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Most elderly Hongkongers don’t plan to join life annuity scheme despite supporting idea: poll

Researcher notes public support ‘very high’ for plan targeting those unfamiliar with financial markets, but lawmaker says poor people left out

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 May, 2017, 8:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 May, 2017, 10:59pm

A survey has found most elderly people in Hong Kong do not intend to take part in the life annuity scheme proposed by the government’s mortgage corporation, even though more than half of those polled – as well as the majority of the population – actually “supported” the scheme.

The scheme would offer a monthly return of over HK$5,000 if participants put a million dollars into it.

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With a sample size of 751 people, the survey found 66 per cent of the population supported the scheme, with 19.9 per cent against it.

But among those aged 65 or above, only 37.3 per cent said they would join, with 62.8 per cent saying they would not.

In contrast, 58.3 per cent of respondents under 65 were likely to join, with only 41.7 per cent declining.

Professor Victor Zheng Wan-tai, assistant director of Chinese University’s Centre for Asian Studies, conducted the research and said public support was already “very high” considering that many government policies routinely draw strong opposition.

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“I think this scheme is relatively popular because its return is fairly good under the current very low interest rate environment,” he said.

As for the almost 20 per cent of people not supporting the scheme, Zheng said there were many Hongkongers who were skilled at investing and preferred to handle their own money.

Its return is fairly good under the current very low interest rate environment
Professor Victor Zheng Wan-tai, Chinese University

“But most people are not that familiar with the financial markets, so the scheme will be useful to them.”

Tourism lawmaker Yiu Si-wing thought the scheme would be popular with middle-class Hongkongers with spare cash, describing the yield as attractive and providing a steady income.

“If the current cap of a million dollars is expanded in future, the middle class may even prefer to put in two or three million dollars so that they would have maybe HK$15,000 a month to spend after retirement,” he said.

However, social welfare sector lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun said the scheme could not help poor people as they simply could not put up the money to start the scheme.

“Perhaps 30 per cent of retirees are living below the poverty line. They’re worried about their next meal. That is why this cannot be compared to a proper retirement protection scheme,” he said.