“It allows the cash value of the vouchers to circulate in our local economy, and that helps us drive Hong Kong’s economic recovery,” he said, adding another aim of the scheme was to boost the adoption of electronic payment systems.
In 2020, Hong Kong’s economy suffered a 6.1 per cent slump, its largest annual contraction on record, as the pandemic hammered consumption and tourism spending.
But the city’s gross domestic product showed a significant improvement with a surge of 7.9 per cent year on year in the first quarter of 2021. Earlier, Chan estimated the HK$36 billion scheme would help boost the economy by 0.7 per cent.
2. Who is eligible and what can the vouchers be used for?
Any adults who are Hong Kong permanent residents and recent migrants from mainland China will be eligible as long as “they are not out of Hong Kong for the whole of the past two years”, Chan said. Dependents sponsored by a permanent resident of Hong Kong will also benefit.
But exemptions are granted to those studying and having medical treatment outside the city and residents employed by local companies to work overseas, along with their families. Elderly residents living in Guangdong and Fujian under designated welfare schemes are also eligible.
Those in custody are also covered under the policy and they can transfer their benefits to their families. However, expats holding working visas and domestic workers are excluded.
The Immigration Department will help verify whether residents have been in the city in the past two years and a contractor will help conduct random checks.
The vouchers can be used for public transport, at restaurants, in retail stores, consumption service outlets, and locally registered online stores.
But the scheme excludes payments to the government such as tax and tunnel fees, utility bills, financial products and services, tuition fees and expenses at schools and universities, donations and online purchases from non-local businesses.
Jessie Wong Hok-ling, head of the government’s tax policy unit, said the scheme’s e-payment operators would monitor the transactions. If merchants were found to have flouted regulations, officials would not rule out kicking them out of the scheme, while any illegality would be followed up by authorities, she added.
3. How can I register for the voucher?
Online applicants can visit
but will need to prove their identities with HKID cards or the government’s iAM Smart app.
For those who previously received HK$10,000 in a cash payout scheme last year, they can simply respond to some security questions when verifying their identities. Applicants can also submit a form to post offices and designated bank branches.
Octopus card users can redeem the vouchers via the Octopus app or at designated collection points, such as MTR stations and convenience stores, while AlipayHK, Tap & Go or WeChat Pay HK users will receive direct payments into their accounts.
The payout redeemed on Octopus cards can be stretched over eight months across three instalments. The first two vouchers…