Hong Kong Financial Secretary Henry Tang said Monday employment is the key to self-reliance and helping the jobless rejoin the labor market will help ensure the city's social safety net's sustainability.
Speaking at a meeting of the Commission on Poverty, Tang said the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government will spare no effort to encourage able-bodied Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients and the unemployed to find and retain jobs.
Commission members on Monday studied the situation of the low-income groups in Hong Kong and reviewed existing government policies and measures aiming at providing support and assistance to them.
They noted the government's policies and measures have provided a comprehensive system of support to low-income families to help them meet their basic daily needs.
The comprehensive system is befitting of a caring society, Tang said. "The 60 percent spending increase over the last 10 years reflects the readiness of the community to provide additional support to the less fortunate as Hong Kong becomes more affluent."
Members noted if the impact of salaries tax, public housing and education benefits are taken into account, the Gini Coefficient --which reflects income disparity in 2001 -- would be reduced by about 14 percent.
This confirms social policies' effectiveness in providing necessary support to the low-income families and the need to look beyond income levels when assessing the poverty situation in Hong Kong.
The commission agreed to conduct a more detailed assessment of the poverty situation of different groups in society to help enlighten future deliberation on resource allocation among the needy.
The members also agreed to launch a study on how the current system is providing assistance to the "non-working poor" and the "working poor", including the provision of disregarded earnings under the CSSA Scheme.
(Xinhua News Agency January 24, 2006)