Hong Kong to give cash handouts to low-income residents Hong Kong to give cash handouts to low-income residents

Hong Kong to give cash handouts to low-income residents
06 Apr 2018

Local media are reporting that the Hong Kong government may give cash handouts to low-income residents.

With its annual budget under fire for not including the benefit despite a predicted HK$138 billion (US$17.6 billion) surplus, the government is said to be considering using its Community Care Fund to give pay-outs to adults earning below HK$15,500 (US$1,975) per month, which is the median wage.

According to the Hong Kong Free PressChief Executive Carrie Lam agreed that the government’s public finance situation was very healthy and recorded a large surplus last year.

"But we have to admit that, when we developed measures to share with the public, maybe we have not been very comprehensive," she said. "We have been designing a more wide-ranging sharing scheme. But this is not equal to a city-wide cash handout.”

Lam added that the Financial Secretary had indicated he had reservations about cash handouts that did not have specific targets, a statement which she supported “publicly."

While no official details have been released, Sing Tao Daily cited a source as saying that people who receive Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, Low-income Working Family Allowance or Old Age Allowance would not receive any handouts as the annual budget already allocates them extra benefits.

But despite the proposed handouts, Democratic Party lawmaker James To said the plan was still unfair when compared to the HK$30,000 (US$3,822) tax rebate that a person earning HK$50,000 (US$6,371) per month could receive.

"There should not be such a big difference," he said. "Residents will still be angry."

New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip suggested that cash handouts should also be given to citizens who do not have to pay income tax or who receive fewer than HK$30,000 (US$3,822) in tax rebates.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

Local media are reporting that the Hong Kong government may give cash handouts to low-income residents.

With its annual budget under fire for not including the benefit despite a predicted HK$138 billion (US$17.6 billion) surplus, the government is said to be considering using its Community Care Fund to give pay-outs to adults earning below HK$15,500 (US$1,975) per month, which is the median wage.

According to the Hong Kong Free PressChief Executive Carrie Lam agreed that the government’s public finance situation was very healthy and recorded a large surplus last year.

"But we have to admit that, when we developed measures to share with the public, maybe we have not been very comprehensive," she said. "We have been designing a more wide-ranging sharing scheme. But this is not equal to a city-wide cash handout.”

Lam added that the Financial Secretary had indicated he had reservations about cash handouts that did not have specific targets, a statement which she supported “publicly."

While no official details have been released, Sing Tao Daily cited a source as saying that people who receive Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, Low-income Working Family Allowance or Old Age Allowance would not receive any handouts as the annual budget already allocates them extra benefits.

But despite the proposed handouts, Democratic Party lawmaker James To said the plan was still unfair when compared to the HK$30,000 (US$3,822) tax rebate that a person earning HK$50,000 (US$6,371) per month could receive.

"There should not be such a big difference," he said. "Residents will still be angry."

New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip suggested that cash handouts should also be given to citizens who do not have to pay income tax or who receive fewer than HK$30,000 (US$3,822) in tax rebates.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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