Institution(s): Hong Kong Institute of Economics and Business Strategy , The Hong Kong and Asia-Pacific Economies Research Program

Date: Mar 02, 2000 (Thursday)

Time: 02:00 pm - 05:00 pm

Venue: The University of Hong Kong Town Centre Lecture Theatre B4 3/F., Admiralty Centre, 18 Harcourt Road Hong Kongg

Medium: English



CSSA expenditure has been increasing dramatically, recording growth rates of 47.5% in 1996/97 and 32.5% in 1997/1998. In the fiscal year 1998/99 alone, HK$13 billion was spent on CSSA, accounting for 7.8% of HKSAR's recurrent expenditure. With such alarming increases, there is an urgent need to investigate the effectiveness of the CSSA scheme. Can the CSSA scheme restrict cash handouts only for those with no other options and focus on developing programs for promoting and encouraging self-reliance?

This symposium draws together specialists with different perspectives to investigate the effectiveness of our current CSSA. In addition, they will explore ways to ensure how the CSSA can better serve the public while making the most efficient use of our taxpayers' money. We need to first establish clear objectives as well as learn from our past experiences and the experiences of other countries in order to come up with a well-rounded and practical approach for the future of social assistance in Hong Kong.

Symposium Panel

Mrs. Rachel Cartland, JP
Assistant Director, Social Welfare Department

"A More Integrated Approach to CSSA"

Mrs. Cartland is Assistant Director of the Social Welfare Department, taking responsibility for Hong Kong's social security programmes. This challenging job involves analysis of major policy issues, management of almost 1700 staff and 38 field offices. Mrs. Cartland will give an overview of the current CSSA as well as discuss their mission to constantly upgrade service levels including the forthcoming introduction of a HK$225 million re-computerisation programme. Graduated from Oxford University, Mrs. Cartland has more than twenty years of experience in the Administrative Grade of the Hong Kong Government.


Professor Nelson Chow Wing Sun
Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong

"Social Security in Hong Kong Time for a Revamp?"

The existing CSSA Scheme is both inefficient as a safety-net and ineffective in helping recipients to stand on their own feet. Prof. Chow will examine the shortcomings of the current CSSA Scheme as well as propose practical ways to make it more efficient and effective. Professor Nelson Chow is Chair Professor of Social Work and Social Administration at the University of Hong Kong. He is a former chairman of the Social Welfare Advisory Committee and the Hong Kong Council of Social Science. Currently he chairs the Mandatory Provident Fund Advisory Committee.


Professor Liu Pak Wai
Pro-Vice Chancellor & Co-Director of H.K. Asia-Pacific Economies Research Program
The Chinese University of HK

"Financing the CSSA Scheme"

Prof. Liu will explore the reasons for rapid growth in the spending of the comprehensive social assistant scheme. He will analyse the implications for government's fiscal budget and examine measures for improving the financial aspects of the scheme. Professor Liu holds an A.B. from Princeton University and M.A., Ph.D. from Stanford University. He is Professor of Economics and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is a member of the Economic Advisory Committee, the Commission on Strategic Development, and the Task Force on Employment.


Mr. Robert Rector
Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

"Welfare Reform in the U.S."

There are more than 70 major government programs that give aid to targeted low income and "poor" households in the U.S. The welfare programs aid about one fifth of all Americans and costs around 5 percent of US GDP. Mr. Rector is one of the principle architects of the welfare reform legislation that was passed in Washington in 1996. He will talk about the U.S. welfare system, reforms implemented, how well the reforms are working and further measures to improve the system. Mr. Rector holds a B.A. from the College of William and Mary and an M.A. in political science from Johns Hopkins University.


(left to right: Dr. Alan Siu, Prof. Nelson Chow, Prof. Liu Pak Wai, Mrs. Rachel Cartland JP, Mr. Robert Rector, and Prof. Y.C. Richard Wong)