• Mon
  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Updated: 3:38am
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CSSA bill after court's decision will impact budget: John Tsang Chun-wah

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 December, 2013, 5:40am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 December, 2013, 5:40am

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said the government would "inevitably" foot a bigger bill for welfare payments after the top court last week dismissed a seven-year residency requirement that had excluded new immigrants from social welfare benefits.

"After the verdict was handed down … I immediately asked my colleagues to do assessments, especially [on] the possible impact in the long run," Tsang wrote on his official blog yesterday.

The Court of Final Appeal ruled that the requirement for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance applicants to have lived in Hong Kong for seven years was unconstitutional.

"Unlike other items of public expenditure … say, funding to [the] Hospital Authority or schools, which would have an upper cap or need to be prioritised given the limited resources, CSSA is a basic welfare," he wrote.

"Therefore, after the ruling … our spending on social welfare will inevitably see an increase.

"When I work out the budget for next fiscal year, there will also be a need to make adjustments."

Welfare has always been among the major outlays of public resources. In the 2013-14 budget, spending on social welfare was set at HK$61.2 billion, more than one-fifth of recurrent government expenditure.

Meanwhile, Liberal Party youth committee chairman Lee Tsz-king yesterday came under fire from fellow panellists on an RTHK public affairs programme.

"It is legal, but it is not reasonable," Lee said of the court's ruling on the seven-year requirement. "The Liberal Party, as a right-wing party, opposes new arrivals enjoying any social welfare such as the CSSA. Why should we give the new arrivals money when they have not contributed to Hong Kong?"

Panellist Eric Cheung Tat-ming, senior lecturer in law at the University of Hong Kong, said many Hongkongers had not worked before receiving CSSA. HKU associate professor of social work Law Chi-kwong said the remarks showed the Liberals were an "extreme right-wing" party.

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This article is now closed to comments

johnyuan
FS John Tsang, so let us know what possible impact in the long run. Let the public discuss it. As a FS, I don’t think you should tell the public how money is to be spent. It is CY Leung’s responsibility who as a CE he must take control of government budget to implement his policies. Take a clue from Xi Jinping who is taking over economic policy making while being the leader of the country.
johnyuan
"It is legal, but it is not reasonable," Lee said of the court's ruling on the seven-year requirement. "The Liberal Party, as a right-wing party, opposes new arrivals enjoying any social welfare such as the CSSA. Why should we give the new arrivals money when they have not contributed to Hong Kong?"
.
A society is not the sum of its parts. It is more. Or less. If we don’t extend help to people in need Hong Kong is a less modern society. We will continue to have divided flats with children growing up in a less equitable environment. The opposition to help is just problem delayed. The Liberal Party has been looking for cheap labors and their opposition is just to enhance its justification in the eye of the public that the imported labors are really cheap. The public is subsidizing the cheap labors otherwise.
.
Hong Kong government must review its 150 immigrants daily for family reunion. Its two decades old. We must honestly address this policy that the policy is to the benefit to Hong Kong for the entire society.
.
It is still a valid policy if Hong Kong as a whole is more than the sum of its parts. If not, scrape it.
chuchu59
TSANG is saying he is about to assess the impact on the court's ruling. I think the assessment should have been done even before the case went to court. The CSSA Scheme is implemented by the government has to consider whether the whole scheme is outdated and unsustainable. If so, revamp the whole thing. As John stated in the previous post, let the public discuss. The current government lacks the guts and brains to tackle the subject. Don't make a mess out of the whole thing.
joyalsofi
" 'Unlike other items of public expenditure … say, funding to [the] Hospital Authority or schools, which would have an upper cap or need to be prioritised given the limited resources, CSSA is a basic welfare,' "
So good to know that public funding for public needs such as health and schools can have an upper cap or be prioritized but not so of a bridge to Zhuhai, or a third runway, or an artificial beach, or WKAD or any other scheme that comes back with cost overruns. And this while at the same time asking for funding subsidies for private health insurance at a cost far in excess of the likely cost of increased welfare payments.

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