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South China Morning Post - Extra $500m serving urged for food banks

Date 2011/02/12

Hong Kong's biggest political party in the legislature is urging the government to expand its aid
to food banks with an extra HK$500 million.
The wish list from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong also
includes a one-off HK$3,600 subsidy on electricity for each household, and waiving the rates for one
year, capped at HK$3,000 a quarter.
The DAB's calls came yesterday - two days before Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announces
his budget tomorrow .
On measures to curb property price rises, the government is expected to hold auctions for at least
10 plots of land in the coming fiscal year, on top of land sales triggered by developers under the
application list system.
Meanwhile, Sham Shui Po district councillor Vincent Cheng Wing-shun said the current food
assistance scheme mainly helps the jobless.
``In most cases, they can only receive aid once every six months,'' Cheng said. ``I hope by setting
aside more money for the scheme, it can help more low-income people and they can be allowed to
receive aid more frequently.''
The Social Welfare Department commissioned nongovernmental organizations to run five food assistance
service projects in February 2009.
Government figures show that up to November 30, nearly 40,000 people have benefited.
The government said in 2008 that HK$60 million would be given to the NGOs for operational expenses,
while another HK$27.5 million would be reserved to meet future service demand.
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said last month the department estimates
the available funding will help food assistance projects to operate up to 2013.
``However, the department will closely monitor the service demand,'' Cheung told legislators.
The NGO which has spent the most so far is Kwun Tong Methodist Social Service, providing food aid
in Kwun Tong, Wong Tai Sin and Sai Kung. It spent HK$5.62 million up to November.
St James' Settlement, which serves Hong Kong Island, Tung Chung, Tsuen Wan, Kwai Tsing and outlying
islands, spent HK$3.02 million.
Highly anticipated to focus on combating inflation and boosting housing supply, Tsang is expected to
increase tax allowances and tax rebates, waive property rates, and provide a one-off allowance for
welfare recipients and the old.