Cash rise for elderly backed
OLD people should be given more social security, the Elderly Commission recommended yesterday.
Among those who gave their blessing to an increase in the $2,060 monthly payment was Secretary for Health and Welfare Katherine Fok Lo Shiu-ching.
In October 1995 Mrs Fok suggested the then $1,800 Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payment was more than enough for the elderly to live on and save for a rainy day.
Yesterday, she said the exact amount of the increase would be announced in Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's maiden policy address in October.
'The next step is to put it into practice - to calculate and study how to increase it,' she said.
Commission chairman and Executive Councillor Tam Yiu-chung said: 'We should give further assistance to the elderly. Apart from satisfying their needs to meet their daily expenses, they have psychological and social needs.
'Some like to go to the teahouse, buy newspapers and visit private doctors or Chinese medical practitioners.' Unionist and ousted legislator Leung Yiu-chung criticised the Government for unnecessarily delaying its decision to revise payments to the elderly.
He said the former legislature had tried to increase the payment by at least $300 but to no avail.
'The delay was just to enable them to give the credit to the Elderly Commission under the Special Administrative Region,' he said.
Yesterday, the commission set up a 17-member ad hoc committee on housing and residential care. It will review the supply and demand in public housing and residential care for the elderly.
The Government will also commission a report on whether the elderly card, available only to those aged 65 or over, should be extended to those aged 60 and over.
Mr Leung called on the Government to extend the benefits of cardholders from discounted fares on public transport to other areas such as discounts at private clinics.