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Commission on Poverty convenes second meeting in its second term

     The Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, chaired the second meeting of the Commission on Poverty (CoP) in its second term this afternoon (February 3).  At the meeting, the Chief Secretary for Administration briefed members on the poverty alleviation initiatives announced by the Chief Executive in his 2015 Policy Address.  Members also deliberated on the next step for retirement protection.   

     Members took note of the poverty alleviation initiatives put forward in the 2015 Policy Address.  The working priorities for poverty alleviation in 2015 are to continue to fully implement the poverty alleviation blueprint as announced in the 2014 Policy Address, explore ways to further improve retirement protection, as well as capitalise on the Community Care Fund (CCF) and the Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund to enhance the support to the underprivileged.

     Members also noted that the funding for the Low-income Family Allowance (LIFA) proposed in the Policy Address last year was approved by the Legislative Council in mid-January.  The Labour and Welfare Bureau is proceeding with the preparation work for the LIFA in full steam, with a view to launching the LIFA in the second quarter of 2016.  Before the implementation of the LIFA, the CCF would consider providing a one-off special subsidy for primary and secondary students on full grant under the School Textbook Assistance Scheme in the 2015/16 school year.

     At the meeting, members continued the discussion on the framework and arrangements of the public consultation on retirement protection, and reached preliminary consensus in a few areas.  Firstly, members considered that the consultation document should clearly explain the Government's stance on the future development of retirement protection in Hong Kong, but at the same time should not pre-empt the discussion on universal retirement protection in the community.  On this basis, members agreed that universal retirement protection should be covered in the consultation document.  Secondly, to facilitate focused discussion and analysis, most members agreed to present one single universal retirement protection proposal as the basis for analysis in the consultation document.  Thirdly, members considered that the consultation document should contain a concrete proposal on the means-tested non-universal retirement protection option providing targeted assistance for the elderly in need to facilitate public discussion.  The consultation document should also set out a simple and clear analytical framework for comparing the universal retirement protection proposal and the non-universal retirement protection proposal in various aspects such as their rationales, contents, implications and implementation, in order to assist the public to make a choice.

     Given that the Census and Statistics Department would release the updated population and labour projection sometime in the middle of this year, members agreed to make use of the latest projection figures and the projection method adopted in the report submitted by the consultancy team led by Professor Nelson Chow, to update the projection of the relevant proposal, as well as to explore the feasibility of extending the projection period.  

     To take the preparation work forward, members agreed to set up a working group under the CoP.  Having considered the lead time required for preparing the consultation document, the CoP expected the public consultation to be launched in the fourth quarter of this year.

     In addition, the CoP noted that the Subcommittee on Poverty under the Legislative Council passed a motion regarding the setting up of a task force on poverty alleviation at the district level under the CoP.  Members also learnt that there are existing mechanisms in the Government dealing with the district-oriented poverty alleviation work, including the development of bazaars.  The CoP will invite the Home Affairs Department to brief members on district-based poverty alleviation work.  The CoP agreed that it was not necessary to set up a dedicated task force under the CoP to follow up on the matters concerned at this stage.

Ends/Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Issued at HKT 20:17


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