HK$6,000 handouts for newcomers pass
The Legislative Council approved HK$1.5 billion in cash handouts for newcomers from the mainland yesterday despite criticism they will be means-tested, a procedure some lawmakers argued would only screen out a small number of people.
The maximum allowable monthly income for the HK$6,000 handout ranges from HK$7,300 for a single person to HK$24,500 for a four-person family.
'Fewer than 20,000 people will be screened out,' Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah said, and asked why the test was needed at all.
Tong quoted official estimates that 233,900 out of 271,000 non-permanent residents would apply to the Community Care Fund, through which the handouts are to be distributed. Of the 37,100 not expected to apply, some, including entrants under the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme and Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, were already excluded.
'How much money is involved there? ... This scheme is so unjust ... How can you sleep well at night?' Tong asked Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing.
Unionist lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan asked why the newcomers had to be assessed at all when Hong Kong permanent residents were not.
'This is not an equal-for-all policy. It's discriminatory,' he said
Addressing the council's finance committee, Tsang said the payments to newcomers should be viewed separately from those for permanent residents, as they were for families in need. '[The way we handle] new arrivals is not discriminatory; it's inclusive,' he said.
The maximum monthly amount in Hong Kong dollars that a two-person household can earn to qualify for the handout under the means test