Personalising against poverty
The Personalised Vehicle Registration Marks Scheme was proposed by Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen as a means to generate revenue in his 2004-05 budget in March 2004.
It was estimated the scheme would bring in about HK$70 million every year and the government said the first five years of its net proceeds would be allocated to poverty alleviation.
The Legislative Council in December amended the Road Traffic Ordinance and the Road Traffic (Registration and Licensing of Vehicles) Regulation to implement the scheme.
The scheme allows for a combination of up to eight letters other than I, O and Q, numbers and spaces as long as it is not indecent, in bad taste, confusing for law enforcement or detrimental to road safety.
The first-round of applications for the scheme started on April 1. More than 1,500 applications were received by the Transport Department before the round closed on May 2. One thousand applications were chosen by ballot.
The scheme will not affect current auctions of number plates. Under that system, introduced in 1973, two types of plate numbers are auctioned regularly.
The government will, one year after implementing the new scheme, review the revenue impact of the new scheme on the older system. Some HK$21.53 million was collected from auctions from January to April this year.
Proceeds from the auctions are channelled into the Lotteries Fund for charitable purposes.