Applying for review under the Consumption Voucher Scheme
Registration for the 2022 (Phase II) Consumption Voucher Scheme (CVS) is now underway. Existing registrants who wish to change their stored value facilities (SVFs) accounts for receiving consumption vouchers, as well as eligible persons who have not registered previously may submit applications by 23 July. According to the eligibility criteria promulgated on 13 June, residents who have permanently departed from Hong Kong or have such intention, are not eligible for receiving Phase II consumption vouchers. Therefore, registrants who have made statutory declarations to withdraw their Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contributions or benefits under Occupational Retirement Schemes, on grounds of "permanent departure from Hong Kong", would not, on the face of it, meet the eligibility criteria.
Taking into account that some residents may indeed have, for various reasons, returned to Hong Kong to work or live, the CVS Secretariat has issued SMS to registrants who have made the above declaration to inform them of the situation and invite them to submit a written application for review within 14 days upon receiving the SMS. If they are currently residing in Hong Kong, providing simple proof will help ascertain their eligibility.
We take a lenient and facilitating approach in processing the proof. Such records as bank statements, tax demand notes, salary statements, rent receipts, telephone bills, public utility bills, medical attendance records, hospital appointment slips, etc. may be used. If registrants are unable to provide such records due to special circumstances, they may state the reasons in the review application form. The CVS Secretariat will look into these cases and exercise discretion where appropriate.
We encourage registrants who intend to apply for review to submit their applications electronically or by post. The application form may be downloaded from the CVS Scheme’s website. Upon completion, return it together with the proof of residency in Hong Kong by email (email@example.com), post ("Consumption Voucher Scheme Secretariat" at P.O. Box 185000, General Post Office, Hong Kong) or fax (3106 0701). Applicants may also submit their forms in person, or through their relatives and friends, to the eight temporary service centres of the CVS Scheme. They are located in Sheung Wan, North Point, Cheung Sha Wan, Mong Kok, Kwun Tong, Sha Tin (Shek Mun), Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun respectively (detailed addresses). Registrants who have received the SMS will need to submit an application for review within 14 days. For those who face hardships, we will exercise discretion where necessary.
For registrants of the CVS Scheme who have made statutory declarations to leave Hong Kong permanently and withdrawn MPF contributions early, we believe a considerable number of them have left Hong Kong for good. Public money amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars would be used should these registrants be handed consumption vouchers. Indeed, according to information verified between the CVS Scheme Secretariat and the Mandatory Provident Fund Authority, around 240 000 registrants have made the relevant statutory declarations. As at last Saturday evening, the Secretariat had received a total of about 30 000 review applications through various channels (including email, fax, post and at service centres).
There are views suggesting that the authorities should have further checked by different means whether registrants who withdrew their MPF contributions early are in fact no longer residing in Hong Kong. While we understand these views, there are various requirements and restrictions in the existing legislation seeking to protect personal data and prevent undue access to them. For instance, the Inland Revenue Ordinance has stringent restrictions on the use of data for purposes other than that for tax. We will continue to pay attention to views from the community, and learn from the experience of disbursing consumption vouchers for this time.
It is worth noting that high external inflation and rising pressure on interest rates are plaguing the global economy, thus creating pressure to drag Hong Kong’s economy too. The value of merchandise exports fell by 1.4% year-on-year in May, and will continue to be under pressure in the short term. Where the value of retail sales rebounded by 11.7% in April this year when Phase I consumption vouchers were disbursed, it fell slightly by 1.7% in May. Many retailers and restaurants also indicated that their business had declined recently, and the situation ahead would really depend on the impact of the epidemic’s development as well as the tightening of the financial environment on the public’s confidence and ability to spend. It is fair to say that amid an uncertain economic outlook, the disbursement of Phase II consumption vouchers in installments will help extend its effect of boosting the economy.
After the end of registration period for 2022 (Phase II) CVS on 23 July, relevant preparation work will proceed to the next stage. The six SVF operators are gearing up to start disbursing Phase II consumption vouchers on 7 August. The operators have rolled out quite many new offers this time for the benefit of both consumers and merchants. Phase II consumption vouchers will inject a purchasing power of more than $30 billion into the market, hopefully with a multiplier effect too. We hope this will bring optimism and actual business to the retail market.
July 17, 2022