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Migrant workers and students not included in new $10k handout, HK govt says

04 March 2020

By The SUN
Filipino migrant workers in Central: many hope the HK govt would also give them cash relief
The government’s announcement yesterday, Mar 3, that non-permanent residents in financial need could get $10,000 from the Community Care Fund, briefly raised hopes that foreign domestic workers could also benefit from the cash relief bonanza.

Speaking on a radio show, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said the plan was to distribute cash to non-permanent residents “with the intention of staying here permanently.”

He added: "There are two groups of beneficiaries: those here on one-way permits and those here for family reunions, including ethnic minorities, who have not satisfied the seven-year rule."

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Law’s statement came after Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po announced in his budget address on Wednesday that $10,000 will be given to all permanent residents over 18 years of age.

His initial announcement which did not specify clearly who the non-permanent residents to be given money from the Fund are, led to speculation among the more than 400,000 foreign domestic workers here that they could somehow benefit from the windfall.
But this hope was dashed when a government press release issued afterwards quoted Law as saying that the non-permanent residents he was referring to were “those who are coming here to live in Hong Kong, rather than those who are in transit, such as those studying or those who are imported labour.”

He added, “The primary purpose of those who will be covered will be those coming here to Hong Kong to stay, but unfortunately they may not have reached seven years to become permanent residents.

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From this pronouncement, it would appear that Filipinos on employment visas who have not been in Hong Kong long enough to qualify for permanent residency, along with their dependants, could benefit from the second tranche of cash giveaway.

Not qualified, apart from FDWs, are skilled workers whose stay in Hong Kong are on per-contract basis, and those holding student visas.
Law said the government was thinking of following the practice set in 2011, when non-permanent residents who were in financial difficulties were each given $6,000 – the same amount handed out to each adult permanent resident.

Secretary Law (left) with Consul General Raly Tejada (file photo)
As in 2011, Law said applicants to the fund will have to meet certain conditions such as financial need, but added that “the conditions are loose.” That means, requiring an assets test, and a possible random check on applicants.

He said the fund will hold meetings later this month to work on the details of the handout.

He noted that in 2011, the distribution from the fund took six months longer than the government to start distribution. That means, the cash distribution won’t take place until July this year at the earliest.

"In the current situation, many people have been affected by the outbreak. The sectors suffering the most are retail, food and beverages, travel, transport and logistics. That is around tens of thousands of individuals and families. Lawyers and social workers are also affected. Being affected by the outbreak has become a common phenomenon," Law said.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong has  announced that it will distribute between $2,000 to $5,000 to unemployed families affected by the coronavirus crisis.

The total value of the cash assistance is around $3 million, to be distributed to around 600 to 1,500 families.

Residents can submit applications to the DAB from next week until the end of the month.
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