The ageing of Hong Kong's population in the past decade has not been significant, with the percentage of the elderly population rising by only three percentage points. However, government welfare expenditure on the elderly has increased steadily. The operating expenditure of the Social Welfare Department on services for the elderly rose from $1.44 billion in 1996-97 to $3.08 billion in 2006-07, an increase of over 100 per cent. The number of elderly Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) cases increased by more than 60 per cent over the same period, and related expenditure surged from $3.59 billion to $8.28 billion, an increase of more than 130 per cent.
If the existing social security system were to remain unchanged, it is expected that expenditure relating to the CSSA, the Old Age Allowance and the Disability Allowance for the elderly would increase from the present $13.1 billion to $31.8 billion in 2033, an increase of over 140 per cent in real terms.
Ensuring that the Government is financially capable of meeting the health and welfare expenditure for the elderly in need is an issue that the Government and the community as a whole must understand and address. We must make good use of every dollar from taxpayers and prepare for the future.