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Donald Tsang

DAB has cheaper option to help elderly at no extra cost to taxpayer

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 November, 2011, 12:00am

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Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's popularity reached a record low earlier this year, due chiefly to continued price rises in the property market and the widening gap between rich and poor.

However, following his pledge in his policy address to tackle housing problems his popularity ratings improved.

Apart from housing, he was also praised for the decision to allow the elderly and disabled to use public transport for a flat HK$2 fare.

The only drawback is that this policy will probably not be implemented until the end of next year, which is simply too late.

Given the acute problems people are experiencing with a high cost of living exacerbated by rising inflation, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong urges the government to implement this fare scheme as soon as possible.

Regarding welfare for the elderly, after consulting academics and other experts, the DAB has hammered out a proposal on retirement protection. We propose that the existing normal old age allowance, known as 'fruit money' should be modified into a 'three-classes allowance scheme'.

We would lower the age limit from 70 to 65 to be eligible for an allowance of HK$1,035 per month, without undergoing any income or asset means test. Those who are willing to be means-tested would be entitled to HK$2,070 per month if they have a monthly income of less than HK$6,045 and assets valued at less than HK$177,000. Those with assets of less than HK$88,500, would get HK$3,105 per month.

Our proposed scheme would cover a greater number of elderly people, especially those who live in poverty but for certain reasons have failed to meet the requirements for the existing Comprehensive Social Security Assistance.

A universal retirement protection scheme would need extra contributions from employees and employers and would cost the government a least HK$100 billion. Our proposal would only cost the administration about HK$15.5 billion per year, without the public having to pay anything extra.

The existing Mandatory Provident Fund has been heavily criticised and people would be furious if they were asked to contribute more on top of the current MPF scheme.

Our proposal would be more popular with Hongkongers. We hope the government will consider our proposal.

Holden Chow, chairman, Young DAB