The Chief Executive has announced his final policy address today. He addressed many concerns of the DAB and for this he should be commended. The policy address had policies to help the vulnerable and the elderly in society and move those issues in a positive direction, such as Enhancing the Old Age Living Allowance (OALA) through relaxing the asset limits for the existing allowance and adding a higher tier of assistance, amending the age of eligibility for medical vouchers to 65 and progressively abolishing the “offsetting” of severance payments or long service payments with Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contributions, and other issues. On top of this, he talked about assisting technological innovation, and on the issues of land development and MPF fund issues he pointed out yet more positive policies. This policy address fit the ideals of the C.E. himself, which is “seeking positive progress in a stable and moderate manner”. It also fits the “Work for results now and embrace the future” ethos of the DAB. This policy address shows “commitment and action”, and we affirm and welcome this final policy address of the Chief Executive.
The policy address was able to answer many of the requests and suggestions of the DAB. Regarding livelihood issues, the policy address mentioned relaxing the asset limits for the OALA and adding a higher level of assistance, introducing the Fujian scheme, canceling the “bad son statement”, amending the age of eligibility for medical vouchers to 65, improving the Silver Bond schemes, providing more resources to support children with special needs in education, providing more resources to “community involvement projects”, and constructing 26 different athletic and recreational community facilities. It also addressed installing air conditioners in 10 separate wet markets, providing resources to strengthen cleanliness and hygiene throughout the city. Increasing funds for conservation to conserve and revitalize natural and historical wonders amid a positive human environment. Providing resources and starting detailed planning work to construct Chinese medicinal hospitals and the Northern link, the Tuen Mun south extension and the East Kowloon MTR lines, and other issues. Regarding economic development, beginning work on turning Hong Kong into a “smart city”, providing resources to support technological and cultural innovation and creativity to improve our industrial structure, and actively participating in “Belt and Road Initiative” in order to expand business opportunities, and more.
However, the policy address did not lower the OAA eligibility age to 65. Relaxing the asset limits for the existing allowance and adding a higher tier of assistance are not enough to meet the needs of seniors and are still well below the expectations and hopes of the general public. The construction of housing has not met the goal of reducing the Public Housing waitlist to three years, and did not help the many problems that young people and those in need face to receive the housing they need. On top of this, the policy address did not have many policies aimed at improving our industrial structure. The DAB will now send the related questions to the districts for consultation and advice. Then we will be able to give the government more improved advice for new policies. We hope that in his remaining time the Chief Executive will put urgently forward realistic proposals and policies to deal with these problems as soon as possible. As regards controversial issues such as the MPF issue we should consult with the stakeholders and reach a consensus as soon as possible, and use the momentum to solve other issues that still remain unaddressed.
News Inquiries: DAB Legislative Councilor Starry Lee (7770 0820)