Paul Chan apologises for voucher fiasco

The financial secretary, Paul Chan, has apologised for the government’s handling of applications for its consumption vouchers scheme, conceding that it caused problems for many elderly citizens.

Writing on his blog on Sunday, Chan said crowds of senior citizens had flocked to a government office in Mong Kok last week to resubmit documents for the HK$5,000 handout – after their applications were rejected for various reasons such as incorrect or missing information.

“I feel very sorry for what happened… there is definitely room for improvement in terms of the preparation and execution process. We’ve made rectifications by, for example, increasing manpower and extending our service hours on Saturdays,” he wrote.

Chan added that three more service centres would come into operation from Monday to cater for around 10,000 people who need to submit supplementary information before the deadline of September 15th.

Meanwhile the welfare minister, Law Chi-kwong, said on his blog that the government had almost doubled spending on services for elderly people compared to four years ago, as officials prepare for the onset of the “aging tsunami”.

He said the wait for subsidised places at care and nursing homes had fallen – from 25 months to 20 – over the last few years.