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HK gov't focuses on poverty alleviation: chief executive


17:37, January 16, 2013

HONG KONG, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung said Wednesday the government aims at relieving poverty through various means, and a welfare policy underpinned by heavy taxation is not a viable option.

Delivering his first policy address, Leung said poverty alleviation policy should help underprivileged people capable of working by offering them opportunities to become self-reliant and improve their livelihood.

The policy address, broadcast live to the city's 7.1 million population, presents the annual work plan of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government. It also sets out long-term blueprint and objectives for Hong Kong.

"The government reinstated the Commission on Poverty (CoP) a few months ago to combat poverty," Leung, who took office in July 2012, told the city's lawmakers.

The focus of the CoP is to develop poverty alleviation policies. Its work includes reviewing the effectiveness of existing poverty alleviation policies, formulating new policies to prevent and alleviate both poverty and social exclusion, as well as promoting upward social mobility.

Leung said that task forces under the CoP will work on different fronts: supporting the underprivileged who have special needs; promoting education, employment and training to encourage self-reliance and better promotion prospects; and engaging the community and fostering cross-sectoral collaboration among the government, businesses and other sectors.

Leung added that the CoP has identified setting a poverty line in light of the actual situation in Hong Kong as one of its priorities. The poverty line serves three functions: quantifying the poverty-stricken population for a focused analysis of the situation of various groups living below the poverty line; thoroughly investigating the causes of poverty and serving as a guiding reference for policy formulation so that poverty alleviation efforts can be more effective and assessing the effectiveness of poverty alleviation policies against changes in the size of the poverty-stricken population.

"Regarding retirement protection, I suggest in my manifesto that we should study the impact of an aging population on our public finance, and plan ahead to deal with the issue in a timely manner," Leung said.

According to Leung, the government will reinforce and enhance the existing three pillars, namely, private savings and family support, social security system, and the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) System.

Leung noted that since its inception, the Community Care Fund (CCF) has launched a total of 18 assistance programs. People outside the existing safety net or the coverage of government's short-term relief measures have been successfully identified through these programs and provided with appropriate assistance. To date, more than 100,000 people have benefited under these programs.

In recent years, many business people have, apart from giving donations, engaged in poverty alleviation through active involvement in community services. They help organize community activities and work in partnership with welfare organizations to promote relevant projects. The CoP will take reference from their successful experience in promoting more business participation.

The policy address is an annual address by the chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Leung was elected the third chief executive of the HKSAR in March 2012 and came into office in July the same year. A full term is five years.


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