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.
'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung offers to set aside old-age allowance fight
Other proposals can move ahead without ending discussion of elderly allowance, 'Long Hair' says
Lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung, who has been filibustering to block the proposed old-age living allowance, says he wants to set aside discussion of the issue to allow other funding requests to move forward.
The funding request for the old-age allowance appears unlikely to be passed this year as Leung, of the League of Social Democrats, vows to continue filibustering to force the government into making concessions.
The delay in passage of the funding request - which will be scrutinised today for the seventh time in two months - has held up four other proposals.
They include the proposals to double the elderly health care voucher to HK$1,000 a year, extend ethnic minorities' examination subsidy, increase judges and judicial officers' pay by 5.66 per cent, and inject a one-off HK$100 million into the Supplementary Legal Aid Fund.
"Since the government did not take the initiative to suggest that the Finance Committee scrutinise the other [four] items first, I will table an adjournment motion on the scrutiny of the allowance proposal so that we can fast-track other items [in time]," Leung said.
He called Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying "despicable" for insisting on continuing with the scrutiny of the allowance proposal ahead of the four affected funding requests.
Leung Kwok-hung has put forward hundreds of motions to press the government to ease or scrap the proposed scheme's means testing so that it can benefit more people.
Under the scheme, those aged 65 and above with incomes of not more than HK$6,660 a month and assets of not more than HK$186,000 would be eligible to receive the HK$2,200-a-month allowance.
Currently, only those aged 65 to 69 have to go through a means test to receive HK$1,090 a month.
Finance Committee chairman Tommy Cheung Yu-yan has granted the government's request to extend today's meeting from two hours to four hours and to scrutinise the proposed allowance. He said there would be sufficient time to vote on Leung's 113 pending motions.
"The government is trying to make me take the bullet by arranging other funding proposals behind [it]," Leung said.