Poor new immigrants to get HK$10,000 handout too - RTHK
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Poor new immigrants to get HK$10,000 handout too

2020-09-21 HKT 16:46
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  • Poor new immigrants to get HK$10,000 handout too
Damon Pang reports
The government said it expects to spend HK$2.1 billion on a one-off HK$10,000 cash handout to low-income new immigrants in Hong Kong.

New arrivals who were left out of a government cash handout scheme earlier this year for permanent residents can instead get the money through the government's Community Care Fund.

The government estimated that about 203,000 people are eligible to apply under the scheme, and those eligible include applicants of government subsidies this year, or those who have been exempted by public hospitals for certain medical expenses.

Labour and Welfare Secretary and chair of the fund Law Chi-kwong said new immigrants should be helped despite the government facing ongoing financial woes.

"They're also residents of Hong Kong, and they are bona fide Hong Kong residents. So how are we going to help them?"

"Community Care Fund is a suitable vehicle of providing this kind of assistance, but because it is the Community Care Fund, we have to target [it] on those who are relatively financially needy," the secretary said.

Law said all applicants must be 18-years-old before March 31, 2021, have obtained a one-way permit to settle in Hong Kong, and should not have lived in Hong Kong for more than seven years.

He said the scheme will be means-tested to ensure applicants actually come from low-income backgrounds.

Applicants can apply for the money from Sunday, starting with those aged 49 and above, and the deadline is the end of this year.

The labour and welfare chief announced that the Bank of China (Hong Kong) has been tasked with processing the applications, and 17 of its branches will open on Sunday for people to submit their paper applications.

Law brushed aside concerns by having the Bank of China as the only agent, saying it was picked because it has the most branches among banks in the SAR, and that if the scheme was put up to tender it would take longer for people to get the subsidy.

He also said if more banks took part in this scheme, it would involve more teething problems such as synchronising their systems.