Infant milk powder confiscated at the Hong Kong-mainland border will be given to food banks, the welfare chief said yesterday at a conference discussing how to tackle poverty.
Unopened cans of formula discarded on the Hong Kong side of border checkpoints because of the two-tin limit would be distributed to emergency food-bank networks across the city.
"We believe it won't be a small amount," said Labour and Welfare Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, although there were no figures of how many cans had been confiscated since the two-tin policy took effect in January.
He said arrangements had already been made with the Security Bureau, which is in charge of customs control.
Cheung said his bureau would submit a funding application of HK$200 million to the Legislative Council's finance committee in June for the short-term food-bank project - a figure included in this year's budget.
He said that for those receiving emergency support from the food banks, handouts would now last up to eight weeks instead of six. The government would raise funding by 10 per cent for charities involved in the project. The variety and type of food available would also be increased.
He added that the five food distribution networks would now go up to seven, with the New Territories West and Kowloon West networks each split into two to reach more people.
The short-term food-bank programme has benefited 118,000 people since it was started in 2009. Government spending on welfare increased by HK$13 billion to HK$55.7 billion this year.