Eligible recipients to register in groups according to age
It'll be November before the government starts handing out the HK$6,000 cash promised in the aftermath of this year's budget speech.
The 6.1 million Hong Kong residents who are eligible for the giveaway will have to register, in five separate stages, based on age, the government announced on Thursday.
People aged 65 and above can start registering for the payment Aug 28, subject to the approval of the Legislative Council Finance Committee.
They will be followed by people in the age groups 55-64, 45-54, 30-44 and 18-29.
The financial commitment for the payout spree is HK$37.98 billion.
The government on Thursday drew a line on eligible recipients, saying those who have reached the age of 18 by March 31, 2012, will be able to receive the payout.
Those who are eligible will be able to register with their banks during specified periods respective to each age group.
The registration period is expected to end Nov 5.
Those who have no bank accounts may register with post offices.
Eligible persons who do not register during the specified period may still register before Dec 31, 2012, but that will be the cut-off date.
People willing to receive the payout between April 1 and Dec 31, 2012, will be paid an additional HK$200.
A government spokesman said only holders of Hong Kong permanent resident identity cards are eligible. Those studying and working in Hong Kong on temporary permits do not qualify.
Once the registration forms are received, banks will the check data before transferring the information to the government.
The Immigration Department will then follow up to ensure applicants fulfill the requirements.
"The purpose of these procedures is to avoid duplications, forgeries and fraud," the spokesman explained.
Lawmaker Wong Kwok-hing, from the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, who had proposed earlier that the date for eligibility for 18-year-olds be set at Dec 31, said he was pleased with the relaxed age requirement because more people will benefit.
Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat criticized the government for "low efficiency" since it will take eight months for (the first) eligible recipients to receive the money.
Olivia Cheung, a woman in her 20s, said she has no complaints about waiting for the money.
"There are so many people. It is normal that it would take so long," she said.
She would have no objection to waiting for next April to register, as the government has encouraged, but not for the extra HK$200.
"Getting the HK$6,000 earlier or later just a little bit does not make a big difference," she said.
Nicholas Cheng, 26, said the progress is a little slower than he expected.
He said he will not be able to get his share of the handout until late January or early February of 2012, almost one year after the financial secretary announced the cash handout in March.
He said the added HK$200 incentive is not good enough for him to delay registration for six months.
"HK$200 doesn't even catch up the inflation," he said.
A student who won't turn 18 until the middle of 2012 said he feels left out.
"Just a difference of several months," he told a local TV.
(HK Edition 06/17/2011 page1)