More consumption vouchers required, extra for needy, accounting group says

One of the largest professional accounting bodies globally, CPA Australia, on Wednesday called on financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po to issue another round of spending vouchers in his budget.

The group noted that with the economy expected to rebound this year along with the resumption of cross-border travel and easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Hong Kong needs bold action to attract talent, improve the environment and boost the economy.

The group said Hong Kong should reintroduce the capital investment entrant scheme, also expanding the scheme to cover Chinese nationals.

Alternatively, the government can consider introducing an immigration investment program providing residency status to those making investments into strategic industries such as in innovation and technology and environmental, social and governance (ESG) areas, the group added.

Regarding the issuance of another round of consumption vouchers for residents, CPA Australia said authorities need to start moving away from an expansionary approach in the budget and introduce a modified version of the scheme - with a focus on supporting lower-income earners.

The group suggested that all eligible residents could be handed HK$2,000 worth of the vouchers, while an extra HK$6,000 would be given to those less well-off.

Theresa Chan, Deputy Chairperson of CPA Australia’s Taxation Committee – Greater China said Hong Kong residents were facing higher costs, particularly hurting low-income earners.

“To help ease cost pressures we want the HK$10,000 tax rebate on salaries tax maintained. Personal allowance, child allowance and married person’s allowances should be increased. The government should also consider increasing the salaries tax allowances at least in line with inflation.” Chan said.

Separately, the group wants the tobacco duty increased to reduce smoking rates and alleviate the burden on public healthcare system, while authorities should consider a tax on non-recyclable plastic products to reduce plastic consumption and waste.