Legco panel approves transport subsidy scheme

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 December, 2012, 3:28pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 December, 2012, 8:47pm

An improved transport subsidy scheme for working Hongkongers came one step closer to reality on Monday morning, and now the government is pondering how to get it passed in the filibuster-hobbled Finance Committee.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said on Monday the government may rearrange the order in which proposals are tabled in the Finance Committee, to prevent the changes to the Work Incentive Transport Subsidy Scheme from being further delayed by a filibuster.

He was speaking in the Legislative Council’s manpower panel, which approved the enhanced travel subsidy on Monday.

A succession of filibusters in the Finance Committee, mounted by lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung, has blocked passage of legislation on the Old-Age Living Allowance, in turn delaying other bills.

The initial Work Incentive Transport Subsidy Scheme was passed last year, giving low-paid workers a monthly travel allowance of up to HK$600. The bill that passed on Monday in the manpower panel meeting changes the terms of eligibility for the scheme.

Under the new terms, the scheme’s means test will apply to an individual’s income instead of to a whole family’s income – enabling more people to benefit from the programme. The monthly income threshold will also be raised.

For single people the income cap will rise from HK$7,684 to HK$8,105 per month, and for a two-person family from HK$14,105 to HK$14,526.

Cheung said the government would consider rearranging the order of proposals tabled to the Finance Committee.