A former adviser to the government on welfare and elderly policies has described the administration's move to offer low-interest loans to people who have lost their jobs as "unsympathetic", saying the plan will do nothing for the government's image.
"I don't think [the unemployed] will see this as help from the government," Nelson Chow, a retired social work and social administration professor, told RTHK on Thursday.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan announced in his budget speech on Wednesday that people who have been unemployed over the past year will be able to borrow up to HK$80,000 in government-guaranteed low-interest loans.
But Chow said what unemployed people need is a cash subsidy, adding that loans could also increase the psychological stress for people with financial problems.
"Those who apply have to go through a very long process, I think they have to produce documents proving they are unemployed," he said.
Chow also expected that less than half of the quarter of a million people who lost their jobs would apply for the loan.
"For a loan you have to consider whether you are able to pay it back or not in future," he noted.
He accused the government of being all too aware that there could be a lacklustre response to the loan scheme.
"I do think the government knows quite well if this is just a loan, just an option, not so many people would like to apply," he said.
"I think providing [the unemployed] a loan is just an excuse for not introducing the unemployment assistance."