Old age allowance

Old age allowance means test necessary, says Law

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 October, 2012, 5:43pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 October, 2012, 6:02pm

The government should go ahead with its planned means test for a new old age allowance - despite opposition from political parties - a member of the taskforce on poverty said on Friday

Dr Law Chi-kwong, a member of the Preparatory Task Force on the Commission on Poverty, said waiving the means test could cost the government an extra HK$5 billion a year, thereby undermining other poverty alleviation initiatives.

“It doesn’t look [like] a big deal under the current financial conditions for the Hong Kong SAR government,” Law said. “But in the long run, it will mount up larger and larger, and will be a big threat to its own sustainability.”

Parties from across the political spectrum, including the Civic Party, Democratic Party, Labour Party and the Beijing-loyalist Federation of Trade Unions say the means test must be waived for those over 70, as for the existing elderly allowance called “fruit money”.

The new benefit will involve a HK$2,200-a-month allowance for about 400,000 elderly poor who pass the means test.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying earlier said the government would stand firm on the proposal despite the opposition from political parties.

He said a new allowance without a means test would attract applications from a “significant portion” of people who have not sought other welfare.

If the government persists with the means test, the 33 pan-democratic and FTU lawmakers will probably vote against the proposal in the 70-seat legislature.