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Christian Service News

Issue 61 (October 2008)
Chief Executive's Column

Long Term Social Welfare Planning

Ng Shui Lai

Recently the Social Welfare Advisory Committee (SWAC) is studying to formulate a blueprint for future social welfare service.

Hong Kong used to have a comprehensive social welfare planning system guided by the White Papers, Five-Year Social Welfare Planning and a bi-annual Five-Year Social Welfare Planning Review. Since the late 90s this system has been terminated. We welcome that the Government is now considering a social welfare blueprint again.

The following principles are important when formulating long-term social welfare planning:

  1. Interface between government's various policies is essential. It is the government's commitment to the total well being of its people and not just in a single policy area.
  2. There should be a long-term commitment and vision and not just short-term focus on the planning and resources allocation in the coming few years.
  3. It must be transparent with open channels to allow full participation of all stakeholders. Varying views should be accepted as much as possible in order to build consensus.
  4. It should not be a one-off planning. A standby mechanism should be established in order to respond to continuous changing social needs.

We suggest setting up a social welfare planning committee under the Chief Secretary that may develop into a statutory body in the long run. The main objective of this committee is to formulate the social welfare blueprint and social welfare planning guidelines. The committee should also follow up on the implementation of the blueprint. We also suggest that the Chief Executive call a social welfare summit from time to time to collect views and build consensus.

As to the content of the social welfare blueprint, the core value of social welfare should be clearly stated. It should include the rationale for policy, long-term objectives and vision. Clear statements of social welfare planning protocol should also be included.

We hope SWAC would come up with an appropriate blueprint on long-term social welfare planning soon.