Protesters seek help for the disadvantaged

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 February, 2008, 12:00am

Welfare activists, unionists and members of a political group took to the streets yesterday to press for more government funding to help the disadvantaged in this month's budget.

Dozens of demonstrators, including cage dwellers, low-income workers and children from poor families, protested outside Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah's residence in Aberdeen to demand more measures to alleviate poverty.

'The [current] inflation rate is extremely high and poor people are striving hard to make ends meet. But we've just heard [rumours] that there might be rate concessions and tax cuts in the [coming] budget but nothing about how to deal with the income gap,' said Sze Lai-shan, community organiser of the Society for Community Organisation, the protest organiser.

The welfare group called on the government to create more jobs for the grass roots and re-establish the disbanded Commission on Poverty and give it more concrete power to carry out the measures it proposed.

This year, the surplus is widely expected to be about HK$110 billion. Ms Sze suggested the government set up a HK$30 billion fund to help lift people out of poverty.

Meanwhile, about a dozen protestors from the Federation of Trade Unions chanted slogans and marched from Chater Garden to the central government offices yesterday to call for better welfare for the elderly.

A spokesman for the group urged the government to increase the Old Age Allowance to HK$1,000 a month for residents aged 65 or older. Currently, residents aged 70 or above are eligible for an allowance of HK$705 while those aged 65 to 69 receive HK$625.