Elderly people need financial relief: Paul Chan

Financial Secretary Paul Chan on Friday said the government decided not to use the $10,000 consumption voucher as an incentive for vaccination, saying most of those who are not jabbed are elderly people who need financial relief.

Chan had on Wednesday announced that all adult Hong Kong residents will be receiving $10,000 worth of electronic spending vouchers, as the government opens public coffers to try to lessen the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Responding to a caller’s question about why the government won’t only give the $10,000 to vaccinated residents on an RTHK phone-in programme, Mr Chan said the government decided to “delink” the handout and vaccination.

“The current vaccination rate across the territory is over 80 percent – about 85 percent – and those who have not been vaccinated are mostly elderly [people],” he said.

“For these elderly [people], perhaps in terms of financial relief, they are the most needy,” he added.

“My experience with the elderly is that if this $10,000 is not going to be paid to them, and if they have not been vaccinated, that will cause tremendous stress for these elderly [people].”

Another caller asked him why the government was handing out the money as an e-voucher instead of cash.

Chan explained that dispensing the funds electronically was faster given that 6.3 million people signed up for the funds electronically last year and it would take longer to ask people for their bank account details.

The finance chief added the e-voucher can be spent on a wide range of goods and services.

“The coverage basically is very wide, including transportation and groceries. So we do think that this would be as good as cash.”