Elderly subsidies: Where’s the cash coming from ?

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 March, 2016, 12:15am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 March, 2016, 12:15am

I am writing because I do not agree with those who say the government should offer more generous subsidies to meet the medical needs of senior citizens in Hong Kong.

As a student, I am really concerned about the future of our city. The government should strike a balance between expenditure and revenue to maintain our competitiveness.

John Tsang Chun-wah, the Financial Secretary, pushed through a “sugar rush” budget last month (“Sweet and sour budget”, February 26), as well as setting up future funds to generate long-term and stable income through investments. In short, he is trying his best to satisfy the principle stated in the Basic Law Article 107 of “keeping expenditure within the limits of revenue in drawing up its budget”.

Nevertheless, if Hong Kong really needs to offer more subsidies to the elderly, where can the revenue come from to meet the huge amount of recurring expense? Hong Kong is facing the problem of an ageing population, so elderly subsidies will constantly increase.

One solution is expanding the tax base but that would cause a great burden to all workers. Does it mean that all the citizens have a duty to take care of the elderly’s health, while some people are still unable to live in a humane environment? If not, foreign companies here will have to bear the burden.

Hong Kong has been an attractive place to invest, as well as an international financial centre, because of its simple and low tax system.

The elderly have been working over the past decades to create a better Hong Kong, so it would be ironic if the advantageous environment is indirectly destroyed by an expanded tax base.

More subsidies is not the sole solution. One better option would be to provide more carers for the elderly.

Margaret Chau Suet-ha, Sha Tin