Executive Councillor Lam Ching-choi said on Sunday he's worried that an expected drop in the Lotteries Fund would lead to a delay in providing new elderly services, such as care homes, to the ageing population in Hong Kong.
The fund – whose main source of income comes from proceeds from the Mark Six – has been used primarily to finance the city's social welfare projects.
Writing in his weekly blog, Labour and Welfare Secretary Law Chi-kwong said he expects the income of Lotteries Fund to drop drastically, because the Mark Six lottery operated by the Jockey Club was halted for more than six months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Law added that with the ageing population, demand for elderly services – as well as the need for more money from the Lotteries Fund to build more facilities – would climb.
He said his bureau needs to come up with a solution urgently, without elaborating.
Lam, who's also the chairman of the government's appointed Elderly Commission, told RTHK's Candice Wong that the administration needs to find other ways to support the funding of new projects, such as injecting money into the Lotteries Fund or making use of public money, although he noted that lawmakers' nod is needed for either approach.
"Both ways need to go through the Legislative Council. We very much rely on the lawmakers to smoothen the whole procedure and inject the money, either into the projects individually or into the Lotteries Fund," Lam said.
He also said private developers should be given incentive to build elderly care homes to help ease a shortage.
And to ensure the Lotteries Fund doesn't plunge into the red, the executive councillor said authorities should make a forecast of project expenses for the coming few years.