Transcript of remarks by SLW

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, before attending a public function this morning (July 6):

Reporter: About the Old Age Allowance, some DAB members actually suggested two days ago that maybe the government can implement also a Fujian scheme because they estimate that there are 15 000 old people living there. What is your saying on that? Would the government consider this?

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: We have considered this very carefully and have come to the conclusion that initially we should confine the scheme to Guangdong for various reasons. First of all, most of the Hong Kong elderly citizens, in fact they choose to retire in Guangdong. Also, given the geographical proximity between Hong Kong and Guangdong, it is easier for relatives to visit the elderly, particularly to pay them visits regularly and keep in touch with them, plus the fact that cross-border facilities between the two places have improved. Also, there is an agreement - the Hong Kong Guangdong agreement (the Framework Agreement on Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation) which provides a framework for us to operate. So, on this basis, we consider that initially we should confine the scheme to Guangdong as a start.

Reporter: About the environmental service contractors, why is it that the government would like to subsidise them before but not now.

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: The reason is very simple. It is actually the government's procurement policy, not so much the minimum wage policy as such. The rationale for topping up the allowance initially is because of the wide differentials between the minimum wage as a starting point at $28 an hour vis-à-vis the prevailing wages at that particular time. There was a pretty huge gap. But the $30 this time is only a two-dollar increase, and is considered to be generally modest. In fact, for longer-term contracts, they have already built in a clause to keep up with the inflation.

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

Ends/Saturday, July 6, 2013
Issued at HKT 14:42