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  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 3:43pm
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POLITICS

Lawmakers' poverty fact-finding trip to Europe is scrapped

Lawmakers' costly trip to Sweden and Finland is scrapped in favour of Japan and Taiwan

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 May, 2013, 6:40am

Lawmakers have scrapped plans for a poverty fact-finding trip to northern Europe.

They decided the money would be better spent visiting Taiwan and Japan, which are more akin to Hong Kong.

The Sunday Morning Post revealed two weeks ago that the week-long trip to Sweden and Finland - two of the world's most expensive countries - could cost taxpayers HK$565,000. Members of the Legislative Council's subcommittee on poverty announced the new plans on Friday after lawmakers questioned the original destinations.

They asked whether Sweden and Finland were appropriate choices, given how different their economies and demographics were from Hong Kong's.

"A few lawmakers raised concerns over the trip to Europe, so we've decided to switch to Asia," said subcommittee chairman Frederick Fung Kin-kee.

Fung said those lawmakers weren't present at the previous meeting when the initial destinations were chosen.

"Circumstances in Japan and Taiwan are more similar to what we have in Hong Kong. Also, the trip will be much cheaper."

Keeping the fact-finding mission within the region will also give them more time.

"We can maximise the time in our week-long trip if we go somewhere closer. Going to Europe would have meant two days of travelling and only five days of actually experiencing and learning about their systems."

Fung said lawmakers chose Finland and Sweden for their different approach to welfare, social security and dealing with an ageing population.

But as the Post reported, they also levy taxes at much higher rates and make more generous welfare provisions.

Sweden has one of the highest marginal tax rates in the world - currently 56.6 per cent - with Finland close behind on 51.13 per cent. Hong Kong's personal tax rate tops out at 15 per cent.

Dr Law Chi-kwong, a member of the Commission on Poverty and head of the Community Care Fund, previously said that studying the two countries would not be useful models for Hong Kong given their dissimilarities.

The funds for the trip will come out of the HK$55,000 allotted to each lawmaker per term for overseas duty trips.

It is not yet clear how many of the subcommittee's 22 members will join the fact-finding mission.

Trade unionist lawmaker Chan Yuen-han said at the meeting: "Japan has dealt with their ageing population very well, and I think we would get more out of visiting them instead.

"If we are going to [Finland and Sweden], I definitely will not go. But if it's Japan and Taiwan, I'll consider going."

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superdx
Why does Hong Kong have to copy other countries? We have our own tertiary education institutions. With plenty of motivated undergraduates and graduates alike that would love to tackle this problem. Please use them. And pay them. Man alive.
caractacus
They need look no further than by visiting Hong Kong families with children who live in partitioned, single room accommodation whose parents are earning the princely minimum wage of $30 per hour.
If they want international information about poverty they can go to the many websites containing excellent articles about poverty, including those of the United Nations, all from the comfort of their homes with a glass of claret in hand.
hongkiejj@malaysiaboleh
hey lawmakers....don't forget your swimming trunks....and credit cards for shopping too...ya !! I suggest to bring along Po Chai yin...just incase you guys eat too much during the much anticipated fact finding trip on poverty....
HK-Explorer
You know it. They will stay in nice hotels, go out in groups for dinner at a nice Japanese restaurant. Ensure they get some shopping in.
I am not quite sure what kind of facts they will find in the meetings they have with breakfast, morning coffee break, lunch, afternoon break etc..
I have been taken out by groups on so called knowledge sharing trips before and I learnt where all the good restaurants are. At least mine were paid for by a corporation and not public $.
These are nothing more than fun perks of the job that legislators give each other. They should just call them what they are and let the public decide if they get the perks or not.
maecheung
It's outrageous that they even need a fact finding trip at all! As IRDHK suggested, they should live in a HK cage home or subdivided flat instead, this will give them the FACTS. What a waste of taxpayers' money!
HK-Explorer
They should do a week long fact finding trip and live in a HK cage home. Live of exactly what the HK poor live off. This will give them allot more facts than going to Japan. I would also think the HK people would support them if they wanted to extend their trip and stay 2 weeks in a cage home.
bluefirestorm
It is still an outrage. This is nothing but a junket for these lawmakers.
I doubt if any lawmaker would join a poverty fact finding trip if it involved them to go live in exact poverty circumstance that they are suppose to have some "fact finding" (let us say some slum area).
How many lawmakers will stay in a HK caged home for the duration of their poverty fact finding overseas trip?
Byebye
Is the HK$55,000 automatically budgeted to every lawmaker regardlessly? Is it necessary for ALL of them to travel just for facts finding? Why can't the Government invite experts or academics to visit Hong Kong to brief the lawmakers instead of them going? What is the end result expected if they visit Taiwan and Japan? How about drawing views and insight from the Hong Kong people at large?
johnyuan
The photo with the wine glasses suspended in a rack is telling. It is good that highlife law maker should do some fact finding about how to handle poverty and aging. But it has been for years doing that. What keeps the law makers from keep doing the finding? The wine?
chaz_hen
Again, as is common with all HK "leaders", back peddling and reactive behaviour after pi s s ing off the populace. When will these clowns ever learn?
John Adams
Good decision !
The food is much better in Japan and Taiwan ( fresh fish and sashimi instead of pickled herrings )
Also shorter flight time (considering the delegates hardly dare fly business class ) .
AND no jet lag.
This goes to show that our legislators are not stupid after all.
.
.
PS : Ever heard of the internet and Google ? (hint)
 
 
 
 
 

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