Saturday, 24 March 2018

HK$4K Windfall for Whom?

Financial Secretary Paul Chan has yet to clarify how people can get the cash
Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po has finally bowed to public pressure and will now be handing out HK$4,000 to 2.8 million people. The ones receiving this cash handout are those who did not benefit from tax rebates and increased allowances in the budget that was announced late last month.

It will be given to those who are permanent residents aged 18 years and above as of December 31 this year, who do not own property, do not receive any government allowances and will not pay income tax for the financial year ending March 31.

How about a more long-term approach to helping the poor?
However, it's not clear how people can get this money and how are they eligible. Lawmakers are criticizing Chan for not being clear on if people need to apply for this money, or government databases will have them on the list and they just have to wait for the handout.

Ng Wai-tung, a community organizer for the Society for Community Organization said, "The handout does not embody any new fiscal philosophy, but is a one-off measure to cope with the mounting pressure from the political parties."

He believes the scheme will benefit housewives, low-income employees and N-nothing people -- those who earn too much to qualify for subsidized housing or welfare assistance, but not enough to buy their own homes or benefit from tax breaks.

"If the government is devoted to using the fiscal surpluses wisely, why don't they come up with some long-term policies to support these people," Ng said.

What about helping those who think they can't afford a flat?
We have talked about this many times before -- how short-sighted the government is when it comes to long-term initiatives to help give a leg-up to those who are financially challenged, ranging from those who live on less than HK$100 a day to the N-nothing people.

Is the government so blind not to see the reality these people are going through? There are children going hungry daily, while many young people have given up any hope of buying a home here.

Surely the government has given more than enough assistance to the tycoons of this city? It's urgent to address those who are falling through the cracks. Yes, HK$4,000 would help these people immensely from paying off debts to saving a bit for a rainy day. But as many critics have said, this is a pathetic band-aid measure. More needs to be done. Now.

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