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Budget Speech by the Financial Secretary (11)

Supporting Disadvantaged Groups

128. I now turn to my second area, that is, providing support for disadvantaged groups.  The Policy Address states that the Government should strengthen the family by formulating social policy and providing welfare services.  I will propose suitable measures in this Budget to help build a harmonious, family-based society.

129. We will support the further development of social enterprises through Budget initiatives and relevant financial policies, creating more job opportunities and promoting a caring culture in the community.  For instance, we have launched a pilot scheme whereby qualified social enterprises are given priority to bid for 38 Government cleansing contracts.  The Home Affairs Department is now formulating a social enterprise partnership scheme to support operators of social enterprises, enhance the competitiveness of such enterprises, and promote the partnership between non-government organisations, the business community and government departments.

Ceiling for Tax Deductible Donations

130. Charitable institutions give unstinting support to disadvantaged groups.  To encourage more generous charitable donations from the business community and the public, I propose to raise the ceiling for tax deductible donations under profits tax, salaries tax and tax under personal assessment from the present 25 per cent to 35 per cent of assessable profits or income.  This proposal will cost the Government about $80 million a year.

Family and Children

Day Foster Care and Child Care Services

131. Some parents are temporarily unable to take care of their children because they have to work away from home or for other reasons.  I understand their circumstances, and therefore propose to provide funding of $45 million over the next three years to strengthen day foster care services and to promote various types of child care services that offer greater flexibility to meet the needs of these parents.

Supporting Victims of Domestic Violence

132. To strengthen direct support to victims of domestic violence and families in need, I propose providing additional annual funding of about $40 million to increase the places of refuge centres for women, strengthen the Social Welfare Department's hotline services, sustain efforts in publicity campaigns and public education, and enhance the training of relevant front-line professionals.


Job Creation

133. Young people are the driving force for the future development of the community.  I hope that unemployed youths can obtain work experience and enhance their job-related skills to provide a solid foundation for future development.  The Policy Address announced that 3 000 three-year jobs will be provided for those aged between 15 and 29.  I propose to make a provision of about $1 billion over the next three years to create these jobs in collaboration with non-government organisations.

Tackling Drug Abuse

134. I am deeply concerned about the problem of psychotropic drug abuse by young people.  The high level inter-departmental task force led by the Secretary of Justice has conducted in-depth studies of the problem over the past few months and devised a series of initial measures that can be implemented in the short to medium term.  I will allocate additional resources of $53 million in 2008-09 to tackle this problem.

District Cyber Centres

135. To enable young people from poor families and other needy members of the community to access and use information technology and online services, with a view to narrowing the digital divide and helping them integrate into the information society, the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer will launch a pilot scheme to establish cyber centres in selected districts.  The business community will be invited to participate in the scheme by providing technical as well as software and hardware support.  The Government will work in partnership with community organisations in managing the centres.

Persons with Disabilities

Training and Residential Services

136. As regards support to persons with disabilities, I propose additional funding of about $100 million a year to offer 300 more pre-school training places, 450 more day training places and 490 more subvented residential places.  I also propose an additional provision of about $35 million a year to establish, following a district-based approach, 16 community support centres to strengthen one-stop services and support for persons with disabilities as well as their family members and caretakers.

Transport Support

137. To improve the Rehabus service, the Government will allocate about $20 million to acquire eight new Rehabuses and replace 24 old ones.

138. To further encourage disabled people to participate in activities away from home, I propose providing an additional supplement of $200 a month to Disability Allowance recipients aged between 12 and 64, and CSSA recipients in the same age group with 100 per cent disability.  It is estimated that this proposal, which involves expenditure of $230 million a year, will benefit 96 000 persons with disabilities.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Issued at HKT 12:12


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