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This Web Page is updated on 2008-11-18 10:29

Christian Service News

Issue 60 (July 2008)

Chief Executive's Column

Problems that the Lump Sum Grant Review Need to Address

Ng Shui Lai

The Lump Sum Grant Independent Review Committee is set up by the government and is now inviting views on the Lump Sum Grant (LSG).

The LSG is the major subvention mode that government uses for non-government organizations (NGOs) to provide social welfare services. In reviewing the overall implementation of the LSG, one cannot just focus on the implementation issues. Rather, we must go back to the basics by looking into the mission and vision of the LSG. First, the Committee has to re-affirm that the government has certain commitment in providing social welfare services. The scope of government subvented services is the baseline for measuring this commitment. Therefore, providing social welfare subvention to NGOs is a means to achieve this government duty and is not doing them a favour. The LSG should be reviewed from this perspective. Another basic principle is that the review should aim at coming up with the best way to provide social welfare service and not just helping NGOs.

Besides the two aforementioned basic principles, the LSG review should also consider the following problems:

  1. One of the problems of the LSG is trying to use the same system for all. One difficult question to ask is whether all NGOs are able to provide services under the LSG? Are there any prerequisites that an NGO should have in order to provide its services effectively?
  2. The uniform calculation method of the LSG cannot be applied to every single type of services.
  3. The review committee should take a hard look to see if the LSG level allows an individual NGO to compete in the market for recruitment of the required manpower.
  4. One of the difficulties NGOs face is the so-called “snapshot” staff that consumes a large portion of the LSG. Perhaps the review committee should come up with a solution once and for all to resolve the “snapshot” staff issue, e.g. a grant to enable NGOs to compensate the “snapshot” staff and then putting them on new contracts.
  5. One of the features of the LSG is to use marketing principles to handle subvention. But one must recognize that social welfare is not fully market-oriented. Many present problems arise from the indiscriminate application of the so-called marketing principles. The review committee should take this opportunity to look into this unfair implementation of the LSG.

We hope the review committee can take these problems into consideration and submit their findings and recommendations to the government.