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2010-11 Policy Address by Chief Executive (7)

Ageing Population

65. As post-War "baby-boomers" approach retirement age, our population aged 65 or above is expected to surge from about 900 000 at present to 2.1 million by 2030.  This increase will be equal to 90% of the net increase in total population over the same period.  The rapidly ageing population will bring challenges to our elderly services.  We must get prepared.

Old Age Allowance

66. Many people suggest that the permissible limit of absence from Hong Kong for the Old Age Allowance (OAA) should be relaxed so that elderly people can enjoy greater flexibility in taking up residence, travelling or visiting relatives in the Mainland.  After careful consideration, we propose to substantially relax the limit of absence from Hong Kong for the OAA from the present 240 days to 305 days a year, thus enabling elderly recipients to receive a full-year allowance as long as they have resided in Hong Kong for 60 days a year.  The new arrangement will also apply to the Disability Allowance.

67. There are also views that all restrictions on absence from Hong Kong both before application and after approval should be removed.  As a judicial review of the existing policy is underway, we will consider the way forward when the situation becomes clear.

Facilitating Senior Citizens' Retirement in the Mainland

68. As the relationship between Hong Kong and Guangdong grows closer, some of our senior citizens want to retire in Guangdong.  There is also a suggestion in the community that the Government should introduce a maintenance allowance for our senior citizens who have retired.  This has legal, financial and technical implications that require detailed examination.  I have asked the Secretary for Labour and Welfare to study further the feasibility of such arrangements.

Population Policy Review

69. The Steering Committee on Population Policy, chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration, has been closely monitoring the latest population projections and co-ordinating the efforts of various bureaux to formulate related measures.  I have asked the committee to focus its study on two topics.  First, it will examine ways to facilitate and support our elderly people to settle in the Mainland after retirement if they so wish.  Second, the approximately 30 000 children born in Hong Kong to Mainland women annually in recent years are Hong Kong permanent residents, although most of them live in the Mainland after birth.  The committee will study in detail the ramifications of these children returning to Hong Kong to study and live.

Community and Home Care Services

70. The Government will significantly increase subsidised community care places for the elderly next year.  We also expect to launch the pilot scheme on home care services early next year to provide "tailor-made" services for elderly people on the waiting list for nursing home places.  Furthermore, the pilot Integrated Discharge Support Programme for Elderly Patients has been well received.  Through collaboration between the welfare and healthcare sectors, the programme has been effective in helping elderly patients discharged from the hospital to recover at home.  We plan to make it a regular service and extend its coverage from the current three districts to all districts in two years' time.  We will also consider offering more tax concessions as incentives for the working population to live with their elderly parents.  This is in line with our policy objective of encouraging elderly people to age at home.

Residential Care Service

71. For frail elderly people in need of residential care, we will provide additional places by building new residential care homes and making full use of the space in existing homes.  We will also increase the supply of higher-quality places under the Enhanced Bought Place Scheme.

72. The public is increasingly concerned about the proper care of elderly people suffering from dementia. We will provide or increase relevant supplements for subsidised residential care homes and day care centres for the elderly to render more targeted services to such patients.

Elderly Healthcare Voucher Pilot Scheme

73. The Government launched the three-year Elderly Healthcare Voucher Pilot Scheme last year to subsidise elderly people aged 70 or above to use private primary care services.  An interim review is now underway, and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.  We will earmark $1 billion to extend or enhance the pilot scheme having regard to review findings.

Overall Strategy

74. In the short to medium term, we will increase the supply of various subsidised elderly care services to cope with a surging elderly population.  In addition, we are jointly examining with the Elderly Commission how new thinking may be applied to map out the service and financing modes for elderly care in the future, including ways to enhance support for elderly people to age at home.  In the long term, we need to study from the perspective of regional integration ways to assist elderly people who wish to retire in the Mainland.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Issued at HKT 11:52


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