There were always doubts about the wisdom of a 10 per cent tax rebate which will, inevitably, disproportionately benefit the rich. As was said in this column immediately after the Budget, it is far from clear 'whether this is the most socially equitable means of stimulating the economy since the non-tax-paying half of the population will receive nothing'. From that perspective, the proposal by unionist legislators to cap the rebate at $100,000 is superficially attractive. After all, the individuals affected earn more than $15 million a year and it does seem questionable whether a relatively small number of companies should receive such huge windfalls. The money involved could certainly be used for more deserving purposes. The problem is that it won't be. While legislators can cap the rebate, providing they marshal enough votes, it is almost impossible for them to force the Government to spend the money elsewhere. Instead, the proceeds would simply swell the size of the Treasury's coffers. While that would slightly reduce the size of this year's deficit, it is hardly the most productive use of resources. The idea behind the rebate was never to promote equality. It was designed to put money back into the economy in the fastest way, in the hope this would lead to higher spending and other positive effects, so increasing the chances of an early recovery. Capping the rebate will reduce its benefit to Hong Kong's highest spenders and so defeat this purpose. It also causes difficulties for the few companies who have used their rebate to try to stimulate the economy, such as CLP Power's $50 discount for its consumers. Nor it is clear why the maximum size of the rebate should be arbitrarily set at $100,000. After all, if the purpose is to be more socially equitable, then it would have to be set at a much lower level. Nevertheless, some good may come of this proposal. By putting companies and wealthy individuals on the defensive over the huge size of their rebates, it may prompt more to follow CLP Power's lead. If those who have benefited most from the Government's generosity want to hang on to their windfalls, perhaps they will now have to show why they are not using them for the purpose for which they were intended.