Handout stamps subsidized

Local | Amy Nip and Phoenix Un 25 Jan 2019

Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the government will help applicants of the HK$4,000 handout pay outstanding postal fees, if they happened to have inadequate stamps on envelopes.

He called on people to not abuse the government's "flexible" arrangement by skipping stamps altogether.

Cheung said a million more forms will be made available at various government centers by next Monday.

The number of telephone hotlines answering queries will be increased from 28 to 34.

The government is also exempting applicants from providing proof of residence.

"We must handle the applicants with the aim of facilitating the process. The arrangements should be flexible and reasonable," Cheung said.

"The Caring and Sharing Scheme should bring happiness. But we still have to collect basic information (before handing out HK$4,000), as this scheme involves public money."

Cheung said the government would review these arrangements later. However, he thought it reasonable for people to use stamps on the envelope as they're also used when filing tax returns.

The head of the Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency, Lee Chung-sin, answered questions from confused applicants about details of the scheme yesterday.

Wives can receive HK$4,000 if they do not own property or pay tax themselves, even if they have joint assets with their husbands.

If a couple jointly own a flat, the rates concession would be calculated according to the possession ratio. If the rate concession and tax rebate received by an individual does not reach HK$4,000, the person can apply for the difference - for example, a person who received HK$2,000 in concessions can apply for a HK$2,000 handout.

He also reminded that people who spend more than half a year living overseas won't be eligible for the handout. Only Hongkongers on business trips, studying abroad and those undergoing foreign medical treatment will be eligible, he said.

Meanwhile, six pan-democrat legislators met with Cheung, asking to abandon the move to raise the eligible age for elderly Comprehensive Social Security Assistance.

The six lawmakers walked out to show their disagreement with the government, which rejected all their demands. They had requested to exempt people aged 60 to 64 from joining the Support for Self-reliance Scheme while receiving the CSSA.

The pan-democrats asked to meet Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor again, but this too was rejected.

amy.nip@singtaonewscorp.com

phoenix.un@singtaonewscorp.com

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