The government announced on Wednesday that it will scrap the requirement for proof of address in its HK$4,000 cash handout plan. It also said that applicants who failed to put sufficient postage on their application envelopes will be treated leniently.
The cash handout plan had been criticised for being too complicated since applicants would have to provide proof of address, proof of identity as well as bank account details.
Political parties have said some people have difficulties providing proof of address, such as those who live in subdivided flats or are homeless.
“Given certain public concerns about the practical difficulties in providing address proof, and that applicants declare in the application form their understanding that the willful making of a false statement, misrepresentation or concealment of any information in order to obtain the amount by deception is a criminal offence, the Government has decided not to require applicants to provide their address proof so as to enhance convenience in the submission of applications,” a government press release said.
Some were also concerned whether their applications would still be processed if they failed to pay sufficient postage.
“The Government will also adopt a lenient approach in handling applications sent by mail with insufficient postage to ensure that they can be processed,” the press release said.
In the absence of an online system, applications can only be made by paper and application forms have run out at some community centres. The government said it will provide an extra million Chinese application forms.
It also increased the capacity of the 24-hour public enquiry hotline – on 3897 1088 – from 28 lines to 34 lines.
The new measures came after Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai, as well as three DAB party lawmakers – Leung Che-cheung, Wilson Or and Elizabeth Quat – reached out to officials from the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau to reflect public concerns.
“We have expressed the worries and the disturbances from the citizens. And the response is quite positive. Of course, there is a lot of improvement to be done,” Quat said on Wednesday.
Acting Chief Executive Matthew Cheung said the government has listened to the public: “We immediately responded within hours,” he said on Thursday. “There is only one goal – to make it convenient for the public.”
“We have a humble attitude, we know we must fix the problems.”