Allowances for the elderly should be increased, most legislators demanded in the first day's debate on the 1997-98 Budget yesterday. The surplus of $15.1 billion and the accumulated reserve of about $330 billion by July 1 should mean the Government does more for the 100,000-plus elderly on public assistance, they said. Dr Yeung Sum, vice-chairman of the Democratic Party, expressed disappointment at the failure to increase social security payments for the elderly. He said it was an affront the elderly only get an average $30 a day under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) scheme, urging Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to make a clear commitment. His views were shared by Liberal Party chairman Allen Lee Peng-fei, who said: 'The most disappointing aspect of this Budget is on the CSSA.' He said he was puzzled that the Government, with its huge surplus, had refused to increase social security payments for the elderly in real terms. Ip Kwok-him of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, said: 'Did the Financial Secretary put himself in the elderly's shoes? Can he imagine how the single elderly cut their expenses on basic necessities to make ends meet? 'To the elderly who rely on the CSSA, the Budget only gives sorrow.' Unionist Lee Cheuk-yan urged members not to support the Budget if the Government declined to raise the monthly allowance for single elderly by $300 to about $2,300. But pro-Beijing member Lo Suk-ching said it was understandable for the Government to cut spending on welfare because it had increased too much last year. He said it would hinder the operation of the post-handover government if the Budget was sent back to the Joint Liaison Group. 'We should ask the SAR government for additional funding rather than vote down the Budget,' he said. Independent Eric Li Ka-cheung proposed the Government set up a $30 billion fund to improve the elderly's living standards, and a $50 billion reserve for the overall railway development plan. The debate continues today. Officials will respond next week.