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Speech by SLW at ACCA Hong Kong Charity Fun Day

     Following is the speech (English translation) by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, at ACCA Hong Kong Charity Fun Day today (December 14):

President Ms Kelly Chan, the Honourable Mr Paul Chan, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

     It gives me great pleasure to join you in the opening ceremony of the 12th ACCA Charity Fun Day.  I am honoured to meet and speak to such a distinguished audience that includes elite professionals from the accountancy and welfare sector.  Today is the Charity Fun Day.  Let us set aside our busy schedules and join in the fun and games while raising money to help the vulnerable and disadvantaged in our society.

     Apart from promoting the professional development of accountancy, the ACCA Hong Kong is also noted for its concern for the welfare of the disadvantaged.  And this Fun Day is held to promote social inclusion, as advocated by the Government.  All of us, whatever our ranks and positions in society, belong to the same community.  We all live together and should support each other with a ready helping hand, particularly to those who needs assistance.

     This Charity Fun Day has become an annual gala event of ACCA Hong Kong.  In the past 11 years, the Fun Day has supported as many as 23 non-governmental organisations and self-help groups to organise different programmes that cater for the needs of the disadvantaged.

     The theme of this year's Fun Day is "Poverty Relief".  Of the three designated beneficiaries, two are dedicated to helping the elderly to age in the community.  Ageing in place is a fond wish for most elders.  To live under the care of their family and kin in a familiar neighbourhood and enjoy their leisure time with neighbours and friends is also conducive to their physical and mental well-being.

     Elderly care has always been a key policy of the Government.  Our elderly worked hard in their younger days to lay the foundation on which Hong Kong has prospered.  Therefore, we have made it our mission to ensure that our elders enjoy their golden years in comfort with "a sense of security, a sense of belonging and a feeling of health and worthiness".  But given our ageing population, the demand for community service for the elderly is set to increase in the coming years.  Indeed, the Government has made the sustainability of public resources dedicated to elderly services its key policy focus in order to safeguard the quality of life for the elderly.  

     For 2007-08, the expenditure on social security, elderly services and medical service enjoyed by the elderly came to around $31.7 billion, accounting for 16% of its total recurrent expenditure.  In other words, the Government invested $16 in the elders for every $100 it spent, with a significant percentage of which going into elderly care services.

     For the current year, we have allocated an additional $60 million in total in recurrent funding for elderly centres to strengthen outreach programmes for singleton and hidden elders and to enhance referral and counselling services for elders as well as the processing of applications for subsidised long-term care services.  As a result, we have reached out to and provided appropriate service to more than 7,000 singleton and hidden elders over the first nine months of this year.  To further assist frail elders to age in the community, we will add a further 810 places for home care services starting this month, representing an increase of 21% over the 3,780 places now available. There will also be an additional 80 elderly day care places in the next financial year.

     Caring for the elderly is not the sole responsibility of the Government but is an obligation for us all.  And I must thank ACCA Hong Kong for inviting me to participate in this very meaningful event, which offers fun and laughter as well as an opportunity to help the elderly.  

     I wish you all a very enjoyable fun day.  Thank you.

Ends/Sunday, December 14, 2008
Issued at HKT 11:00


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