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FS outlines fiscal consolidation plan

In the 2024-25 Budget announced today, Financial Secretary Paul Chan proposed a number of measures to increase revenue and outlined a fiscal consolidation programme which aims to restore fiscal balance in a few years’ time.   Mr Chan said even though the Government strived to reduce expenditure as the COVID-19 pandemic had subsided, the total expenditure for 2023-24 reached $727.9 billion, representing an increase of 36.9% compared with 2018-19, of which operating expenditure rose substantially by 40.2% whereas operating revenue increased only 13.1%.   On capital works, owing to the fact that the Government has been pressing ahead with land and housing supply projects, along with other infrastructure works for improving the environment and people’s livelihood, the average annual expenditure has increased from about $76 billion over the past five years to about $85 billion in 2023-24.   Fiscal reserves have dropped to the current level of $733.2 billion.   Fiscal consoli

Community space eases family stress

Following the opening of the Sham Shui Po Community Living Room last month, going to the venue after class has become routine for Ms Liang and her son Derek.

 

A primary school pupil, Derek can now do his homework – with assistance from tertiary students – at a spacious study room there, instead of studying at home, a subdivided unit of not much more than 100 sq ft.

 

Alleviating pressure

The after-school study support, provided by the operator of the Community Living Room, is aimed at alleviating pressure on parents in supervising their children’s homework.

 

Ms Liang is pleased that Derek is able to make use of the study programme.

 

“I feel so much relieved to have my son finish his homework here with the help of the tertiary students as I am not good at those subjects,” she explained.

 

“My son loves this place very much, as the staff here will play with him after he finishes his homework. If he were at home, after finishing his homework he could only watch television or ask me to play with him, but I am too busy to play with him during this period. I need to prepare dinner and do other housework.”

 

Convenient facilities

The Community Living Room not only relieves the onus on Ms Liang as a caretaker; it also lightens her housekeeping workload.

 

Living in a small and crowded flat, Ms Liang does not have space at home for a washing machine and needs to wash clothes by hand.

 

Now, however, she is able to make use of laundry services at the Community Living Room, which are available at an affordable price.

 

Alvin Chui, person-in-charge at the venue, said the laundry facilities and a spacious pantry, which is equipped with a full range of cooking equipment and utensils, are the Community Living Room’s two most popular amenities, as they cater to users’ greatest needs.

 

Fun activities

Ms Liang has also participated in group activities organised at the Community Living Room, and made new friends there.


During the winter solstice, she made and tasted glutinous rice balls with other families to celebrate the festival.

 

Earlier this month, they also learned how to make steamed chocolate cake together.

 

“The pantry here is very spacious,” said Ms Liang. “If I cooked at home, I would need to move the stuff away to free up some space for cooking. I will not do such complicated food at home.”

 

She added that the Community Living Room is able to support her both in terms of her housekeeping activities, such as cooking and washing of clothes, and her childcare responsibilities.

 

Targeted strategy

Steered by the Government, the Pilot Programme on Community Living Room is a targeted poverty alleviation initiative that is tailored to the needs of subdivided unit households.

 

Assistant Director of Social Welfare (Youth & Corrections) Chan Lai-chu explained that the programme aims to provide additional living space and enhance the interpersonal networks of grassroots families through cross-sectoral collaboration, so as to enhance their living standards and sense of belonging to the community.

 

Through tripartite collaboration between the Government, business and the community, the Sham Shui Po Community Living Room is the first flagship project under the programme.

 

With the business sector providing free premises, the Government has engaged The Lok Sin Tong Benevolent Society, Kowloon, a social welfare organisation, to operate the Sham Shui Po Community Living Room, while also providing funding through the Community Care Fund to cover operating costs.

 

Chan added that the goal of the Government is for no less than 70% of service users to experience an enhancement in terms of their living space, their sense of belonging to the community, and their interpersonal networks, after using the Community Living Room.

 

She added: “The Government will actively encourage the participation of the business sector in setting up more Community Living Rooms in districts clustered with subdivided unit households so that more grassroots families will benefit.”


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