Scrap 'fruit money' rule, union says

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2011, 12:00am


The residency requirement for applicants for old age allowance should be scrapped, a labour union demanded yesterday.

It came after a poll by the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions found that seven in 10 elderly Hongkongers living on the mainland faced difficulty without financial support from the government.

In the past two months, the federation interviewed 300 people, aged between 60 and 79, who lived on the mainland.

71.1 per cent had livelihood problems as they were ineligible for the allowance, commonly called fruit money, the federation found.

'The money is paid to reward the contribution of these old people to Hong Kong society,' union vice-chairman Wong Kwok-kin said.

'They should have the right to receive the money no matter how wealthy they are and where they live.

'Many elderly opt to stay on the mainland as living standards there are lower than in Hong Kong.

'But then many of them find it hard to remain there because of surging living costs in terms of rents and food prices there.'

The current conditions for fruit money state that the HK$1,035 payments are only available to people aged 65 and above who have spent no more than 240 days of the year outside Hong Kong.

There are an estimated 115,500 elderly people from Hong Kong living on the mainland.