Tang keeps silent on poverty body's future

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 May, 2007, 12:00am

Speculation is mounting over whether the Commission on Poverty will be disbanded under the next government, but chairman Henry Tang Ying-yen stopped short of confirming the move yesterday.

The speculation follows yesterday's announcement that a labour and welfare bureau will be formed under the new administration.

Speaking after the commission's 14th meeting yesterday, Mr Tang, the financial secretary, said the government secretariat had given members a draft of a working paper that summed up the commission's work in the past 2? years and recommended the way forward.

The paper recommends that the newly announced bureau oversee poverty alleviation issues that are currently tackled by the commission.

But Mr Tang avoided confirming if the new bureau would take over the commission's role. 'The work of addressing the issue of poverty will continue because the government puts a lot of emphasis on this important issue,' he said.

But as the administration would change there could also be changes in the institutional structure. 'We will probably make some recommendation when we finalise the report.'

To help tackle cross-generational poverty, the government has earmarked HK$300 million to set up a child development fund in the next five years, with half of this being used for district-based work to alleviate poverty.

The commission will submit its final report next month.

In a statement last night, the government said the term of the commission would end in June and the next administration would consider the suitable institutional structure to continue the work to prevent and alleviate poverty.