HK wealth gap hits 46-year high


Sun, Jun 11, 2017 - Page 16

Hong Kong’s wealth gap was revealed on Friday to be at its highest in nearly 50 years, with living conditions fueling discontent in the territory as it prepares to mark two decades under Chinese rule.

Sky-high prices and the cost of living outstrip many ordinary residents’ salaries in Hong Kong, with apartments becoming increasingly cramped and generations of families forced to share.

In a report that comes out every five years, the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department applies a formula known as the Gini coefficient to measure wealth inequality. A Gini figure of zero indicates perfect equality, while 1.0 would be a society in which one person had all the wealth.

The department said Hong Kong’s figure climbed from 0.537 in 2011 to 0.539 last year, the highest since 1971.

Hong Kong Lawmaker and social worker Fernando Cheung (張超雄) said the result showed life had not improved since the hand over by Britain to China in 1997.

“The Gini signifies that the economic development of the past 20 years has not helped narrow the wealth gap or make our society more just,” Cheung said.

“Income disparity is still a main problem,” he added, describing major industries as controlled by a handful of tycoons.

A string of high-profile corruption trials has led to heightened public suspicion over cozy relations between politicians and the business world.

Former Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權) in February was sentenced to 20 months in prison for misconduct after being found guilty of failing to disclose plans to lease a luxury flat from a major investor in a broadcaster, which was later granted a license from the government while he was in office.

Outgoing Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (梁振英) also faces allegations of corruption over receiving a reported payment of HK$50 million (US$6.4 million) from Australian engineering firm UGL Ltd before he took office.