Cash coupons worth $1,000 should be distributed to encourage spending and help needy families survive the slump, a pressure group urged yesterday. The Social Democratic Forum also demanded Financial Secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung introduce a tax rebate in his budget speech on March 6. The group's spokesman, Steve Chan Kwok-leung, said yesterday deflation and lay-offs had discouraged spending. 'People could use the cash coupons to buy things. And the coupons should be valid for three months so that people must use them and not save the money,' said Mr Chan, who estimated the proposal would cost $4 billion. He said that while a tax rebate offered relief to taxpayers, giving out cash coupons could benefit lower-income groups, some of whom did not pay tax. Three years ago then-financial secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen introduced an $8.5 billion tax rebate to encourage spending. Separately, legislator Frederick Fung Kin-kee led 10 representatives from his Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood to petition Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's office yesterday, urging the Government to create more jobs, cut rents for public tenants, and press public utilities to reduce their charges. Mr Fung said many people were mired in poverty because most of Mr Tung's policies favoured the business sector. In his Lunar New Year message, Mr Tung said the Government's immediate priority was to promote economic growth, although he did not mention ways to achieve this. He also warned: 'There is no short cut to economic restructuring' but said people should have confidence in Hong Kong because of the support from the mainland.