Is it good news? The Financial Secretary just announced that, instead of injecting $6000 to Mandatory Provident Fund accounts, the government would give out $6000 cash instead. He said:
1. This would be given to citizens with permanent Hong Kong Identity Card.
2. Citizens could, according to their own needs and wishes, collect the amount in total.
3. The procedures would include the element of encouraging saving.
The Financial Secretary has just made up his mind. The payout would have to be carried out within this year. Let’s say you are the officer entrusted with this task. Don’t panic; it is just a thought exercise for the time being.
How to get the records of permanent Hong Kong Identity Card and who is responsible for the payment? I think it is obvious that Immigration Department should have such records. For payment, the possible candidates are the Treasury, Social welfare Department, Home Affairs Department, or simply the Immigration Department. There will be a power fight at the top level of not getting the job.
The simplest idea is to let people queue up with their Identity Card in hand to collect the cash. But it doesn’t work that way. There must be a system authenticating recipients, preventing double payments and keeping accounts. I envisage there will be a new computer system with database of Identity Card records downloaded from the Immigration Department. Like the case in Macau, citizens may need to register first. This will give a chance for the government to inspect all Identity Cards to weed out fakes, renew all addresses and particulars, and possibly collect bank account numbers and authorization for payment. This is a very valuable database with much personal information.
Things get more complicated as citizens may, according to their own needs and wishes, collect the amount in total. I read this several times in order to make sure that he was not saying citizens would collect the amount in total and spent it according to their own needs and wishes. Citizens may wish to collect the amount by installments, or at least this option should be open as a choice. This will make the system much more complicated.
I do not understand how the procedures of giving out money could encourage saving. This requires some innovative thinking. Perhaps the amount could be converted to the inflation-linked bond with priority of subscribing. Or the amount could be paid as fixed bank deposit for collection next year. This calls for all sorts of possibilities. Do you have any good ideas? If so, you may get the job and a rapid promotion.