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Steering Committee on Population Policy convenes fourth meeting

     The Steering Committee on Population Policy (SCPP)held its fourth meeting this afternoon (June 25).

     Following on from its discussion at the last meeting, the SCPP further deliberated the One-way Permit (OWP) scheme. Members noted that the Government saw no justification or need to change the existing OWP scheme at this stage, but would continue to exchange views on the relevant policy with the Mainland authorities and reflect to them the views of the various sectors of the Hong Kong community, as appropriate.

     Members also noted that since April 2011 some 26 000 "overage children" of Hong Kong residents (i.e. Mainland residents who were under the age of 14 when their natural fathers or mothers obtained their first Hong Kong identity cards on or before November 1, 2001) came to settle in Hong Kong on the strength of the OWP. Their average age was generally higher than other new arrivals and the majority of them had attained secondary education. Members suggested that the Government should keep in view the number of "overage children" coming to settle in Hong Kong and the support services they might require to facilitate their integration into the community.

     Members were presented with the findings of the survey on "Family Planning Knowledge, Attitude and Practice in Hong Kong 2012" released by the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong. The findings revealed that the proportion of women desiring a child or another child rose significantly from 12.7 per cent in 2007 to 20.2 per cent in 2012, the highest since 1992. The findings also showed that 39 per cent of female respondents would like to have more children. The main reasons given by those who did not wish to have any children and those who desired only one child were the heavy responsibility and financial burden of raising children.

     Having studied the survey findings, members opined that childbirth cannot be encouraged solely by one-off financial incentives. The Government should work on various fronts to create a social environment which is conducive to setting up a family and raising children. This might include fostering a family-friendly working environment and culture, enhancement of and subsidies for education and child care services, and making available housing which is affordable and can meet family needs. However, any policy involving the Government giving out cash allowances or requiring employers to provide increased employee benefits would involve substantial public money and increased operating costs for enterprises and should, therefore, be handled with great care. Noting that the Central Policy Unit is conducting studies in this field, the SCPP agreed to seek the public's views on this aspect in the upcoming population policy public engagement exercise later in the year.

     The SCPP also discussed the preparatory work required for launching the public engagement exercise.

Ends/Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Issued at HKT 20:15


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