CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 November 2018

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Inflation hits low income families hardest

HONG KONG (UCAN): With Hong Kong experiencing its steepest inflation curve since 1995, both civil and Church groups are calling for measures to relieve the burden on poor families, especially with the crippling cost of food.

Government statistics released on August 22 show that overall consumer prices rose 7.9 per cent year on year in July.

Teresa Mak, the secretary general of the Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs, said the serious effect of the current inflation is highly visible in daily life with the price of a meal in fast-food restaurants, as well as vegetables and meat in markets sitting about 20 per cent above what they were a few months ago.

She said she is worried about the impact of inflation on low-income families, new immigrants and families which rely on social security. She points out that the current level of allowances is “not enough for a household to live a dignified life and the price surge makes their life even harder.”

In a survey conducted on the impact of soaring food prices, Oxfam Hong Kong pointed out on August 18 that although the territory has one of the highest human development rankings in the world, there are 144,400 families with children aged 15 or less that fall below the poverty line.

Mak said that government assistance is inadequate. “It should formulate effective and practical measures decisively, such as an annual review of the minimum wage policy and the amount of social security allowances,” she said.

Some local and international schools help their students by providing breakfast and lunch, which at least feeds the children a balanced diet and helps their physical growth.

The commission and some civic groups are organising recycling activities. Mak noted that even if they are only done on a small scale, they do at least create job opportunities for the poor.

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