Taipei, Taiwan – Hundreds of cab drivers are double-dipping into COVID relief funds in violation of the rules, according to the government. Many drivers do qualify for more than one cash handout, because they work part-time as tour providers.

The transport minister said Monday that many were unaware of rules restricting them to just one relief program. The government will seek to recover all extra cash paid out to repeat applicants.

The pandemic has ruined business for cab drivers. Some of them are part-time tour guides, but they’ve lost that source of income as well amid widespread travel bans. It’s this situation that’s given rise to rampant double-dipping and even triple-dipping on relief funds.

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Officials say many drivers have applied for not just the taxi driver subsidy, but also the grant for tour guides.

Taxi driver: “It’s not fair. If you’ve already gotten a handout, then getting another is just not right.”

Taxi driver: “Some people are greedy. They want to get the NT$30,000 handout and the NT$10,000 handout. A lot of people are doing that.”

These applicants tend to be cab drivers who, back when there was business, had offered charter transport on weekends. Now that the tourist flow has dried up, they’re eligible for several relief programs. There’s NT$30,000 for tour guides. Self-employed workers are entitled to NT$30,000. And taxi drivers can get NT$30,000 taxi driver from the Directorate General of Highways.

According to the transport ministry, repeat applicants have received more than NT$5.04 million in relief. Meanwhile, there have been 101 repeat applicants for tour guide handouts totaling NT$330,000. That’s NT$5.37 million distributed to repeat applicants. The government says it will seek to recover the cash.

Taxi driver: “Some people did it because they didn’t know better, but some tried to game the system. It’s different, it depends on the person. Those who need the handout should get it. But you shouldn’t go out and try to get an extra one on top. Those should be left for others who need them.”

Lin Chia-lung Transport minister: “We will not allow anyone to get multiple subsidies. Nobody will get away with it. Why did this situation arise? It’s because we had two bailout plans – between plan 1.0 and 2.0, there was a period where there wasn’t enough information. Some people couldn’t decide on the best handout for them. They didn’t necessarily do this with malicious intent.”

Transport minister Lin Chia-lung said repeat applicants may not have had ill intent. He said that all applications are registered on an interdepartmental database that can be used to identify repeat applicants. He said that no matter the reason for multiple applications, all extra cash will have to be returned.

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– Source: Formosa TV English News

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