Travel subsidy may be extended

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 February, 2010, 12:00am

The government is considering widening eligibility for a travel allowance to enable more people to look for jobs or to work outside the districts where they live, the labour chief says.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said on radio the government understood travel costs were a big expense for workers on low incomes.

One caller, a cleaning worker, said he was disappointed that while he lived in Sham Shui Po and worked in Sham Tseng, he could not get a travel allowance.

'It is so unfair. One of my colleague lives in Tuen Mun and gets the HK$600 monthly allowance. We both earn HK$5,500 a month,' he said.

A woman caller, also a cleaner, said travelling from her South district home to and from her workplace in Kwai Chung cost her HK$1,000 a month.

Cheung said only people who earned HK$6,500 or less per month and lived in Yuen Long, Tuen Mun, North District or Outlying Islands qualified for a travel allowance.

'We hear the voice that transport costs to many are a burden,' he said. 'We will review the current scheme to see what measures can help people. We need time to study the issue. A review of the present scheme will be completed by the end of the year to help more people. We need to review the present programme before thinking how to extend it.'

He said that when the travel subsidy scheme started two years ago, it was only meant to be a short-term solution designed to help people find a job and to help those who had jobs outside their home areas.

'But then it has been extended... We are not procrastinating but we really need time for the review, like what kind of transport do they use, how much [does it cost]? If we rush out a policy, it will be unfair and people may feel more discontented.'

Monthly help

Two years ago, the government began a travel subsidy scheme for people looking for work outside their home areas

People in certain areas who earn HK$6,500 or less a month are eligible for a monthly subsidy of: $600