High compensation payments have been handed out by the courts to several accident victims in recent years, but collecting the money can be a different matter. Almost as common are cases where the claimant has been injured but the employer, having failed to insure its workers as legally required, either lacks money to pay adequate compensation or shuts down the company and disappears. Until now, these victims have been able to appeal to the Employees Compensation Assistance Fund Board, and some have won awards of more than $10 million. But a number of big payouts have reduced its coffers to $11 million and brought it to the brink of crisis. If, as seems likely, the Government decides to cap compensation payments at $4 million, those who suffer the most severe injuries will be at the greatest disadvantage. In Hong Kong, $4 million is not a great sum for a young father permanently paralysed who will need nursing care and a specially adapted home for the rest of his life. Another alternative proposed by the Government is to increase employer contributions to the fund from the current one per cent of insurance premium to 4.4 per cent. But this is strongly opposed by employers, who already face extra overheads because of Mandatory Provident Fund contributions. Moreover, it would seem unfair to ask law-abiding employers to pay more to finance payouts which should have been the responsibility of unscrupulous ones. However, providing adequate security for badly injured workers must be the paramount consideration. Topping up the fund by increasing employer contributions seems the least bad option. Raising the contribution rate from one to 4.4 per cent would be a big jump in the current climate. But a smaller and temporary increase to, say, two or three per cent should be more acceptable. To tide over the fund's short-term fiscal crisis, a possible solution would be to disburse the payouts by instalments. In the long-term, tougher enforcement action must be taken to ensure all employers abide by the law by taking out insurance for their employees. The fact that so many injured workers have been unable to get payouts is evidence of lax enforcement.