Poor blast budget
Low-income families voiced their concerns and frustration about the likelihood of there not being any giveaways to help them stave off the effects of inflation in next month's budget.
They took part in a protest march from the Legislative Council to the Central Government Offices yesterday organised by the Society for Community Organisation.
Carrying slogans complaining about the high cost of land, rents and food, they called on the government to introduce relief measures.
They were particularly enraged by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah's attempt to dampen public expectations of budget giveaways this year, especially when the government's surplus is expected to be in the tens of billions of dollars. 'Everything is much more expensive,' said one of the protesters. 'We don't even have enough money for necessities, not to mention any extra money for the Lunar New Year,' she said.
An unemployed mother said: 'My two children have to sleep on the floor in our 80 square foot flat, which costs us HK$2,200 a month. They get sick easily in this freezing winter, which increases our medical expenses.'
Society for Community Organisation official Ho Ka-wah called for policies to help the poor such as the introduction of 15 years of free education, childcare centres in schools to increase employment opportunities for women, and construction of public housing.