SLW expresses confidence in committee's review of Lump Sum Grant Subvention System

The Secretary for Labour and Welfare is confident that the Lump Sum Grant Independent Review Committee will come up with constructive and impartial recommendations to improve the Lump Sum Grant Subvention System (LSGSS) after in-depth consultations with the welfare sector.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the committee today (April 29), the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said that the committee had been reviewing the LSGSS in a comprehensive, serious and objective manner since January this year.

Mr Cheung said that the Government was highly concerned about the difficulties faced by the welfare sector in implementing the LSGSS, and had responded actively to these concerns in the past 10 months.

"The Government has allocated a Tide-over Grant and a Special One-off Grant, totalling about $2.4 billion, to non-government organisations (NGOs) in the past few years, and provided them with additional recurrent resources of $330 million last year following the civil service salary adjustments.

"We understand that subvented NGOs were still facing financial difficulties and had therefore by the end of last year put forward a package of relief measures amounting to about $300 million, which includes a grant of $200 million from the Lotteries Fund, to facilitate them in the re-organisation of their structure and services.

"I have also tried to find more resources to respond to the welfare sector's request over the years for adjusting the recurrent subventions baseline allocation. And in that respect, an annual additional recurrent allocation of $200 million has been provided to subvented NGOs starting this financial year to strengthen their administrative capacity and enhance the quality of their services," he said.

Resources aside, the welfare sector had also expressed concern over the operation of the LSGSS. While acknowledging the merits of the LSGSS, given its wide acceptance by the welfare sector in the last seven years, Mr Cheung agreed that it was now time to review the system to identify room for improvement.

"For instance, could the management of NGOs be strengthened? How could the cost-effectiveness in the use of public funds be enhanced? Could complaints be handled in a better way? These are all questions crucial to the successful implementation of the LSGSS that warrant careful examination," he said.

Mr Cheung said he looked forward to a frank and proactive exchange of views between the welfare sector and the committee. He thanked the committee, led by its chairman, Mr Wilfred Wong Ying-wai, for organising the seminar in an open and serious manner to gather views from the welfare sector.

Ends/Tuesday, April 29, 2008