Page last updated at 17:01 GMT, Sunday, 18 January 2009

Taiwan urged to run to the tills

Taiwanese shopper hands vouchers to assistant
Critics have labelled the move a waste of money

Taiwan has been handing out shopping vouchers to all its citizens in a bid to stimulate the island's economy and shrug off the global downturn.

Some 22.7 million people, regardless of age, are eligible for vouchers worth $107 to spend on a wide range of goods.

People queued at distribution points around the country to get their vouchers on Sunday.

The initiative, set to cost the government $2.53bn, is based on a similar scheme in Japan in 1999.

Taiwan is suffering in the global downturn, hit by plunging exports and rising unemployment.

Supporters say the scheme will give the island's ailing economy a shot in the arm. Vouchers must be spent by the end of September.

But critics have labelled the move a waste of money and point out that the government is having to borrow money to finance it.

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