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Staggering cost of ‘free’ vouchers

NSW’s popular Dine Discover voucher program cost a staggering $14 million in administration costs to set up, new figures show.

Treasury revealed how much the $500 million program cost to get up and running, in response to a question on notice from Labor.

Officials said that as of August 31, “the total operational costs and implementation costs of Dine Discover totalled $14,386,592”.

The money is being funded from the total $500 million cost of the program, which has provided residents with six $25 dining and activity vouchers, meaning $485 million is expected to flow through to customers and businesses.

Labor’s spokesperson for customer service Yasmin Catley questioned why the administration cost was so high.

“Why is the Perrottet Government paying itself to run a stimulus program?” Ms Catley said.

“How are they managing to spend almost $15 million on administration costs? Are they personally hand delivering these vouchers?”

Digital and Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello with the NSW Government's Service NSW app showing the Dine amp; Discover vouchers. Source: LinkedIn

Digital and Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello with the NSW Government’s Service NSW app showing the Dine Discover vouchers. Source: LinkedIn

She said $14 million could have funded 500,000 extra vouchers to be used at bars, restaurants and entertainment venues that struggled through the last lockdown.

“That is half a million customer transactions that small businesses won’t receive because the government is busy paying themselves instead,” she said.

The Perrottet Government recently announced people would get an extra two $25 vouchers, on top of the four vouchers they received previously.

Yasmin Catley is questioning the cost of the voucher program. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP

Yasmin Catley is questioning the cost of the voucher program. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP

“The NSW Government’s $250 million expansion of Dine Discover, announced as part of our $2.8 million economic recovery package, will help our local businesses grow and thrive this summer,” Treasurer Matt Kean said.

More than 15,000 businesses and 4.8 million customers have already registered for the program, and almost $276 million vouchers have been used so far.

However, the program has been criticised for the “disproportionate” number of fast food places on the list of top 10 food venues the vouchers have been used for, with concerns the state government had made it too difficult for smaller restaurants to take part.

Earlier this year, news.com.au revealed movie snacks, Hungry Jack’s burgers and fried chicken from KFC were the top choices for residents using the vouchers to pay for food.

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