FEWER than six per cent of Hong Kong's Vietnamese detainees have taken up a US$150 (HK$1,160) cash incentive to be repatriated under a scheme introduced in August as part of a push to clear what was then a Vietnamese population of 24,675. With about 22,500 Vietnamese left, the scheme is scheduled for termination on Saturday and the Government says it will not make any new offers to boost repatriation numbers. Officials admit the 1995 total clearance target will be impossible to meet with present return rates. 'We believe that this initiative contributed to the upturn in the voluntary repatriation programme in recent months, but there are no plans to introduce other incentives,' a government spokesman said. He said 1,439 people had received the allowance. In the months before the scheme was introduced, only about 150 people per month returned voluntarily, compared to 792 this month - the best since January when 2,027 returned. Some people involved in the return programme claim that fresh incentives could send the wrong message to detainees and cause them to believe that there might still be a chance of resettlement in a third country. 'At the moment, things are at a very difficult stage and a new scheme would probably only muddy the waters further,' said one official. The next few months are likely to see a drop in the number of volunteers for repatriation as the Tet Lunar New Year holiday approaches - traditionally not a time when major decisions are made by Vietnamese. The US$150 offer has been in addition to the standard repatriation grant of US$240, which will continue to be paid. It was paid for by Britain out of what the Foreign Office described as a 'special reserve fund' and was introduced at the prompting of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Another delaying factor is that before making any decisions, most Vietnamese are awaiting the outcome of a court challenge seeking a ruling on whether five Vietnamese applicants have been illegally detained in Hong Kong. If the group wins its case and is released, it could pave the way for further action against the Government and massive compensation payouts for detainees. It is understood that the Hong Kong Government is also looking toward preparatory talks expected to be held in February with Hanoi before making any dramatic changes to the existing system. The talks, which will deal with technical issues, will be attended by representatives of the Comprehensive Plan of Action countries and will preface the all-important CPA steering committee meeting likely to take place in Geneva in March. At the Geneva talks the issue of camp clearance will be discussed and new policies will be ratified. The other issue to be addressed will be the resettlement of the few thousand Vietnamese refugees left in the region. About 1,700 remain in Hong Kong and only about 700 of those will be resettled.