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LCQ9: Public consultation on retirement protection

     Following is a question by the Hon Chan Han-pan and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (February 3):

Question :

     Recently, the Commission on Poverty published a consultation paper on retirement protection and launched a six-month public consultation exercise.  At present, various sectors of society have not yet reached a clearer consensus on this highly important and controversial subject. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) how the authorities, when conducting the consultation exercise on retirement protection system, extensively reach out to various strata, sectors, age groups and organisations to gather public opinions, so as to enable various sectors of society to forge a consensus expeditiously;

(2) whether the authorities will compose an interim report on the consultation work to give an account of the progress of and preliminary results attained by the consultation work; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(3) as it takes time for various sectors of society to forge a consensus on the retirement protection proposals and for such proposals to be implemented, whether the Government will consider implementing less-controversial short-term measures, such as (i) abolishing the requirement that elderly people aged between 65 and 69 must pass the assets tests for them to be granted normal old age allowance (commonly known as "fruit grant"), and (ii) relaxing the requirement on asset limits for Old Age Living Allowance, so that more elderly people will benefit from the relevant welfare measures; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply :


     My reply to the Hon Chan Han-pan's question is set out below.

(1) On December 22 last year, the Commission on Poverty (CoP) chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS) launched a six-month public engagement exercise to gauge public views on how to improve Hong Kong's retirement protection system. The discussion on the future development of retirement protection will have a significant and far-reaching impact on Hong Kong's society. The CoP agreed that two approaches be adopted for promoting an in-depth, informed, objective and rational discussion of retirement protection issues by the community, namely, enhancing community understanding, as well as promoting public participation and facilitating the community to arrive at a consensus on retirement protection options.

     In respect of enhancing community understanding, we have carried out public education and publicity through various channels, including distributing the consultation document and its executive summary and related leaflets, displaying posters, broadcasting Announcements in the Public Interests on television and radio, producing short videos and setting up thematic website and Facebook Page with a view to reaching out to the community widely, and encouraging public to make an informed discussion and to express their views on the subject.

     In respect of promoting public participation and facilitating the community to build consensus, we has been conducting different types of public engagement activities, including:

(a) conducting five public forums: to provide open platforms for the public to express their views directly to the officials and members of the CoP attending the public forum. These five public forums will be held in five regions (i.e. Hong Kong Island, Kowloon East, Kowloon West, New Territories East and New Territories West). Amongst them, the first forum was held on January 23 this year at Leighton Hill Community Hall in Causeway Bay;

(b) receiving views from members of the Legislative Council (LegCo): CS, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare (SLW) and the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury attended the special meeting of the LegCo House Committee held on January 8 this year. SLW and relevant officials also attended the meeting of the LegCo Subcommittee on Retirement Protection on December 30 last year to listen to the views of those organisations and individuals attending the meeting;

(c) attending 18 District Council meetings: CS and SLW met with the Chairmen and Vice-chairmen of the 18 District Councils on January 21 this year. SLW and the Under Secretary for Labour and Welfare will attend the meetings of the 18 District Councils later to introduce the consultation document on retirement protection and receive views;

(d) conducting consultation sessions with government advisory bodies: the secretariat of the CoP will attend meetings of various advisory bodies to collect views from Social Welfare Advisory Committee, Elderly Commission, Labour Advisory Board, Commission on Youth, Women's Commission, etc.;

(e) attending meetings of other organisations on invitation: members of the CoP will attend the seminars organised by business groups, trade unions and other organisations;

(f) conducting stakeholders meetings: meetings will be conducted to collect views from labour unions, employers' associations, non-governmental welfare organisations, concern groups, think tanks and academia;

(g) conducting focus group meetings with participants on a random sample basis: to help understand the views of the public, including people from different age groups, on the subject of retirement protection. Interactive focus group discussions will be held with participants drawn by random sampling; and

(h) discussion sessions with the youths: CS, SLW and other officials will attend consultation meetings and talks organised for the youth.

(2) The Labour and Welfare Bureau has commissioned an independent consultant to assist in arranging various public engagement activities.  The consultant is also required to record, organise and analyse the views collected from various channels during the public consultation period.  The consultant will prepare a full report after the end of the consultation period.

(3) The retirement protection system in Hong Kong is based on the multi-pillar model advocated by the World Bank; and the social security system belongs to one of the pillars (i.e. "zero pillar"). At present, the social security system in Hong Kong includes the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme, Old Age Living Allowance, Old Age Allowance, Guangdong Scheme, and Disability Allowance. These schemes, which adopted different allowance levels and eligibility criteria (including residence requirement, means tests, etc.), are designed to support different elderly groups. We welcome views from the community on how to enhance the poverty alleviation function of the "zero pillar".

Ends/Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:04


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