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.
Old age allowance approval 'reflects public opinion'
Chairman of the Executive Committee on the Community Care Fund Dr Law Chi-kwong said the sudden approval of the old age allowance by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council reflected public opinion.
“Many of the legislators did not have time to read the document. They did not even know what questions to ask,” Law said in a radio programme on Sunday morning. “It was a bit of ‘hard luck’ but [the decision] followed the wishes of the society.”
Law added that although some legislators thought that the HK$2,200-a-month allowance asset cap was not ideal, the majority thought that the policy should be approved before further review.
“If we only do things when they are perfect, the government won’t be able to do anything,” he said.
Law said that discussion regarding the establishment of a long-term universal pension scheme needed to take place this year.
“The number of people aged over 70 will increase drastically over the next five years and government expenditure on social welfare and medical services for the elderly will increase by up to 10 per cent,” Law said. “If we do nothing, the consequences could be very serious.”
He added that a universal pension was one of the main issues facing the Poverty Commission.