FAMILIES WILL LEAVE SAR IF SCHOOL FEES GO UP
The government says it is considering reducing or withdrawing the subsidies it gives to the English Schools Foundation (ESF).
As one of the affected parents (I have three children enrolled in an ESF school) I believe that any further increase in fees due to the government's possible action would certainly create an exodus of talent from the SAR.
Let us assume there are about 500,000 foreigners (including Hong Kong returnees but excluding maids) living in Hong Kong and the majority of them are from the middle classes and on 'local' salary packages. They pay taxes, contribute to the economy and impart valuable knowledge to their local colleagues. They are helping to build Hong Kong into a world city. Withdrawing or reducing the subsidy will force the ESF to increase school fees and this will force some parents to seriously consider leaving Hong Kong.
On a very conservative assumption that only one-third of the foreigners pay taxes and that the average tax paid is $50,000 per annum, the government collects about $8.3 billion. This is 28 times more than the $300 million the government is trying to save. Does it make sense to try to potentially drive away at least $8.3 billion while trying to save on a $300 million grant?
I hope Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-cheung will think carefully about this aspect of the equation and not adopt short-sighted proposals in a hasty manner.