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More spent on community care

February 24, 2016

The Government will inject nearly $200 billion into social welfare, healthcare services and education to improve people's livelihood.


Delivering his 2016-17 Budget today, Financial Secretary John Tsang said these will be the three main areas of government spending over the next financial year.


"The estimated recurrent expenditure on these three areas for 2016-17 is $198 billion, accounting for 60% of recurrent government expenditure. This represents an increase of over 80% when compared with 10 years ago."


Recurrent expenditure on medical and health for 2016-17 will be $57 billion, accounting for 16.5% of recurrent government expenditure.


"This represents an increase of more than 90% when compared with a decade ago."


Social support

Recurrent expenditure on social welfare for 2016-17 is estimated at $66 billion, accounting for 19% of recurrent government expenditure.


"This has doubled when compared with 10 years ago."


The Government will allocate a recurrent provision of $2.9 billion to implement the Low Income Working Family Allowance Scheme this year.


The scheme will alleviate intergenerational poverty by encouraging employment and helping poor families with children.


"The Government seeks to help women to manage family commitments alongside work. On top of the additional places of Extended Hours Service for eligible childcare centres last year, an additional 3,800 places will be provided in phases. A pilot scheme will also be introduced in the first quarter of this year to provide childcare training for grandparents."


The Government will allocate a recurrent provision of $180 million to strengthen various residential care services, special transport services and community support services for the disabled, and to provide support services for children with special needs and their families.


It will also extend the validity period the unused subsidies of the one-off electricity charges subsidy scheme.


"The validity period of this relief measure will last until the end of June. Up till last October, 7% of households eligible for the subsidy still had unused credits in their accounts. I shall extend for the last time the validity period of the unused subsidies for two years to June 30, 2018."


More hospital capacity

To cope with the ageing population, he said the Government has set aside a dedicated provision of $200 billion for a 10-year hospital development plan to enable the Hospital Authority to expand and upgrade healthcare facilities in a more flexible and long-term manner.


He said the development plan is a vast investment. It will provide 5,000 additional hospital beds, representing an increase of 18%.


The number of operating theatres will increase by 40% to 320. Specialist outpatient service capacity will increase 40% from 6.8 million to 10 million attendances a year.


"At the district level, community health centres will be set up in Mong Kok, Shek Kip Mei and North District. Additional services for 410,000 attendances will be provided at the general outpatient clinics each year."


He said the development plan will cover the redevelopment and expansion of a number of hospitals. These include Kwong Wah Hospital, United Christian Hospital, Queen Mary Hospital, Kwai Chung Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital, Haven of Hope Hospital, Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital, Operating Theatre Block of Tuen Mun Hospital, North District Hospital, Lai King Building of Princess Margaret Hospital and Grantham Hospital.


"As for new hospital projects, an acute general hospital will be built in the Kai Tak Development Area. The two-phased project will be commissioned in 10 years and will provide 2,400 beds and facilities such as an oncology centre and the first neuroscience centre in Hong Kong."


The Government will allocate $10 billion for the authority to set up an endowment fund to generate investment returns for enhancing public-private partnership programmes.


The Government will also provide a loan of $4 billion to the Chinese University of Hong Kong for developing a non-profit making private hospital.


Education enhancement

Expenditure on education for 2016-17 will be $75 billion, accounting for 21.5% of recurrent government expenditure. It represents an increase of 70% over 10 years.


"There is keen competition among economies under the 'new economic order'. For Hong Kong to stay competitive, we need to have a pool of talents familiar with innovation and technology and equipped with professional skills.


"The talents must have broad horizons and a solid grasp of international affairs, so that they can contribute towards the diversified development of Hong Kong as a knowledge-based economy and help open up new markets.


"With good basic education in general, the generations born in the 1980s and the 1990s have become the lifeblood of different sectors. The Government will continue to invest heavily in nurturing talents. Apart from our ongoing efforts to enhance the quality of education, we shall also offer more internship and exchange opportunities to students and encourage the workforce to pursue continuing education, developing a good mix of generalists and professionals in Hong Kong. This will help our new generations maintain their competitive edge and realise their potential under the “new economic order."