The $2.5bn scheme provides Taiwan's population of 22.7 million with one voucher per person - worth at least $107 - regardless of age.

However, not all recipients are pleased. Peng Tsun-chang, 53, a security guard working in Hsintien outside Taipei, said: "The money should be given to people who really need it, people who have lost their jobs. It shouldn't be done like this, with everyone getting something."

Taiwan's unemployment rate hit a four-year high of 4.64 per cent in November largely due to business closures and downsizing.

Several research groups are predicting that the economy could contract by as much as two per cent in 2009, despite stimulus packages that hope to attract tourists.

When the authorities unveiled the voucher scheme in November last year they said the measure was expected to add more than 0.6 percentage points to the GDP growth rate.

Among other moves to prop up the economy, Taiwan's central bank has cut the cost of borrowing six times in the past three months.