Legislative Council Panel on Welfare Services
Meeting on 9 November 1998
Proposal to establish a Social Welfare Services Development Fund
This paper sets out the Administration's position on the proposal to establish a Social Welfare Services Development Fund.
Commitment to the provision of Quality Welfare Services
2. We are committed to providing the best possible welfare services to the community. As stated in the Policy Address Welfare Policy Booklet, our objective is to develop and provide effective and quality welfare services for those in need. If measured in monetary terms, our commitment to welfare is significant. Expenditure on welfare has continued to consume a large and ever increasing proportion of overall recurrent public expenditure, taking up over 12.5% of total recurrent public expenditure in 1998/99. It is also estimated that welfare spending in 1999/2000 will increase by 12% over the past year. As such, the public can continue to count on our commitment to provide services for the vulnerable groups in our community including people with disabilities, families in need, the elderly and young people particularly, those at-risk.
Administration's position on the proposed
Social Welfare Services Development Fund
3. The Administration appreciates Members' concern over how continued growth in welfare expenditure can be sustained. We have, on various occasions, addressed Members' concerns and reiterated our stance on the proposed Social Welfare Services Development Fund. At the motion debate on "Alleviating the hardship of people's livelihood" on 8 July 1998, the Financial Secretary explained in some detail, the Government's financial management principles. The Secretary for Health and Welfare repeated this and reiterated the Government's commitment to providing quality welfare services during a motion debate in the Provisional Legislative Council held on 1 April 1998. Relevant extracts from the speeches made by the Financial Secretary and the Secretary for Health and Welfare are attached for Members' ease of reference.
Enhance efficiency and effectiveness
in the delivery of Welfare Services
4.Injecting additional resources is, of course, not the only way to improve service quality. It can also be accomplished through reviewing, re-focusing and re-engineering existing services with a view to achieving better "value for money". As such, we continually critically review the existing mode of provision of many of our services with a view to enhancing performance. For example, a more integrated approach in the provision of welfare services is expected to enhance flexibility in the deployment of resources, avoid duplication of services and enhance productivity, ultimately benefiting service recipients.
5.Plans are well advanced to introduce a series of performance monitoring measures to help assess the performance of all welfare units. This will enhance efficiency and effectiveness in the use of government subvention, which now totals $5.4 Bn.
6. There can be no question about Government's on-going commitment to developing and providing quality welfare services to those in need. Within the fiscal disciplines enshrined in the Basic Law as well as our own budgetary principles, we will continue to inject the necessary resources for the provision of welfare services. At the same time, we will critically review and improve existing service provision modes and our subvention system, with a view to enhancing productivity and improving services to recipients. As such, we see no reason to change from our earlier stated position regarding the setting-up of such a Fund.
Health and Welfare Bureau