In April, about 6.3 million Hong Kong residents will receive the first instalment of a new batch of HK$10,000 (US$1,280) consumption vouchers aimed at helping them and stimulating the coronavirus-hit economy. But one undervalued and overworked section of the community – the city’s 340,000-strong workforce of foreign domestic helpers, mostly Filipinos and Indonesians, who face more challenges than most – will miss out. Again. As with 2021’s HK$5,000 voucher handout, only permanent residents aged 18 and over, and new immigrants from mainland China, are eligible . Expats holding work visas and exchange students will also miss out. Helpers are ruled out of the handout because of a deeper issue: they are not eligible for permanent residency, even if they have stayed in Hong Kong for seven years without interruption, the length of time other foreigners must live in the city to be eligible for right of abode. This is unjust, reeks of discrimination and exacerbates race and gender divides. In 2013, domestic helpers Evangeline Vallejos and Daniel Domingo , who argued that denying them permanent residency was unconstitutional, lost a years-long legal battle when five judges of the Court of Final Appeal ruled unanimously that they would not be allowed to settle permanently in Hong Kong. Pangyao magazine puts Hong Kong’s migrant community in the picture Some domestic helpers have worked in the city for decades, cleaning their employers’ homes and looking after their children. How can we not consider them for permanent residency? Those excluded from receiving the consumption vouchers are as vital to the city’s socio-economic well-being as those who are eligible. They must play by the same rules, being subject to compulsory universal testing and HK$10,000 fines for breaking social-distancing laws, a huge penalty for helpers, many of whom are on the HK$4,630 a month minimum wage. The government wasted an opportunity to dangle the consumption voucher as an incentive for the unvaccinated population to get vaccinated – the main obstacle to curbing the danger of Covid-19. What it has succeeded in doing, however, is delivering another discriminatory blow to some of the hardest workers in this “international” and “cosmopolitan” city. Perhaps those who receive a voucher should consider paying it forward to a charity that can help those who have once again been let down by the system.