A poll by Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy party has suggested that more respondents preferred cash to electronic spending vouchers as the city’s fifth-wave Covid-19 outbreak continues to unfold.

Central - work -employee - office
File photo: GovHK.

The Democratic Party interviewed 632 citizens between March 2 and Monday and released the results of the opinion survey on Thursday.

The poll showed that over 80 per cent of respondents said the HK$10,000 consumer voucher scheme proposed in the 2022 Budget Address “should be distributed in cash.”

Earlier in February, the party conducted a similar survey and 70 per cent who answered preferred cash instead of coupons.

Ramon Yuen, the party’s spokesman on medical policies, said many citizens and elderly people do not understand how to shop online and giving them spending vouchers “will in return encourage them to go out and make purchases,” which “goes in the opposite direction” of the government’s social distancing measures.

democratic party cash handout
The Democratic Party previously urged the government to issue HK$15,000 in cash handouts as many struggle financially amid the city’s worst Covid-19 outbreak. File photo: The Democratic Party/Facebook

In addition, 72 per cent of respondents said the budget’s support for businesses affected by the pandemic was “inadequate.”

According to the latest statistics updated by the Census and Statistics Department on Thursday, the overall unemployment rate in Hong Kong has risen to 4.5 per cent between December and February from 3.9 per cent between November and January.

Covid-19 social distancing measures have affected some sectors more than others. The unemployment rate of workers in the food and beverage sector surged by 1.9 percentage points to 8.1 per cent, while 8.2 per cent of those in the entertainment and recreation sector also lost their jobs – a sharp increase of 2.9 percentage points.

Frankie Ngan, a lawmaker representing the pro-Beijing DAB party, urged the government to speed up the launch of its unemployment relief scheme to “stabilise people’s hearts.”

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