The 2017-18 Budget
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Budget Speech

Upholding Social Justice and Sharing Fruits of Success

30.    Third, the Government must make good use of financial resources, with a view to building a fair and just society where people from all walks of life can share the fruits of economic advancement.  Some low income earners still find it hard to make ends meet, reflecting a notable wealth gap in society.

31.    Poverty alleviation, care for the elderly and support for the disadvantaged are at the top of the current-term Government's agenda.  We have devoted substantial resources to improve the livelihood of the grassroots over the past four years or so.  Specifically, as compared with the amount at the beginning of the current-term Government, recurrent expenditure on social welfare has increased by 71 per cent in five years, from $42.8 billion in 2012-13 to $73.3 billion in 2017-18.  Over the period, poverty figures have edged downward.  We will continue to allocate resources in this area.  We aim to render assistance to people in need through our social security system, while at the same time striving to encourage and support people capable of working to achieve self-reliance through employment.  The goal is to alleviate intergenerational poverty and enhance upward social mobility, thereby promoting a caring and inclusive society.

32.    Senior citizens deserve credit for their contributions to the prosperity of Hong Kong.  We should show the community's care for them.

33.    As announced by the Chief Executive in this year's Policy Address, the Government will enhance the Old Age Living Allowance (OALA) through two measures.  First, a higher monthly allowance of $3,435 will be provided for eligible elderly persons with more financial needs.  Second, the existing asset limits will be relaxed to benefit more elderly persons.  It is estimated that about 500 000 elderly persons, each receiving approximately $10,000 to $30,000 more a year, will benefit from these measures in the first year upon full implementation, and the coverage of OALA will increase from 37 per cent to 47 per cent of the elderly population, thus further strengthening retirement protection through the social security pillar.  The Government will lower the eligibility age for Elderly Health Care Vouchers from 70 to 65, so that about 400 000 more elderly persons will receive $2,000 a year to purchase primary care services from the private sector.  These measures represent a significant and long-term commitment, involving an additional recurrent government expenditure of about $9 billion per year on average over the next ten years.

34.    The Government is discussing with major stakeholders the proposal to progressively abolish the "offsetting" of severance payments or long service payments with Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contributions.  I will provide the necessary financial support having regard to the outcome.

35.    Besides, I will continue to allocate resources to optimise healthcare and elderly services, and enhance care and support for persons with disabilities.



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Last revision date : 22 February 2017