Transcript of remarks of press conference on 2023 Consumption Voucher Scheme (with photos/video)


     The Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, held a press conference this afternoon (March 10) to announce details of the 2023 Consumption Voucher Scheme. The Acting Government Chief Information Officer, Mr Tony Wong, and the Head (Policy Co-ordination) of the Financial Secretary’s Private Office, Mr Howard Lee, also attended. Following is the transcript of remarks of the press conference:
Reporter: Actually there were some demands from lawmakers that people should be allowed to pay for their electricity bills using the consumption vouchers. So are there any reasons for not following these demands by lawmakers and even the community? And the second question, Mr Chan, you said that the “Happy Hong Kong” Campaign will be launched next month. So along with this campaign, you hope the vouchers can be used to stimulate the economy, but some say previous rounds of vouchers didn’t have much effect. So are you still confident about the effect on the economy this time? Thank you.
Financial Secretary: Thank you. We have been trying very hard to enlarge the scope of eligible expenditure for consumption vouchers as much as possible. The primary objective of the Consumption Voucher Scheme is to stimulate domestic consumption. The current arrangement is the best we can do. Referencing past experience, slightly over 60 per cent of the amount of consumption voucher was spent on retail sales, another some 20 per cent on food and beverage, the rest for services. The amount spent on travelling was pretty small, about 5 per cent. When our residents can utilise these consumption vouchers to spend on different things, the money originally intended to be spent for such other purposes could be saved, and the saved money could be spent on electricity or other public utility bills. The current arrangement has already stroke a proper balance between the policy objective of the Consumption Voucher Scheme and affording maximum convenience to our residents.
     As to the effect of the Consumption Voucher Scheme, we have looked at the amount on private consumption. Every time when we disbursed the consumption vouchers, we could see increases in retail sales. Last year, despite the economic headwind and the challenging economic situation, for private consumption, in the quarter when we dispersed the consumption vouchers, private consumption registered positive growth.
Reporter: What is the amount of economic gain you estimate this round of vouchers will bring? And as many Hong Kongers have chosen to travel overseas after the reopening, are you worried that businesses won’t be able to benefit from this round of vouchers? Thank you.
Financial Secretary: The expected economic impact of the Consumption Voucher Scheme for this year is about a 0.6 per cent positive increase in the GDP (gross domestic product), according to the estimate by the Government Economist. When we disburse these consumption vouchers, we will require these vouchers to be spent in Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, there are different merchants and services providers. Over the past three years, in fact, travel agencies have been suffering. By allowing people to use their consumption vouchers at the travel agencies would help them in a way. On the other hand, consumption is something to do with the mood of the individuals. If people are happy and in good mood, they tend to spend more. On balance, we think that allowing the widest possible scope for these consumption vouchers and giving our residents more possible options is the best way to go.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)