HK to offer more drop-in boxes for cash handout scheme in response to complaints over complicated application process

31-Jan-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

To make it easier to apply for and collect a government cash handout, Hong Kong authorities are offering more drop-in boxes for the scheme, following a public outcry over the procedure being too complicated.

The city’s Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau announced on Tuesday evening that the government would provide extra boxes at about 200 Housing Authority estate offices and 14 Home Affairs Department inquiry centres from Friday, when the scheme starts receiving applications for a cash handout of up to HK$4,000 (US$510).

Only 31 drop-in boxes were announced earlier.

The number of inquiry hotlines for the scheme has also been increased to 60. Officials are looking into providing additional locations for successful applicants with no local bank accounts to collect their cash cheques.

This is the second time the government has moved to improve the procedure following last Wednesday’s announcement that it would simplify the application process.

Measures so far include offering an additional one million Chinese application forms, waiving the requirement for applicants to provide proof of address, and processing applications mailed with insufficient postage.

Under the Caring and Sharing Scheme, Hong Kong residents aged 18 and above will get up to HK$4,000 if they do not own property or benefit from government allowances. Those who enjoy tax breaks will get the difference between HK$4,000 and the concessionary amount.

The application process was plagued by problems and complaints, with critics saying the paperwork was too complicated and too few forms had been distributed.

On Sunday, finance minister Paul Chan Mo-po apologised repeatedly for the chaos surrounding the new scheme during a Facebook Live session to gather public views for his upcoming budget.

“We really deserve all the criticism,” he said.

About 2.8 million Hongkongers are expected to benefit from the scheme, which will cost the government HK$330 million to run. Applications will be open between February 1 and April 30.

The cash handout of up to HK$4,000 was not part of the government’s budget plan from last February. The administration announced the scheme in March after facing immense pressure to share its wealth with residents.


Category: Hong Kong

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