About 6.3 million Hong Kong residents will receive the first HK$5,000 instalment of the HK$10,000 consumption vouchers in April, the city’s finance chief announced on Monday. The handouts will be made to those who successfully registered for last year’s consumption voucher scheme via the same payment accounts.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan announced the details of the first phase of this year’s consumption voucher scheme during an online press conference on Monday morning. Chan did not say when the first instalment would appear in people’s accounts, only that it would expire on October 31.

Photo: GovHK Screenshot.

The same electronic wallets – Octopus, AlipayHK, Tap & Go and WeChat Pay HK – will be used as before, and citizens will not be given the opportunity to change their payment account platform. According to Chan, this would speed up the distribution process. “With the current serious Covid-19 situation, [we] don’t want to bother everyone,” he said. “Basically, if you haven’t lost your Octopus Card, there is no need for you to do anything to receive [the coupons].”

The estimated 60,000 people with defunct accounts will have to update their registration with their new account details on or before March 25. However, the platforms cannot be changed.

Only Octopus card users can directly update their records online. Those who lost their accounts with other payment service providers are required to fill in a form and post it to the Consumption Voucher Scheme Secretariat with a copy of their HKID card.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan speaking about the consumption voucher scheme on March 7. Photo: Video screenshot, via RTHK.

While AlipayHK, Tap & Go and WeChat Pay HK users will get their first instalment of HK$5,000 at once, Octopus users will only get HK$4,000 in April. The remaining HK$1,000 will be disbursed only after the initial instalment of HK$4,000 has been spent, on the 16th of the following month. June 16 will be the earliest date it will be paid, while November 16 will be the latest.

All users will have to spend the vouchers on or before October 31 or they will expire.

The official website for the spending voucher scheme states that the coupons were not allowed to be used on a list of items including tax, water, electricity and gas payments, as well as donations.

When Chan announced the HK$10,000 consumer voucher scheme in the latest budget address, some lawmakers suggested a cash handout instead as electronic vouchers “are limited for use in retail or catering sectors.” Concern groups for underprivileged citizens said the coupons could not be used to pay for rent, the largest difficulty faced by low-income people.

Second phase

Only those who registered for last year’s consumption voucher scheme will be included in the first phase of handouts this year. Newly eligible citizens can only register to receive their consumption vouchers in the the second phase of the scheme, when those who received the first batch of vouchers will receive the second instalment.

The government has not announced the details of the second phase, but said all registrants will be allowed to reselect their electronic voucher accounts.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.