ACT Business Minister Tara Cheyne admits the ACT government will be unable to identify improper use of the ChooseCBR voucher scheme despite business owners raising concerns.
The scheme is set to be scrutinised further this week, with the Canberra Liberals calling on the auditor-general to launch a comprehensive review. Ms Cheyne welcomed calls for an independent review, but a process is yet to be put in place.
The vouchers were being used at more than $1100 per minute and more than $70,000 per hour on Friday when the scheme was relaunched after being plagued by technical issues. Individuals were limited to using $80 worth of vouchers per day.
More than $1.6 million worth of vouchers were used in a 24-hour period, equating to a $3.2 million injection into the ACT economy.
Ms Cheyne hailed the economic activity, but Chief Minister Andrew Barr played it down as a "small boost" earlier this week.
The government is refusing to publish exact details of the scheme, saying it cannot name businesses because of "commercial in confidence", despite revealing some statistical data.
Some business owners and customers have said there was improper use of the scheme, alleging people were able to get access multiple vouchers. The scheme was not limited to ACT residents.
People had to sign up to the scheme with an email address and a unique mobile phone number.
"It may have been possible that people had multiple phone numbers - we don't have a way of verifying that," Ms Cheyne said on ABC Canberra on Tuesday.
"... This was a one-off scheme. We will, absolutely, as part of the review look into this stimulus impact and determine if something like this would be appropriate if we were to experience an economic downturn again."
Ms Cheyne claimed reports of misuse at Chemist Warehouse were misleading.
Ms Cheyne has refused multiple interview requests until Tuesday, despite the scheme relaunching at a rapid rate on Friday and exhausting the $2 million allocation by Saturday morning.
Following reports franchises benefited over small businesses, the ACT Liberals have called for the auditor-general to undertake a comprehensive review of the voucher scheme.
Ms Cheyne said no one could direct the auditor-general as to what to enquire into, however, the ACT government would conduct an internal review of the vouchers.
"That will include an independent and comprehensive review of the program's design and it's implementation," Ms Cheyne said.
"I'm very much open to that scrutiny."
With initial reporting revealing just 19 businesses redeemed more than 500 vouchers, Ms Cheyne said their names would not be made public.
According to the report, the business that had the most redemptions was in Gungahlin, where 3.3 per cent of all vouchers were claimed.
The highest portion of vouchers (37.1 per cent) were redeemed at food retailers, followed by cafes and restaurants (25.9 per cent) and then recreational stores (7.6 per cent).
Pharmacies and cosmetic stores made up 6.2 per cent of all redemptions.
Ms Cheyne said: "We had an enormous take up from businesses right across the community. I've had businesses in Kambah and Evatt say they had their best days in trade.
"What we saw in the 25 hours when we relaunched the scheme on Friday was an incredible lesson in behavioural economics," Ms Cheyne said.
"Unashamedly, we did want to be creating demand here. We didn't want money to be sitting there unspent, but demand was begetting demand."
Mr Barr said: "Some context on this, retail trade in the ACT in the month of April was about $575 million spent across retailers in the ACT. And that equates to just under $20 million a day, which is normally spent in the ACT so to have generated around four and a half million dollars of extra activity is a small addition to a normal retail spending the ACT but entirely in line with what you would anticipate for the scale of that program."
"... So it was a small boost about one and a half per cent of what you'd expect in a month on retail trade turnover. So important, timely, but in the grand scheme of things it is a small addition to total retail spending."
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