Govt to dish out spending vouchers on Thursday

Financial Secretary Paul Chan says the government will distribute the first batch of electronic consumption vouchers – worth HK$5,000 – on Thursday.

Writing on his official blog, he said residents are required to spend the money before the end of October.

Chan said the validity period is longer than the last batch, because he wanted Hong Kong people to have more flexibility.

“We hope that distributing the consumption vouchers at the beginning of April could relieve the financial pressures faced by residents amid the coronavirus outbreak,” he wrote.

“We hope a longer validity period could allow residents to plan their spending more flexibly. We also hope it could boost sales and extend the positive impact that the HK$30 billion scheme will bring to businesses.”

The finance chief announced in his budget that the administration would distribute HK$10,000 worth of electronic consumption vouchers to 6.3 million eligible residents via the electronic payment system that they’d chosen – Octopus, Tap & Go, AlipayHK or WeChat Pay HK.

Chan noted that in view of Omicron outbreak, retail sales had dropped by 14.6 per cent in February while the jobless rate had climbed to 4.5 per cent.

He expected the unemployment rate to continue to rise because the economic situation was serious.

While he hoped the consumption vouchers could provide some relief for residents, Chan said bringing the coronavirus outbreak under control quickly was the most effective way to protect the economy and people’s livelihood.

He said Hong Kong must stick to a dynamic zero-Covid strategy so that it could resume quarantine-free travel with the mainland as soon as possible.