The Hong Kong Police Welfare Fund has received close to HK$180 million of donations over the past year amid large-scale protests, according to a report submitted to the legislature. It represents a 26-fold increase compared to the previous year.
In a 49-page annual report to the Legislative Council, the fund revealed donations from last April to March totalled HK$179,924,012. The amount skyrocketed from the HK$6.57 million recorded on March 31, 2019.
The surge in donations pushed the welfare fund’s total income for 2019/2020 up by eight times to HK$188.31 million, with its net assets valued at HK$258.5 million.
The most recent financial year of the fund saw citywide protests triggered by a now-withdrawn extradition bill. The months-long pro-democracy demonstrations often descended into violent clashes between police and protesters, as the force faced repeated accusations of misconduct.
The fund spent HK$74.98 million more compared to last year. The largest expenditure in the General Fund was refreshments for officers on special duties, which cost close to HK$65 million. The document did not specify what refreshments were distributed.
The fund allocated HK$9.78 million to grants for police and civilian officers in hardship, while HK$12.3 million was disbursed for expenses relating to staff relations.
The welfare fund – set up under the Police Force Ordinance – aims to provide and maintain amenities and grant loans and allowances to officers. It consists of five accounts, including The General Fund, Police Band Fund, Sir Siu-kin Tang Donation Fund, Music Bursary Fund and Further Education Fund.
Last week, legislators in Hong Kong passed a bill that provides for the appropriation of HK$62.6 billion for the previous financial year. The amount included HK$3 billion as additional expenses for the police arising from the 2019 to 2020 civil service pay adjustment and overtime allowances.
The government earmarked HK$25.8 million for the force in its annual budget announced in February – the close to 25 per cent rise in funding was set to cover crowd control gear and 2,543 extra personnel.
Democrats and human rights NGOs had opposed the budget boost, saying police should only ask for more funding and resources after misconduct and brutality allegations arising from protest operations were investigated through an independent probe.
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