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SLW on Work Incentive Transport Subsidy Scheme

     Following is the transcript (English portion) of remarks by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, on the Work Incentive Transport Subsidy Scheme at a media stand-up today (February 17):

     When the Government introduced the Work Incentive Transport Subsidy (WITS) Scheme, our objective was quite clear, i.e. to ease the travel expense burden on low-income earners and also promote sustained employment.

     Right from the very beginning, our target was to roll out the scheme as soon as possible for the benefit of our many grass root workers.
     To this end, I have been in close contact with different political parties and Legislative Council members in the past few days, to solicit their support for the Government proposal.  

     To avoid undue delay in implementing the Scheme, having considered the views expressed, the Government is now taking the initiative to further enhance the Scheme with two significant improvements:

     First, we propose to further raise the income limit for two-member households to $12,000 from the original $8,500.  The enhanced package as announced last week is $10,000, now we move a step further to raise even higher to $12,000. This will benefit households with both employed members earning the statutory minimum wage, who mainstream public opinion considered should deserve flexible handling. The revised income limit represents 84% of the median income for two-member households.  

     Secondly, to cater for the special needs of part-time workers, especially grass roots women workers and domestic assistants, we propose to provide a half-rate subsidy of $300 to those who work less than 72 hours but at least 36 hours per month.

     These two major relaxation measures will bring the total number of potential eligible employees up to 436,000. This is an addition of 50,000 persons over the enhanced scheme which I announced last week, and an increase of more than 100,000 from the original proposal announced last December.

     The Government's financial commitment over three years would then increase to around $4.8 billion, a surge of more than $1 billion over the original proposal.

     We will conduct a comprehensive review of the Scheme three years after implementation.  A mid-term review will be carried out having regard to the experience gained during the first year of operation.  

     The latest improvements reflect, I must stress, the Government's proactive and people-based approach in addressing issues of public concern. It also demonstrates our willingness and readiness to walk an extra mile to improve the livelihood of our grass roots citizens.

     I sincerely appeal to Legislative Council members and political parties to support this enhanced package and give the proposal a greenlight when it is put to the Finance Committee for approval, so that we can kick-off the Scheme without any further delay in October this year for the benefit of over 430,000 Hong Kong citizens.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Thursday, February 17, 2011
Issued at HKT 15:09


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