A professor of economics on Wednesday said claims by Oxfam that the wealth gap in Hong Kong had risen sharply despite the end of the pandemic may be misleading.
Speaking on RTHK's Hong Kong Today programme, Ho Lok-sang, director of the Pan Sutong Shanghai-Hong Kong Economic Policy Research Institute said one reason the income of poorer households had fallen was migration among younger people, who had left retired parents behind.
He was responding to Oxfam's annual poverty report, published on Tuesday, which showed that the richest 10 percent of households in Hong Kong bring in almost 60 times more than the poorest 10 percent. That's up from a multiple of 47 last year.
"It's not inaccurate but it's a bit misleading, in that a lot of those very low income households actually are represented by retired people who do not have much income," he told RTHK's Samantha Butler.
"The fact that [their income] has come down in fact has to do with some of the younger family members may have left the family and gone abroad, emigrated to various places, so that the household income falls down."
Ho said the report didn't reflect the strong employment situation, adding that people who couldn't work would be able to seek government welfare in the former of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) scheme.
"You can see that the unemployment rate has come down. At about 2.8 percent, it's effectively full employment, and people who are looking for jobs, willing to take up jobs, would not have much difficulty securing a job.
"But of course if you are elderly it might be a bit difficult, because you may not be able to physically handle some of those job requirements. So in those cases, the CSSA would come in."
On Oxfam's call for a higher minimum wage, Ho said this would harm small businesses and it would be better to call for higher government wage supplements and the family allowance. He also said there was a need for more help for people who don't live in public housing.