Poverty level in Hong Kong to be defined

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 January, 2013, 2:25pm

The city will define a poverty line, taking a big step towards recognising and alleviating the plight of low-income earners, a government-appointed working group says.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's administration accepted the need to revive the Commission on Poverty, which his predecessor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen scrapped in 2007, the seven-member task force said.

Tsang's government had effectively turned a blind eye to the state of the poor, by refusing to recognise or adopt any quantitative measurement of poverty.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor would head the commission, while Leung would chair its annual summit, task force member Ho Hei-wah said.

"An internationally recognised standard will be used in establishing the poverty line," said Ho, who is also director of right's group the Society for Community Organisation.

He said the Leung administration acknowledged the need to set a standard to effectively define, pinpoint and tackle poverty.

"Official acceptance of an international standard of measuring poverty will add considerable pressure on the government," Ho said, as there would be a measurable standard on the effectiveness of any poverty alleviation policies.

"They will then be held accountable and up for critique. This is a big step - forward - for the government."

He expected the move to result in significant changes in welfare policies, which would then be held up to greater scrutiny against a world standard.

However, the poverty line might not become an eligibility criterion for receiving social welfare, he said.

The commission will be divided into six task forces, tackling issues in education, employment, social mobility, social security and support, social engagement and groups with special needs.