Lawmakers on Friday endorsed funding to open new posts to handle the proposed old age living allowance, a move that would likely make over-due payments to 290,000 senior citizens available by April next year.
The move saw the end of a 29-hour series of discussions held by the Legislative Council finance committee which had met seven times since October.
The twist came as the government withdrew a previous funding request at Friday’s meeting and submitted a new request for some HK$23 million in funding for the creation of about 90 posts in the Social Welfare Department to prepare for the launch of the old age living allowance as early as next April.
The committee endorsed the funding requests, with a vote of 24-3. Three abstained.
After the voting, Secretary for the Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said the government could allocate the money from the budget to be announced next February.
Under the scheme, those aged 65 or above with incomes no more than HK$6,600 a month and assets of not over HK$186,000 will be eligible to receive the HK$2,200-a-month living allowance.
Total annual spending was estimated to be over US$6 billion.
At present, only those aged 65 to 69 have to go through a means test to receive an old age allowance of HK$1,090 a month. Those who have reached the age of 70 are exempted from means test.