Transcript of remarks by SLW on Budget initiatives

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong, on initiatives in the 2018-19 Budget after attending a radio programme this morning (March 4):

Reporter: Mr Law, you mentioned putting some social services in industrial buildings. Could you tell us more about the design, for example, what kind of services are you talking about and any timeline? Second question about what you said during the programme, you said that there had not been enough interaction between the government and the public when the FS designed the Budget. What would have been different, you think, if there were enough interaction and how can the government do more interaction?

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: Let's take the first question on the issue of lack of premises. Most of our welfare facilities are built on or using existing government, institution or community sites, the so-called GIC sites. It really takes time to consult, design and develop and so forth, but the shortage of such services is immense. We really need time to develop those facilities so that we can provide sufficient services to the community.

     So there is one option. One option is to acquire existing premises, no matter it is commercial or industrial where some of those services can be suitably placed on these kinds of premises. Definitely we cannot place residential services in industrial buildings, but there are other service types we can use (such premises). Definitely we can rent them, but the other option is to acquire such premises. We are looking for opportunities and there is no definite timeline in doing that. Whenever there would be an opportunity, we will try to grasp it.

     Relating to the issue of the interactive process, we had a lot of consultation during the formulation of the Policy Address and the formulation of the Budget. However, in those consultation processes, we basically adopt what we call a listening mode, to listen. Although sometimes we clarify, sometimes we state the existing policies. But when we listen to some of those ideas as proposed by the public, by political parties, we have to take it back and consider them. Usually the time is not sufficient for more iterative kind of interactions. So, after thorough discussion within the government, we put up the Budget.

     There is always a possibility that people in the community can think of something that we could not think of in the formulation process. In fact, in this kind of sharing of prosperity, with the surplus this financial year, it has already been mentioned in the Budget speech of the Financial Secretary that he would invite the Community Care Fund to consider launching a so-called "N-nothing" programme. But I hope to take this "N-nothing" programme with a more dynamic concept, rather than something we have done a couple of years ago. Although there are some similarities between the measures as adopted by this Budget as compared to the previous ones, they are still different. Some of the measures are different in levels, like the tax rebate is much higher than the last time. So we have to reconsider what will be the best way to fill the gaps of the existing Budget. We understand that there is always a possibility in the Budget that we need some measures and support from the Community Care Fund to fill the gaps.

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

Ends/Sunday, March 4, 2018
Issued at HKT 14:13