88. We strive for economic development to better people’s livelihood. To this end, while following our established strategy of “Market Leads, Government Facilitates”, we endeavour to provide a platform for building social capital so that the “big society” between the market and the Government may flourish.
89. The Community Investment and Inclusion Fund was set up in 2002 to promote social capital development through encouraging mutual support in the neighbourhood, community participation and cross-sectoral partnerships. Since its establishment, the Fund has subsidised 238 projects rolled out by more than 130 organisations involving over 560 000 participants. There have been notable achievements in capacity building, enhancement of interpersonal relationship and development of community networks. I propose to inject an additional $200 million into the Fund to ensure that it can continue to perform its social function in furthering social capital development at the district level.
90. Since its establishment in 2011, the Community Care Fund (CCF) has launched over ten assistance programmes, benefiting several hundred thousands of people. Such programmes include the provision of a lunch subsidy for students from low-income families, and a subsidy for Hospital Authority’s patients using specified self-financed cancer drugs. Initiatives can be implemented on a pilot basis under the CCF to help the Government identify measures to be incorporated into its regular assistance and service programmes. Upon examining the effectiveness of individual programmes, we shall decide the appropriate ones to be incorporated into the Government’s regular assistance programmes, subject to the views of the Steering Committee on the CCF. I shall make the corresponding financial arrangements.
91. Last year, I asked the HKMC to study the feasibility of establishing a microfinance scheme in Hong Kong to assist people who may wish to start their own businesses or take self-enhancement training but cannot do so due to a lack of financial means or difficulties in obtaining loans from traditional finance sources. Having considered the results of the study, I decided to commission the HKMC to introduce a three-year pilot scheme in co-ordination and collaboration with banks, voluntary organisations and other stakeholders. The scheme will be operated on a self-financing basis with supporting services provided to make microfinance more viable. The maximum loan amount of the pilot scheme will be capped at $100 million tentatively. The target borrowers are business starters, self-employed persons and people who wish to receive training, enhance their skills or obtain professional qualifications for self-improvement. The repayment period will be as long as five years and the interest rate will be set with reference to that of the personal loans charged by banks in general. The HKMC will announce the details in due course.