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Hong Kong's Cash Bonus Enters Second Stage

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

29 February 2012

Hong Kong’s Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau (FSTB) said the overall implementation of the HKD6,000 (USD773) cash handout scheme has been smooth since its launch, and that Stage 2 will commence on April 1.

The scheme was announced following the 2011-12 Budget and launched on August 28 last year, in substitution for a one-off payment into individual mandatory provident fund (retirement) accounts. It envisages the payment of the cash amount to each Hong Kong permanent identity card holder aged 18 and above.

In the second stage, persons who met the eligibility criteria on August 28, but who chose to receive the sum later, may register from April 1, 2012, to December 31, 2012, so as to receive HKD6,000 plus a bonus of HKD200.

Those who did not fulfil the eligibility criteria on August 28, but who will do so by March 31, 2012, may also register to receive HKD6,000 on or after April 1, 2012, but will not be eligible for the additional HKD200. Overall registration for the scheme will close on December 31, 2012.

An FSTB spokesman disclosed that "the overall implementation of Stage 1 has been smooth. As at February 15 this year, over 4.47m people successfully registered under the scheme with a total of about HKD26.8bn disbursed.” Originally, in July last year, the Legislative Council approved a commitment of just over HKD38.5bn for implementing the scheme.

The number of eligible persons for the scheme is estimated to be around 6.19m. To ensure registration in an orderly and efficient manner, the government adopted a batching arrangement during the first ten weeks in Stage 1 so that registrants submitted their forms in five batches according to their year of birth.

It is estimated that the number of potential registrants in Stage 2 will therefore be about 1.69m, and that, therefore, a similar batching arrangement will not be necessary. However, during the first two weeks of Stage 2, priority will be given to processing registrations made by elderly registrants who were born in 1946 or before.

The spokesman added that: "Based on the experience so far, it is estimated that about 22% of these eligible persons who have not yet registered may register through e-banking. The remaining 1.32m potential registrants (including about 110,000 persons born in 1946 or before) may submit registration forms via drop-boxes at bank branches and post offices.”

Similar to the arrangement during Stage 1, registrants who register through banks and meet the eligibility criteria will normally receive payment within around 10 weeks after registration. Those who register through Hongkong Post and have met the eligibility criteria will normally be notified by post to collect their cheque within around 12 weeks after registration.

The spokesman confirmed that, to ensure that registration will be conducted in an orderly and effective manner, the government will arrange publicity to inform the public of the registration arrangements for Stage 2. He reminded members of the public to safeguard their personal data and guard against scams for obtaining personal data or money by deceit in the guise of the HKD6,000 scheme.

TAGS: individuals | tax | economics | fiscal policy | Hong Kong | individual income tax

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