Financial Secretary Paul Chan has again apologised for the bungled roll out of the consumption voucher scheme which forced elderly citizens to queue up in the heat for hours to re-submit their manual applications last week.
“We saw many elderly people who … had to wait for a while because of the sudden surge in people flow. I am very sorry,” the secretary said during an event at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Tuesday.
Many elderly citizens queued outside government offices in Mong Kok to resubmit their forms last week, after they failed to provide certain information or filled in the form incorrectly.
Chan admitted that the government’s arrangements for physical registration were “inconsiderate.” He added that the authorities “immediately” responded to the debacle by increasing manpower at the office and opening three additional service centres in Tuen Mun, Tai Po and Central on Monday.
“We hope these centres will allow citizens to register conveniently, ” Chan said, He also called on citizens who have not yet registered for the scheme to do so at the centres.
Around 5,000 people had re-registered in the past week, Chan wrote on his blog on Sunday.
The government’s HK$5,000 spending voucher scheme was introduced in July to bolster the economy. Coupons are being paid out in phases and instalments on electronic payment platforms such as the Octopus system.
The deadline for paper re-registrations has been extended by two weeks until September 15, to accommodate people who had improperly filled out the forms or failed to provide necessary information.
As of last Wednesday, 6.3 million people had received their first voucher payment.
The scheme has drawn some criticism for failing to properly address the needs of the city’s most vulnerable. Members of the city’s flagging political opposition have called on the government to double the voucher value to HK$10,000 and to arrange for cash handouts to the elderly who have trouble accessing electronic payment systems.
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