‘Impractical to contact elderly about voucher scheme’

An official says the government has done all it can to make sure people can get their electronic cash vouchers, and it simply isn’t feasible to contact every elderly person in the city to remind them to register.

Jessie Wong from the Financial Secretary’s Office told an RTHK programme on Thursday that the government received a total of 6.9 million registrations for the first round of e-coupons, and 6.3 million people had got their first HK$2,000.

As for the failed registrations, Wong said some involved duplicated forms, and others were problematic, with mistakes such as a missing signature, or missing ID card copy.

Wong was speaking a day after angry elderly citizens who realised they didn’t get any money swamped a Mong Kok office set up to handle e-coupon registrations.

DAB lawmakers Elizabeth Quat suggested that the government phone up elderly people to make sure they register on time with the right information, but Wong said this would not be practical.

Wong noted the government had sent out text messages at different stages, and had asked elderly homes and community groups to help explain the scheme. She added that people can also call a hotline to check their status.

“We are talking about several million registrations. It’s difficult to follow up several million text messages with phone calls and it will take a long time…. And we didn’t ask people to provide their age. We don’t know how old they are, we only have their ID card number. And it involves a large number of people. We cannot call them up. We can only use other means of publicity,” she said.

Wong added the office handling the matter will open until September 15 for people who missed previous deadlines to submit written forms.