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This page is updated on 2006-07-27 12:04
Christian Service News
Issue 45 (October 2004)
Opinion Feedback
Regression Amid Social Development

The Social Development Index 2004 compiled by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service indicates that although Hong Kong society has continued to develop, poverty and family solidarity have deteriorated.

According to the findings, the weighted Social Development Index 2004, which reflects the social aspect of Hong Kong society in year 2002, reads 147 (index at 1991 was 100). That means Hong Kong has developed in the social aspect by 47% in 10 years' time.

Nevertheless, amidst this promising picture, there are areas that need specific attention. The index measuring the development of low income groups records a regression of -119, which means that the situation of these low income groups are 119% worse than what they have been in 1991.

Similarly, the index reflecting family solidarity in Hong Kong shows that the family system is facing a critical challenge. The index of 2002 is -150, representing a 150% worsening of family solidarity as compared to 1991.

Regressions are also observed in the development of youths and children, the indexes of which read -76 and -68 respectively.

It is obvious that more concern and resources should be spent to enhance the development of children and youths, and in particular the low-income groups. It is a shame for Hong Kong that while she enjoys economic recovery and social development, there is still a part of her, the vulnerable groups, that continues to suffer.

It would be unreasonable to cut CSSA further at this time as it is a major source of income for low-income groups. According to recent official economic statistics such as CPI (Consumer Price Indices), Hong Kong is coming out of deflation and may be moving towards inflation. This means that the prices of commodities will go up continuously in the near future. It is anticipated that the prices of daily necessities such as food, electricity, gas, and housing will experience a higher and faster rate of increase. These necessities usually occupy a major portion of monthly expenses of low-income families. A further deduction of CSSA in October as proposed by the government will in fact rub salt on the wounds of the low-income families, who are suffering from unemployment, low-income and increasing expenditure. The government should consider lifting this decision so as to show a genuine concern for the vulnerable groups.

Furthermore, youths at present are suffering from high unemployment, whilst the proportion of their younger counterparts living in low-income families increased in the past few years. The government should consider enlarging the scope and reinforcing the support services for the unemployed youths. For example, Associate Degree programs should continue to be subsidized, as this is a major channel that the youths who are not admitted to the universities can have further development and avoid being marginalized from the mainstream society in the future. A little saving in public expenditure at present may result in deterioration of the quality of human capital that may in turn assert greater pressure on social cost in the future.

Public expenditure on low-income groups, youths and children is an investment for the future. The government should give this serious consideration.

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