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Thursday, Apr 25, 2024

Paul Chan says govt can’t ‘play generous’ to its own detriment in doling out cash

Paul Chan says govt can’t ‘play generous’ to its own detriment in doling out cash

Hong Kong’s finance chief Paul Chan Mo-po said the government cannot “play generous” in handing out the consumption vouchers, after a citizen complained to him that the amount was halved and was way less than the cash handouts in Macau.
Attending a phone-in radio program on Thursday morning, one caller complained that the new round of vouchers this year was halved from the original HK$10,000, adding that the city’s neighbor - the Macau SAR - has been handing out a higher amount of cash handouts for years.

In response, Chan said the Hong Kong government should not “play generous” to try “keep up with the Joneses.”

He also defended that the sweeteners were only “[slightly] less sweet,” hoping citizens could understand the government’s constraints.

Meanwhile, another caller - a smoker - accused Chan of discrimination for only raising the tobacco tax but not the duty rate on liquor.

The finance chief defended that the decision was made in consideration of public health - for both the smokers and victims of second-hand smoke.

He said raising the duty rate for tobacco is the most effective intervention to help smokers cut their consumption, which authorities “want people to smoke less.”

However, when callers proposed that the duty rate should go up further to eliminate cigarette consumption, Chan said the government must strike a balance to take care of the needs of the grassroots.
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