Taiwan to give cash payouts to citizens in ‘New Year blessing’

TAIPEI — Taiwan plans to give cash payouts of nearly $200 to every citizen this year, Premier Su Tseng-chang announced on Wednesday, saying the island’s economic growth will be shared by everyone.

The export-reliant economy, a global tech powerhouse for products including semiconductor chips, grew 6.45% in 2021, the fastest rate since it expanded 10.25% in 2010.

While economic growth is expected to slow in 2022 and 2023, the government has made plans to plough an extra T$380 billion ($12.4 billion) in tax revenue from last year back into the economy to help protect the island from global economic shocks, including subsidies for electricity prices and labor and health insurance.

Mr. Su said a total of T$140 billion, part of the tax revenue, would be spent as cash payouts and each citizen would get T$6,000 ($195.61).

“The fruit of economic achievements will be shared by all citizens, from young to old,” Mr. Su told reporters, adding the potential payout requires approval from parliament, where the ruling Democratic Progressive Party has a majority.

“We wish to give all citizens a New Year blessing after the beginning of the Lunar New Year,” Mr. Su told reporters, referring to the week-long holiday that starts on Jan. 20.

He did not give details of how the government would deliver the payouts.

Taiwan is a major producer of semiconductors used in everything from cars and smartphones to fighter jets. Its economy continued to grow stably during the COVID-19 pandemic in recent years helped by strong chip demand for consumer electronics as more people worked from home.

Taiwan’s central bank in December cut its 2022 estimate for gross domestic product (GDP) growth to 2.91% from its previous forecast of 3.51% in September.

For 2023, it projected GDP would grow 2.53%. The economy grew 4.01% in the third quarter from a year earlier. — Reuters