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Commission on Poverty convenes first meeting (with photos)

     The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, attended the beginning of the first meeting of the Commission on Poverty this afternoon (December 10) to share with members his aims in poverty alleviation as stated in his election manifesto. He encouraged members to draw on collective wisdom to review the poverty situation in Hong Kong and propose improvement policies and initiatives based on concrete work proposals.

     Chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, today's meeting involved a preliminary discussion on setting a poverty line in Hong Kong in accordance with the terms of reference of the Commission. This included examining the current poverty indicators in use in Hong Kong and making reference to experiences and practices of other places in setting a poverty line. The Commission recognised that a poverty line can be an effective tool for analysing the poverty situation and assessing the effectiveness of poverty alleviation policies. Members held the view that setting a poverty line requires objective data, in-depth study and thorough discussion, and more importantly having regard to the actual situation in the local community. The Commission therefore agreed that this important subject be followed up by the Social Security and Retirement Protection Task Force with a view to having preliminary proposals ready in 2013 as a working target.

     Discussion on how to promote wider social participation and social consensus on the work of alleviating poverty was also on today's agenda. Some members noted that the business sector has been actively involved in assisting the underprivileged and is willing to offer further support. As such, the Commission agreed that there is a need to enhance collaboration with the business sector, and that a service model comprising a tripartite partnership between the Government, the business sector and social organisations can better address the needs of the grass roots, enhance social mobility and promote a culture of caring enterprises and social participation.

     During the discussion, many members pointed out the pressing need to make progress in alleviating and preventing poverty, thus suggesting that the Commission should make full use of the Community Care Fund to provide immediate relief for the underprivileged and grass-roots families as well as to supplement the inadequacy of the existing supportive network. Members hoped that the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund to be established later could encourage different sectors of the community, in particular young people, to build careers through innovation and the development of local creative entrepreneurship, with a view to improving the poverty situation in Hong Kong in the long term.

     The Commission expressed its high regard for promoting interaction with the public and the stakeholders so as to build public consensus in carrying out the task of poverty alleviation.

     In addition to maintaining close liaison with the Subcommittee on Poverty under the House Committee of the Legislative Council, the Commission, following its first meeting today, is going to launch a dedicated website to introduce its work and provide a platform for members to share their views and to gauge public opinion. Such a move will enhance interaction with the public and provide collective wisdom in the work of poverty alleviation.

     Lastly, the Commission plans to conduct district visits on a monthly basis to get in touch with different sections of society and listen to public views directly.

Ends/Monday, December 10, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:15


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