Candidates are closely monitoring their Legislative Council election expenses in light of rising inflation. Given the cap on campaign spending under election rules, leading parties with deep pockets may have to scale down their publicity, while smaller parties are seeking ways to reduce their election costs. Due to inflation, the government has raised the maximum amount of election expenses for geographical and functional constituencies by 5 per cent for the September poll. The maximum amount that can be claimed in a geographical constituency is HK$2.1 million, but the figure claimed depends on the constituency's size. However, some candidates said the increase would not offset the rising cost of promotional items and election-related activities, which had risen by at least 10 per cent. Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, who is contesting the New Territories West geographical constituency, said the party's election publicity had been scaled down this year because of the rising cost of paper. 'We cannot stop distributing handbills, as it is hard to reach our voters. But both the quantity and variety of our handbills have been reduced to maintain better control of the cost,' he said. The party's election teams were spending more time searching for lower prices to ensure campaign costs did not exceed the spending cap, Mr Tam said. An election advertisements printer said paper costs had increased by 15 to 20 per cent in the past year, while the cost of printing remained virtually unchanged. The Civic Party's Thomas Yu Kwun-wai, who is on the party's ticket in Kowloon East after Alan Leong Kah-kit, expected the cost of printing leaflets and fliers to possibly be HK$100,000 more than for the previous election in 2004. Ronald Chan Ngok-pang, who is joining the ticket headed by Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee on Hong Kong Island, said use of the internet to promote policy had increased because election advertising costs had risen by at least 20 per cent in the past year. Candidates from smaller parties with limited financial resources are working hard to cut expenses. Instead of sending election fliers to all voters, The Frontier's Ricky Or Yiu-lam is planning to deliver only one set of election advertisements to each family. 'Even the choice of paper for leaflets is limited to cheaper types.' Unionist Lee Cheuk-yan, who will be defending his New Territories West seat, said he would not advertise on buses this year. 'I did advertise on buses in the last election, but this time, to offset the increased cost of printing leaflets, which is at least HK$70,000 more than expected, I have had to abandon this plan,' he said.