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Hong Kong Budget 2018-2019

43,000 needy and elderly in Hong Kong first to get cash handouts

The handouts were announced in an amendment to the budget last month to give up to HK$4,000 each to 2.8 million city residents

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 April, 2018, 7:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 April, 2018, 11:25am

About 43,000 needy and elderly Hongkongers will be the first to receive cash handouts announced in an amendment to the budget last month to give up to HK$4,000 (US$510) each to 2.8 million Hongkongers.

They have been given priority as they are already receiving social or disability allowances and are likely most in need of the money.

This group had already been promised additional allowances in the original budget announcement on February 28 and the cash handout they are eligible for is the difference between HK$4,000 and the allowance amount. Some would get HK$50 while others could get up to HK$1,310.

On Friday, the government said this group would get their handouts and extra two months’ allowances a month after lawmakers pass the budget.

They are likely to start scrutinising the budget as early as the next few weeks. Last year, the budget was passed in May.

In unveiling the government’s spending blueprint, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po doled out a HK$50 billion package of goodies that largely benefited the middle class through salary and profits tax rebates.

But under intense public and political pressure to do more for the needy, Chan announced the following month that he would use an extra HK$11 billion from the city’s bumper surplus for that purpose.

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Hong Kong residents aged 18 years or above (as of December 31 this year) who do not own property, do not receive any government allowances and did not pay income tax for 2017-18 financial year could get the full HK$4,000 sum.

Others could claim the difference between HK$4,000 and any concessions they received from the city, such as tax rebates or social, disability and elderly allowances.

In the case of underprivileged residents, an eligible adult from a family of three receiving the Comprehensive Social Security Allowance would get from the original budget HK$3,950 – two extra months of allowances. He would then get a top-up amount of HK$50 because of the additional cash handout.

An elderly person on the Old Age Allowance scheme who received an extra HK$2,690 from the government would then get HK$1,310.

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However, others such as single parents would not get the extra cash handout because their two extra months of allowances would already exceed HK$4,000.

In a paper to the Legislative Council on Friday, officials estimated the cash “top-up” for the 43,000 Hongkongers would cost it HK$435 million.