The value of Hong Kong’s spending voucher scheme should be doubled to HK$10,000 and expanded to children to better stimulate the economy and help low-income families, the Democratic Party has urged.
Expanding and extending the government online payment scheme would relieve financial stress on parents ahead of the upcoming school year, the party said on Monday.
“Many citizens have reported to the Democratic Party that the voucher amount is too small and is spread out over too many instalments,” it said in a statement. “The economy is sluggish, and many low-income people use consumer vouchers to buy food and transport to reduce their financial burden.”
“The actual effectiveness of these coupons, are they really having a long-term effect, or is it just very short-term?” said the party’s spokesperson for business and economic policy Chan Po-ming. The first instalment of HK$2,000 may last just a few weeks before being used up, Chan said.
The spending voucher scheme, which began paying out in instalments on August 1, is currently only available to Hong Kong permanent adult residents and sponsored migrants from China. The scheme will pay out a total ofHK$5,000 before the end of the year – in two to three instalments, depending on the date of registration and the method of receipt.
Chan said any additional vouchers could be implemented concurrently or at the end of the current period.
More help for children and elderly
The party’s deputy spokesperson for youth policy also urged the government to provide aid to low-income parents to meet school expenses before the start of the new academic year in September.
“The HK$5,000 coupon is not enough for parents and their children,” Douglas Tsang said. The party said the cost of textbooks and uniforms can exceed HK$4,000.
The Democratic Party also urged the government to offer the alternative of cash handouts for those elderly people who have problems handling online payment systems.
The elderly “should not lose their rights to spending vouchers because they are not good at technology,” said the deputy spokesperson for welfare policy So Yat-hang.
The spending voucher scheme was introduced to boost the city’s economy, which was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. The unemployment rate eased slightly last month after reaching a 16-year-high at the beginning of this year.