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Hong Kong chief executive urges unity in tackling housing, poverty, aging issues

11-01-2012 23:47 BJT

HONG KONG, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung on Thursday urged the city's lawmakers and the public to work together to face the many challenges ahead, including housing, poverty, aging and environmental problems.

Attending a Legislative Council question-and-answer session, Leung said both lawmakers and the city government wanted to see a better Hong Kong. As the city has many challenges ahead, the city government and lawmakers must co-operate to implement policies, he said.

The society is concerned about these issues and it is necessary for the city government, the 70-member Legislative Council, and the whole community to solve the problems with mutual understanding, Leung said.

The city government must listen extensively and act decisively, he added, citing its recent work to curb pregnant Mainland women with no ties to Hong Kong giving birth in Hong Kong, and halting visits by non-Shenzhen residents with multi-entry visas.

Leung said Hong Kong is a small place with a population of 7 million, and the government must put forward preferential measures for Hong Kong residents. These include the "Hong Kong land for Hong Kong people" policy and the house-buyers' stamp duty launched last week.

To meet the housing needs of the grassroots and the middle-class, Leung said the city government needed adequate land supply. The development time for public housing, home ownership flats, private units, and Northeast New Territories New Development Areas, must be shortened.

Leung also said the old-age living allowance was a lasting poverty-alleviation measure, and the income and asset declaration was necessary to bring maximum benefit to senior citizens who are most in need. Hong Kong society generally agrees that the government should first take care of the people who are in need, particularly seniors, he said.

But the city government must be prudent when contemplating new expenditure, and take into account long-term implications, so it does not present an unbearable burden in future, he said.

The allowance's annual cost would rise to about 10 billion HK dollars (1.29 billion U.S. dollars) without an income and asset limit for people over 70 years old, and would continue to grow. As the working population starts to shrink from the year 2020, the burden on younger generations will rise.

The allowance is not the only poverty-alleviation measure, Leung added. The government will form a poverty commission to help formulate poverty-alleviation policies. The commission will also set a poverty line to deal with the problem objectively, and propose strategies to improve people's livelihood.

The government does not mean to pressurize lawmakers, he stressed, but added that it can only start preparation works for the elderly allowance after funding is approved.

Editor:Zhang Jianfeng |Source: Xinhua

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