Hong Kong plans to set its first official poverty line in 2013. The threshold will be decided by a panel of experts at the Commission on Poverty but is expected to be set at half of the median household income.
Set clear goals in fight against poverty: think tank
CY Leung's proposals to address problems of the city's poor are a step in the right direction, but lack quantifiable targets, says think tank
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's anti-poverty blueprint lacks detailed targets, making it difficult for the public to scrutinise its effectiveness, a pro-government think tank has said.
The Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre chairman Donald Li Kwok-tung said that although he welcomed the proposals, such as drawing up a poverty line this year, "the policy address did not mention details or quantify the targets of combating poverty, and that makes it hard for the public to assess the policies' effectiveness".
"Quantitative targets basically mean more than just a poverty line," said Li. "Productivity is definitely a target [that could help] … It means if you are targeting less-skilled workers, do we have measures to help them raise productivity? These are things we felt were absent or relatively vague."
Li suggested that the Commission on Poverty could set measurable goals to improve social mobility, especially for the younger generation. Involvement in businesses should also be encouraged.
"[The commission] should identify what the social groups with the most urgent needs are, and what can be done," he said.
The foundation also urged the various policy committees set up by the chief executive in his policy address last week to remain transparent and deliver suggestions within a year to win public recognition.
Li noted that the think tank's suggestions on the address and the budget, submitted in November, were not included in Leung's speech, but said this would not deter the think tank from studying anti-poverty targets and submitting new proposals.
The suggestions may not have featured in the "big policy speech" because they were relatively minor, he said, adding: "Maybe he will adopt our suggestions in executing policies."
The foundation will be scrutinising the work of the committees and advisory bodies announced in the policy address.
Li said that to alleviate public worries, Leung must make sure the bodies engaged with society and gave timely advice.
"After a year, we will see how many reports and proposals they have raised, and then we can make our comments," he said.
While the committees' establishment had been a step in the right direction, "they must be transparent and their meetings and information must be open to the public, because public input is valuable," said Li.
"If everything is done behind closed doors, their effectiveness will be in doubt."