August 1 to bring first chunk of HK$5,000 vouchers

The government announced on Friday that the first of its planned vouchers for all adult residents will be dished out from August 1, as part of its efforts to boost local spending.

While people can get up to HK$5,000, the money will come in instalments spread over a few months.

Octopus Card users will first receive HK$2,000, another HK$2,000 two months later, and then HK$1,000 several weeks after that. The vouchers can be collected by using Octopus Card readers at MTR stations or in shops, or via the card’s app.

People who receive the vouchers via their AlipayHK, Tap & Go or WeChat Pay HK digital wallets will first get HK$2,000 and then HK$3,000 two months later.

Registration for the vouchers will open on July 4 and as well as paper forms available from the Post Office and some government offices, people can sign up online or via the government’s iAM Smart app.

Those using paper registration forms will not get their first voucher until September 1, with those who register electronically after July 17 also facing an extra month’s wait to get the money.

Only adult permanent SAR residents and new arrivals in Hong Kong will be eligible for the vouchers and applicants will have to make a declaration that they are currently living in the territory.

As for spending the vouchers, this can be done at local retail, catering and service outlets, as well as their online platforms. They can also be used for public transport. But the money can’t go on government or public utility payments, study fees, financial products or donations.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan said Octopus Card users must spend the first HK$4,000 within seven months to get the final HK$1,000 payment.

But he said that’s “not a lot of money” to spend, and chances are remote that people couldn’t get through it.

“During this period, there’s Christmas and then Chinese New Year. These are the festive seasons that people tend to spend. Also, we will have an SMS alert service, to those who may not be able to spend the entire four thousand within the seven month period, to remind them to use the money.”

Chan announced the scheme in his budget speech in February. Critics have suggested that cash handouts would have been much easier, especially for poorer residents.