Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan presented the long-awaited Financial Budget last Wednesday (February 22) and announced that $5000 electronic consumption vouchers will be disbursed in an attempt to boost Hong Kong’s economy further. The means of receipt on the consumption voucher are not announced yet, but based on last year, we had AlipayHK, BoC Pay, PayMe from HSBC, Tap & Go, WeChat Pay HK and Octopus card. The first instalment of $3000 consumption voucher will be disbursed earliest in April, and the remaining will be disbursed in the middle of the year.
All Hong Kong permanent residents and new arrivals aged 18 or above will be eligible to receive $5000 worth of consumption vouchers, while those who have come to live in Hong Kong through various admission schemes or to study are eligible for half the amount, which is $2500. This treatment is the same as in previous years when the latter received half of the vouchers’ value.
What are Hongkongers planning to do with the consumption vouchers this year? What do they think about this scheme and its arrangements?
“I’ll use the consumption voucher to buy music equipment, like a mic and an interface, to prepare for my music studies in the United States,” said Eugene Auson, a 20-year-old current CIHE design student.
“I’m going to spend it mostly on my kids,” said Miss Choi, a 52-year-old housewife.
Several people were asked about their opinion on the distribution of $2500 consumption vouchers to non-locals and students who have come to study in Hong Kong.
“I don’t think it’s unfair,” said Leung Wai Man, a 56-year-old bank executive. “I don’t mind because it helps boost the Hong Kong economy anyway. I’m thankful to the government for disbursing this consumption voucher.”
“I’m probably going to spend my consumption voucher on daily shopping and eating. I think it’s ok for those who have come to live in Hong Kong to receive the voucher because at least they live here. But I don’t think international students should be eligible, as they are not residents,” said Thomas Lee, a 25-year-old slasher.
The Hong Kong government has rolled out electronic consumption vouchers since 2021, hoping to help recover the local economy which was badly hit by the pandemic. According to government data, a total of nearly seven million consumption vouchers were distributed in 2021. Total retail sales recorded a growth of 11.9% and 12.1% in August and October 2022 respectively, after the two rounds of vouchers disbursement, which was significantly higher than in the other months.
“I believe that after the disbursement of the vouchers, our sales would definitely go up, even though we only accept Octopus cards,” said Bell, owner of Asian Angel Thrift Store which just opened up its physical store in December last year after running online only for long.
The effects of the 2023 consumption voucher scheme on Hong Kong’s economy are yet to be seen. However, based on last year, we can expect an increase in sales, particularly in the retail business and catering industry.
Featured Image Credit: Fung Sin Wai