The Hong Kong government introduced the consumer voucher program in hopes of stimulating consumer demand and saving its economy, which has been reeling from the Chinese Communist Party’s zero-Covid policy that Hong Kong has followed.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po announced Phase II of the program on June 13. Hong Kong permanent residents aged 18 or over and non-permanent residents living in Hong Kong for work or study are eligible to receive $10,000 or $5,000 of vouchers, in installments, respectively.
However, people who have permanently left Hong Kong or intend to leave are not eligible for the program. Some commentators say the government singling out this group of people won’t help retain talent, and others think the announcement will create social unrest.
Eligibility criteria include if one left Hong Kong for two years between June 18, 2019 and June 12, 2022 for no particular reason, such as for study or business; if one has made a valid application for early withdrawal of Mandatory Provident Funds (MPF) before the age of 65 because they are permanently leaving Hong Kong; if one holds a Hong Kong permanent identity card issued locally; and whether there is evidence or information that leads the government to believe that the person concerned has no intention of returning to Hong Kong in the foreseeable future. Eligibility assessments are made based on information collected in the past.
Paul Chan Mo-po, the financial secretary, said he received questions about why people who have already emigrated can still receive vouchers and therefore decided to exclude emigrants or those who intend to leave definitely Hong Kong from the program.
Democratic spokesperson: Government targets people who want to leave Hong Kong
Democratic Party spokesman Poming Chan said “the government is targeting people who want to leave Hong Kong, but that won’t help retain talent.”
The Democratic Party’s Facebook page quoted Poming Chan as suggesting that the government should try to entice people who are currently in Hong Kong to stay, and should think more about how to entice those who have already left to return. .
According to a recent survey conducted by the organizer of the International Immigration and Property Expo, 79% of Hong Kongers surveyed plan to emigrate within two years and 19% intend to leave Hong Kong within six months, with the majority being middle class and wealthy. families.
The survey also revealed that 66% of respondents had assets over HK$8 million (approximately $1.02 million), with 17% exceeding HK$50 million (approximately 6.02 million). $37 million). As for those with a monthly household income above HK$150,000 (about $20,000). Of all those considering emigrating, 30% belong to the high-income group with a monthly household income above HK$150,000 (about $20,000), suggesting that well-to-do families are more likely to migrate. consider emigration.
Wai-Kwok Benson Wong, a former assistant professor of government and international studies at Hong Kong Baptist University, told The Epoch Times that the government issues vouchers because it is its responsibility to stimulate demand in times of crisis. economic difficulties.
“As a Hong Kong resident overseas, he is still a Hong Kong citizen and can return home. The government has no reason to exclude those who do not live in Hong Kong from the right to have vouchers. »
He said the government’s action is irrational. One would only speculate on people’s thoughts and even introduce “ridiculous policies or measures” if one sees them as enemies or people against oneself.
Academic: The government stirs up social tensions to create division
The Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) is a mandatory retirement savings scheme for Hong Kongers. In order to withdraw from an MPF before age 65, certain circumstances must be met, including early retirement, permanent departure from Hong Kong, total incapacity, terminal illness, small balance, and the death. After the UK government provided Hong Kong BNO holders with access to the UK for settlement and naturalisation, the MPFA announced in March last year that BNO visas could not be used as proof permanent departure from Hong Kong or early withdrawal from the MPF.
Academic and “Summit” host Jacky Fung asks “So those who are labeled by the government as intending to permanently leave Hong Kong can get their MPF back?” He believes Hong Kongers abroad can obtain government-verified proof of “permanent departure from Hong Kong” and thus be able to recover their MPF deposits.
In an interview with The Epoch Times’ “Precious Dialogues” program, Dr. Kim-wah Chung, a former assistant professor in the Department of Applied Social Sciences at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said the government’s decision not to issuing vouchers to those who have left Hong Kong Hong Kong and yet issuing vouchers to those who come and “intend to stay in Hong Kong” causes social division and conflict.
He added that the government’s action is contradictory, as it does nothing to entice Hong Kong emigrants to return, but rather creates divisions. “I think it’s absurd.”