Hongkongers are set to receive another round of consumption vouchers totalling HK$5,000, Finance Secretary Paul Chan has announced.
All permanent residents – as well as new arrivals to the city – will be eligible, according to Chan, who delivered the 2023 budget at the legislature on Wednesday morning.
The first instalment of HK$3,000 will be distributed to electronic wallets registered by residents in April. The remainder will be handed out towards the middle of the year.
Last year’s consumption vouchers were given to non-permanent residents for the first time. However, migrant domestic workers were not eligible, a move that rights advocates called “heartless.”
When asked why the amount to be handed out during the upcoming fiscal year was lower than last year during a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Chan said, “HK$5,000 is the best we can do.
Hong Kong was still in the initial stages of post-pandemic recovery, he said, adding that the economy was still “fragile.”
Answering another question in Cantonese, Chan said that he had to balance “reinforcing” the city’s economic revival with consumption vouchers and taking its fiscal burden into account. The government had to “spend appropriately,” he said, as it had suffered a more than HK$100 billion deficit.
The government has provided voucher handouts every year since 2020 in a bid to ease economic woes brought on by Covid-19. In 2020, Hong Kong residents received HK$10,000 in the form of a transfer to their bank accounts. Over the past two years, authorities distributed HK$5,000 and HK$10,000, respectively, to online payment accounts in an effort to encourage spending at local businesses.
Last month, pro-Beijing parties such as the DAB and Federation of Trade Unions called for another round of consumption vouchers to boost the ailing economy, in addition to the Democratic Party. However, Regina Ip of the pro-Beijing New People’s Party said last month that she did not think the city should repeat the scheme as “government resources are limited.”
Last year, the government shrugged off suggestions from the public that the handouts should be delivered in the form of cash rather than consumption vouchers so that residents – particularly those with low incomes – could use them for expenses such as rent and bills.
Additional reporting: Peter Lee
The 2023 Budget in full:
- Hong Kong unveils HK$761 billion budget in bid to boost post-Covid recovery
- HK$5,000 consumption vouchers for all eligible residents
- Tax cuts scaled back, transport subsidy extended, other relief measures
- Jockey Club to pay HK$12 billion football betting tax over 5 years to increase gov’t income
- Cigarette packs rise by HK$12 in bid to disincentivise smoking
- Police equipment budget rises 59%, despite spending just 8.5% of 2022 allocation
- City expects to see HK$140 billion deficit, but ‘visible rebound’ in economy expected
- Gov’t to spend HK$50m on promotional work as city outlines new local ‘happy’ campaign
- Mixed reviews as critics slam gov’t for overlooking the poor
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