Monday 7 March 2011

News: $6,000 in fund for nonqualifiers

So most of us will get the $6000, and I've shared my views on how to use it, but that is not the end of the story. Questions such as how and when they will distribute that money to us, and what about those people who won't get anything are yet to be answered. Well, today's newspaper seems to have shed light on our concerns.

$6,000 in fund for nonqualifiers 

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said yesterday no one in need will be left out as he plans to inject extra cash into the Community Care Fund for nonpermanent residents who do not qualify for the HK$6,000 budget handouts. 

Dennis Chong

Monday, March 07, 2011

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said yesterday no one in need will be left out as he plans to inject extra cash into the Community Care Fund for nonpermanent residents who do not qualify for the HK$6,000 budget handouts.

In his Letter to Hong Kong, Tsang said the arrangement is aimed at allowing all residents to benefit from Hong Kong's prosperity.

The government bowed to public pressure last week by canceling the proposed injection of HK$6,000 into MPF accounts, instead proposing to give this amount to all adult permanent residents.

Tsang said yesterday details of how the HK$6,000 will be distributed will be announced as soon as possible. But he suggested that an incentive - possibly in the form of an interest payment - will be in place to encourage people not to withdraw the money.

"As is often said: a week is a long time in politics," Tsang said. "This past week has provided a valuable and positive learning experience for everyone involved in consensus-building."

However, former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang said a U-turn within a week "seriously affected the government's credibility."

Community Care Fund executive committee chairman Law Chi-kwong said a meeting will be held soon to discuss the new plan.

He said funding will be sought from the Legislative Council in May with funds available for use as early as June.

The fund's home affairs subcommittee chairman Bunny Chan Chung-bun, responsible for helping new immigrants, welcomed the decision.

But fund steering committee member Peter Cheung Kwok-che said setting aside cash handouts for new immigrants is discriminatory.

"Just give them the money. Simplify the issue. Don't divide society," said Cheung, who is also a lawmaker for the social-welfare sector.

Equal Opportunities Commission chairman Lam Woon-kwong said it has received more than 10 inquiries from nonpermanent residents about the handouts.

However, Lam admitted there is little the commission can do since the anti-discrimination laws do not provide full protection to new immigrants.

June seems like a long way from now, but waiting longer is better than never. Some people really cannot wait and are already spending it on travels or shopping. As for me, I think I have already spent some on a friend's wedding and will continue to spend some more this coming Sunday. Well, considering the fact that these expenses are not inevitable, maybe I should feel happier that I can get back cash to cover my loss. However, while we might be jumping with joy over our $6000-$12,000, citizens of Singapore are too grateful! Why?

The Merlion
Image from Live Trading News
That is because the Singapore Budget 2011 which was released on 20th Feb before the Hong Kong one on the 23rd actually proposed to give away cash as well! How much will they get? Well, they have a lot of goodies in their Budget, but if we just look at the cash parts, exchanging it to Hong Kong dollars according to the rate today (S$1 = $6.15), then here is the result:

The average Singaporean household will receive S$3,500 from this year’s Budget (HK$21,525). This will come from the S$3.2 billion to be spent on the “Grow and Share Package” and S$3.4 billion in longer-term Social Investments for households this year.
All adult Singaporeans will also receive Growth Dividends to share the fruits of last year’s exceptional economic growth. The majority of Singaporeans – 80% – will get $600 to $800 each(HK$3,690-HK$4,920).
Tax cuts: Singaporeans will receive a personal income tax rebate of 20% for individual resident taxpayers for YA 2011. The rebate will be capped at $2,000 (HK$12,300). Taxes will be reduced significantly for middle and upper-middle income families. Marginal tax rates will be reduced for first S$120,000 of chargeable income.

So, you do the math, where would you be happier? 

No wonder my friend who married a Singaporean guy don't envy me at all!

shed light on sth -- Something or someone that casts/sheds/throws light on a situation provides an explanation for it or information which makes it easier to understand
latter -- (adj) [before nounnear or towards the end of something
prosperity -- (n) [U] the state of being successful and having a lot of money
bow to -- (vb)  [I or Tto bend your head or body forward, especially as a way of showing someone respect or expressing thanks to people who have watched you perform
incentive -- (n) [C or Usomething which encourages a person to do something
sought -- (vb) past simple and past participle of seek
steer -- (vb) [T usually + adverb or preposition] to take someone or something, or cause them to go, in the direction in which you want them to go
set sth aside -- (phrasal verb) to save something, usually money or time, for a special purpose
discriminatory-- (adj) treating a person or particular group of people differently, especially in a worse way from the way in which you treat other people, because of their skin colour, religion, sex, etc.

Economics: Hong Kong Budget 2011-2012 @ Locky's English Playground

News: Handouts & tax rebates in budget U-turn @ Locky's English Playground

$6,000 in fund for nonqualifiers @ The Standard

Singapore Budget 2011 @ Live Trading News