Old age allowance
Commonly known as "fruit money", the old age allowance is a monthly cash subsidy the Hong Kong government pays to senior citizens aged 65-69 with low incomes, and all elderly citizens aged 70 and over. The Leung Chun-ying administration in 2012 proposed to introduce a new means-tested subsidy called the Old Age Living Allowance, which provides HK$2,200 per month for the needy only.
Special meeting set for old age allowance
The chairman of the legislature’s Finance Committee invoked special powers on Monday to speed up scrutiny of the government’s proposed old age allowance.
Lawmakers voted to schedule a special meeting, for Tuesday evening, when the Legislative Council committee will discuss the funding proposal.
Committee chairman Tommy Cheung Yu-yan used his discretion to waive the normal five-day notice period required for the government to table the funding proposal.
Cheung said that if the proposal were not put to a vote – and approved – by Wednesday, about 400,000 low-income elderly people might lose out on the new HK$2,200-per-month subsidy.
But Cheung said it remained unclear whether legislators would complete their scrutiny, and be ready to put the funding proposal to a vote, after Tuesday’s special meetings.
Also on Monday, Legco’s welfare panel spent the afternoon discussing the details of the allowance scheme, to which 57 concern groups sent representatives.
The Finance Committee was originally scheduled to vote on the funding last Friday, but members delayed the ballot due to concerns over a means-test for applicants.
The pan-democrats want the government to waive the means test for those age 70 and above, and the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong wants the asset cap, currently set at HK$186,000, to be raised.