Old age allowance

Special meeting set for old age allowance

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 October, 2012, 6:41pm
UPDATED : Monday, 29 October, 2012, 8:33pm

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.