Speech of the Hon KP Chan on the Motion on Reviewing Coverage of Safety Net (Synopsis)
• The Government should consider the introduction of a negative income tax as a form of assistance to low-income workers and as an incentive for those who earn their living. It would not only remove negative labeling but also accord deserved pride to workers. More importantly, it would send a positive message to the public on respecting employment.
• I fully agree to create more basic level jobs and actively attract Mainland enterprises to Hong Kong. As our economic transformation and population policy are incompatible, low-skilled, low-educated labour is increasing in supply. The Government should develop more labour-intensive industries in populace areas like Tin Shui Wai and Tung Chung and create more employment. The Government should also reconsider its population policy notwithstanding family reunion and analyze future geographical distribution of people and workers with a view to providing suitable jobs.
• My Amendment calls for the Government to study the establishment of a universal retirement protection system as a means of complementing the Mandatory Provident Fund. The Government’s latest proposals on improving MPF are still not addressing its inherent shortcomings. MPF is providing better protection to the middle-income and higher, rather than the low-income, underprivileged and retiring workers because the latter are incapable to contribute enough for their retirement. Hong Kong’s population is aging. By the year 2039, one out of four citizens will be old-aged. Moreover, poverty is reaching record high in the first half of this year with one out of three old-aged is poor by definition.
• The pessimistic view is that Hong Kong would become an aging and poor society with a large old-aged population living in poverty, and Government would have to look after them in the last resort. If the Government is not decisive today, it would regret in future. In my view, we could no longer evade the issue of aging population. The Government should act before the situation gets worse and while resources are still adequate and commission a study on the establishment of a universal retirement protection system. Lately, two retired senior civil servants have spoken out in support. Both of them have contributed to the creation of MPF and have studied retirement protection in general. Their support is more convincing than any one else. I do not wish to see decision makers in the Government today regret only after stepping down that they should have done better in retirement protection for the people of Hong Kong.