Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung yesterday would not be drawn into a promise to legislators of extra support for the government's proposed HK$18 billion research endowment fund, following the global financial meltdown.
The fund, a replacement for earmarked government research grants, was expected to yield a 5 per cent return on its investments that would generate HK$900 million a year - a 50 per cent increase from the 2007-2008 research grants of HK$612 million.
But an Education Bureau paper presented to the Legislative Council's education panel yesterday said income from the investment would provide HK$506 million a year from 2010, and 'up to another HK$200 million' for theme-based research.
Earmarked research grants for this academic year have been increased to HK$656 million, but are due to fall to HK$606 million next year, according to bureau figures.
Panel chairwoman Cyd Ho Sau-lan asked whether the bureau would be injecting more cash into the fund to ensure a certain level of yield.
Mr Suen advised taking 'one step at a time'. 'If the situation is as bad next year ...we will have to see what we do at the time,' he said.