
There are more than 1,000 traditional and night markets across the nation, Central Region Office Director Kuo Kum-ming （郭坤明） said.
The ministry has spent NT$400 million to COVID-proof those markets, including putting up acrylic dividers, improving general sanitation and upgrading drains, Kuo said.
Eyeing the extra purchasing power, many firms have come up with promotions to target voucher-induced business opportunities, while National Central University economics professor Dachran Wu （吳大任） said that the program is aimed to encourage people to spend rather than save.
“We don’t want to give people money they can save. By making people buy vouchers that expire by the end of the year, we’re hoping to put the money into the economy,” Wu said.
However, some thrifty people would inevitably find a way around the government’s intention, he said.
The government is expecting the voucher program to generate a multiplier effect of two-to-three times the size of the stimulus in the actual economy.
“Time will tell, but a one-time stimulus is generally not very effective,” Wu said.