Source: Hong Kong Information Services
Secretary for Transport & Housing Frank Chan today said setting the level of monthly public transport expenses at $400 for claiming the government subsidy is reasonable.
The Government launched the Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme on January 1 last year, under which commuters with monthly public transport expenses exceeding $400 are eligible for the subsidy.
Mr Chan told lawmakers that in the first year of the scheme’s implementation, the monthly average subsidy amount was $160 million, involving an average of 2.2 million beneficiaries per month.
The average amount of monthly subsidy per beneficiary was about $73.
An average of around 1.59 million beneficiaries were entitled to a monthly subsidy amount at $100 or less. Around 440,000 beneficiaries were entitled to a monthly subsidy amount between $100.1 and $200. Around 120,000 beneficiaries were entitled to a monthly subsidy amount between $200.1 and $300.
The average number of commuters with monthly public transport expenses of $200.1-$300 was around 950,000, and those with monthly public expenses of $300.1-$400 was around 690,000.
He said if the level of public transport expenses were to be lowered to $200, the annual subsidy amount would increase by about 90%.
The annual subsidy amount will increase from around $2.3 billion to around $4.3 billion based on the design of the original scheme, while that based on the design of the enhanced scheme, which was launched from this year, will increase from around $3.1 billion to around $5.8 billion.
Mr Chan stressed that the scheme’s policy objective is to alleviate the fare burden of commuters whose public transport expenses are relatively high.
The monthly average number of beneficiaries of the scheme in its first year of implementation was around 2.2 million which was similar to the Government’s estimate back then.
In addition, on the premise of fiscal prudence, the Government has to ensure that public funds are properly used under the scheme to achieve its policy objective.
The Government believes that the current local economic situation has not impacted much on the scheme and the number of beneficiaries.
The stipulation of the level of public transport expenses of the scheme is appropriate, Mr Chan added.