Ilocos Norte adopts ‘voucher scheme’ to stimulate local economy

GIFT CARDS. The province of Ilocos Norte is using gift cards to benefit business owners and consumers who are both affected by the global novel coronavirus pandemic. Among the first batch of recipients given with gift cards amounting to PHP1,000 each are persons with disabilities. (PNA photo by Leilanie G. Adriano)

LAOAG CITY – The province of Ilocos Norte is experimenting with the use of a “voucher scheme” to stimulate the local economy and cushion the effect of the global pandemic.

The scheme dubbed as, “Shop-IN” gift cards is a personalized shopping voucher worth PHP200 each. These vouchers are being administered and distributed by the provincial government through the Ilocos Norte Trade and Investment Promotion Center (INvest) office to target beneficiaries to be used with affiliate stores in the province, which are hardly affected by a series of lockdowns due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

To date, a total of 2,000 persons with disabilities (PWDs) in various parts of Ilocos Norte are the latest recipients of the shopping gift cards. Each beneficiary is entitled to receive gift cards amounting to PHP1,000.

These can be redeemed in affiliate stores, and are only valid for non-essential products such as, but not limited to retail and apparel, home appliances and accessories, electronics and gadgets, and lifestyle services and entertainment.

According to Soya Cheng-Bueno, head of Invest, the gift card distribution is part of the Re-imagine to Stimulate Economy (RISE) program of INvest Office which focuses on the economic recovery of the province, particularly in helping local businesses as well as consumers.

“We know that the business sector is the backbone of economy. This voucher scheme project was adopted from the best practices of countries like United Kingdom, China, Japan, Thailand, and the USA as an economic stimulus package,” she said in an interview Monday, citing that in the Philippines, the province is one of the first to adopt this scheme to stir the local economy.

In a separate interview, Judith Crisostomo, mother of one of the PWD recipients, lauded the project.

“We are thankful because we are the first batch of beneficiaries of this program. Thank you for thinking of the welfare of PWDs, especially in this time of pandemic,” she said.

It was learned the project was conceptualized in October last year after Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc met with business owners here.

The Provincial Social Welfare Office identified the first batch of beneficiaries. (PNA)

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