Daily Information Bulletin - 1990s - 1997 - MAR - ENG

 DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Saturday, March 1,1997

Contents Page No,

Azalea open days at Government House.................................... 1

Public Consultation on Telecommunications Review........................ 2

New roles and responsibilities of school leaders........................ 3

Heavy penalty for ignoring improvement notices.......................... 4

Total solar eclipse..................................................... 5

Sunday, March 2,1997

Contents Page No,

HAD organises seminar for new arrivals.................................. 5

Teachers invited to design curriculum projects.......................... 6

Fees for Certificate of Competency of Boilers revised................... 7

Azalea open days at Government House * ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The Governor, the Rt Honourable Christopher Patten, has decided that the gardens of Government House will be open to the public for two days instead of just one Sunday as in the past so that more people will have a chance to see the azaleas at their best at the Governor's residence.

Mr Patten has also invited wheelchair users to visit the Government House gardens on a special open day for them.

Since 1968, the Azalea Day has become an institution and is normally held on a Sunday in late February or early March each year The Governor's decision to extend it to a whole weekend this year was made in response to a suggestion made to him at the public forum on his Policy Address in October last year.

The Gardens of Government house will be open to the public on March 8 and 9 (Saturday and Sunday) from 10 am to 5 pm.

For the open day for wheelchair users, including people with a disability and elderly persons, special access facilities will be set up for them.

The extra open day will be held on March 15 (Saturday) from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission for this open day will be by ticket and is arranged by the Commissioner for Rehabilitation through the Social Welfare Department, the Hospital Authority and other voluntary agencies.

The open day has been an annual event since 1968 and this year marks its 29th anniversary

In 1994. the event drew 17.432 visitors. The figure for 1995 was 17,650 Last year. 24,650 people attended the open day.

During the opening hours on March 8 and 9, all visitors are advised to enter the Government House by the east gate, which is located on Upper Albert Road facing the American Consulate. Special arrangements will be made on March 15 to facilitate the alighting and boarding of wheelchair users.

Visitors can leave by the main gate on Upper Albert Road or the west gate on Albert Path.

As a large number of people are anticipated, visitors are advised not to travel by private car or taxi. If they come by taxi or car, they are advised not to alight on Upper Albert Road.

End

2

Public Consultation on Telecommunications Review *****

The Government published today (Saturday) a consultation document on a comprehensive review of its policies in telecommunications.

Speaking after a briefing session on the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) Basic Telecommunications Agreement, Mr Alexander Arena, Head, Telecommunications Review said that ’’despite the fact that Hong Kong already enjoys a world-class telecommunications industry, we need to plan ahead to ensure the strength of Hong Kong's telecommunications sector continues to grow. The world telecommunications industry is operating in an increasingly competitive market as global trade in services continues to surge."

Hong Kong's telecommunications policies were last reviewed in 1992 and a position paper was subsequently issued in early 1994.

The current review will start on March 1, 1997. Its main objectives are -

a) examining, on the completion of 18 months since the opening up of local telephone service to competition, the current state of development of Hong Kong's telecommunications industry;

b) formulating policy options to respond to the foreseeable development of telecommunications technologies and the convergence of telecommunications, broadcasting and information technologies; and

c) developing strategic options, with a full analysis of "pros" and "cons" to maintain Hong Kong's leading position in telecommunications and competitiveness in the Information Age.

Members of the public are invited to submit their comments to the following by Friday April 11, 1997 -

Economic Services Branch

2/F, Central Government Offices (Main Wing)

Lower Albert Road

Hong Kong

(Fax : 2868 4679)

The public consultation document is available from OFTA's Internet home page (URL address : http://www.ofta.gov.hk). Copies of the consultation document will be available at Economic Services Branch or OFTA's Enquiry Counter from March 3, 1997 onwards, and at District Offices' Public Enquiry Counters from March 5, 1997.

End

- 3 -

New roles and responsibilities of school leaders

*****

The Director of Education, Mrs Helen C P Lai Yu this (Saturday) morning shared her views on the roles and responsibilities of school leaders with participants at the Conference on Designing Schools for the 21st Century - Considerations for Hong Kong's School Leaders.

Mrs Yu said school leaders had to assume new roles in quality development and quality assurance in the next century.

"We now ask them to be crusader, motivator, facilitator and learner -- all at the same time," she said.

She said a good leader should be a crusader with a clear vision for quality development, a true believer with firm conviction for quality culture.

He shares powers of decision-making and mobilises participation, yet appreciates the importance of accountability and accepts responsibility, she added.

"A school leader must be a motivator, where change begins and extends.

"He creates a climate for shared values, corporate decisions and joint action.

"Change would then permeate through the school, in beliefs and behaviour," Mrs Yu said.

Meanwhile, a school leader must be a facilitator and supporter, not just supervisor or controller.

He renders assistance and maximises resources. He provides opportunities for training and performance.

"He establishes an atmosphere for innovation, for collaboration and for pursuit of excellence in people as well as in the school environment," she said.

"A school leader must be a life-long learner. He keeps abreast of developments, not only in education but also in the society around him.

"He does not rest on faded glory or pasting traditions," she added.

Mrs Yu said the roles of school leader became ever more complex and so more interesting, more challenging and thus more rewarding.

He has to be both responsible and responsive, she noted.

End

- 4 -

Heavy penalty for ignoring improvement notices *****

The Labour Department today (Saturday) warned the proprietors to take measures promptly to improve the safety at work once the improvement notices were issued to them, otherwise they would face severe penalties.

The warning was made following three recent court cases in which three companies, namely Hang Fook Lau Seafood Restaurant Limited, Bowker Garment Factory Co. Ltd. and Hip Hing Machinery Factory, were convicted for ignoring improvement notices.

Improvement notices were issued to the three respective proprietors warning them to keep all doorways and exits free from obstruction. However, it was found that no improvements were made when follow-up inspection was conducted.

Hang Fook Lau Seafood Restaurant Limited at Tai Po Road was fined $20,000 for ignoring the improvement notice. An additional fine of $20,000 was imposed on the original offence of obstructing exits and doorways from the workplace which violated Regulation 5(1) of the Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Fire Precautions in Notifiable Workplaces) Regulations.

Bowker Garment Factory Co. Ltd. at Castle Peak Road was fined $10,000 and $10,000 respectively.

Hip Hing Machinery Factory at Tonkin Street was fined $10,000 and $22,000 respectively.

The maximum penalty for contravening an improvement notice is a fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for 12 months.

End

Total solar eclipse *****

There will be a total solar eclipse on March 9, 1997 (Sunday). Weather permitting, the event will be visible as a partial eclipse of the sun in Hong Kong.

Details of the eclipse are as follows:-

Hong Kong Time Azimuth Direction Elevation Degrees)

Sunrise 0638 East -1

Eclipse begins 0719 East 9

Maximum eclipse 0813 East-southeast 21

Eclipse ends 0912 East-southeast 34

The magnitude of the eclipse will be about 0.49. This means that 49 per cent of the sun's diameter will be obscured by the moon at the maximum eclipse.

The best place to observe the eclipse in Hong Kong will be on high grounds with no obstruction of sight to the east-southeast.

Special precautions must be taken to observe solar eclipses because of the blinding intensity of the sun's rays. Under no circumstances should the sun b- looked at directly without any protective measures. A safe and better method is to project the sun's image onto a screen and view the reflection.

The next solar eclipse observable in Hong Kong will not occur until August 22, 1998.

End

HAD organises seminar for new arrivals

*****

A group of new arrivals from the mainland learnt about the local employment situation and anti-corruption practices at a seminar organised by the Home Affairs Department's Eastern District Office at Fukien Middle School in North Point today (Sunday).

A spokesman for the Home Affairs Department said the seminar was tailored to the needs of the new immigrants, many of whom were looking for jobs.

- 6 -

Representatives from the Labour Department and the Employees Retraining Board briefed the new arrivals on the local job market, assistance offered by the Government for job hunters, and retraining of employees.

A representative of the Independent Commission Against Corruption gave a talk on the importance of fighting corruption.

’’The Government is committed to assisting new arrivals from the mainland to integrate into the community as quickly as possible.

"As a sizeable number of them have settled in the Eastern District, we will continue to identify their needs and make every effort to organise programmes specially designed for their needs," the spokesman said.

End

Teachers invited to design curriculum projects

*****

Teachers and heads of kindergartens, primary and secondary schools interested in the School-based Curriculum Project Scheme are reminded to submit their applications on or before March 15 (Saturday).

The objective of the scheme is to encourage teachers’ participation in curriculum development work.

Under the scheme, a curriculum project grant ranging from $9,800 to $42,550 will be provided to each project complementing the curriculum set out in the syllabuses or curriculum guidelines prepared by the Curriculum Development Council.

Projects should be specifically designed to cater for the varied needs, abilities and interests of pupils of individual schools.

Meanwhile, projects may include the design of new teaching approaches to specific topics in the curriculum; new topics or areas of studies as alternatives to certain aspects of the curriculum; and teaching/resource materials.

Monitoring panels will assess applications on whether they can meet the needs, abilities and interest of pupils of the try-out schools; and the aims of corresponding syllabuses or curriculum guidelines; whether they are practicable and creative.

Preference will be given to projects introducing new teaching approaches, topics or areas of studies which address current curriculum implementation issues in Hong Kong.

Teachers who are interested in participating in the scheme are requested to send in their completed application forms to the Research, Evaluation and Projects Section of the Education Department’s Curriculum Development Institute at Room 1012, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai on or before March 15.

Successful applicants will be notified in due course. Schools may submit more than one application.

Enquiries should be directed to the Research, Evaluation and Projects Section at 2892 5830 or 2892 5838.

End

Fees for Certificate of Competency of Boilers revised ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The fee for the issue of a Certificate of Competency to operate boilers and steam receivers under the Boilers and Pressure Vessels Regulation has been revised from $275 to $330 since February 14, 1997.

Also, the examination fee for the issue of such certificates was increased from $510 to $610 from the same day.

A Labour Department spokesman said that the fees were revised in accordance with the inflation rate. The fee revision was gazetted on January 3. 1997.

For enquiries, please contact the Boilers and Pressure Vessels Division of the Labour Department on 2852 4179.

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL.: 2842 8777

Monday, March 3,1997

Cmiisnis Page No.

Public welcomed to report faulty signs................................. 1

Statement by WSD on water supply to Ma On Shan......................... 2

Central allocation of primary one places............................... 2

1996 Population By-census data incinerated............................. 3

Water storage figure................................................... 4

1

Public welcomed to report faulty signs ♦ * * * *

Members of the public are welcomed to report faulty traffic signs and road markings to help maintain them in good and serviceable conditions.

’’All they have to do is to simply fill out a purposely-designed form and fax or post it to the Complaints Unit of Highways Department,” Chief Highway Engineer, Mr Lau Ka-keung, said.

Introducing this new public participation scheme today (Monday), Mr Lau said this new reporting system enabled members of the public to play a role in maintaining a good road sign and marking system in the territory.

”At their convenience, the reporting form can be handed in person to the Regional Offices of Highways Department or the Licensing Offices of Transport Department," Mr Lau said.

Items on the form will mainly help maintenance staff to locate the faulty signs or markings so that they could effect maintenance or rectification at the earliest possible time.

These include street name and direction, nearby landmarks or buildings, type of traffic signs and road markings as well as their conditions.

"We welcome reporters to include information such as location maps which can help us respond speedily," Mr Lau said.

In protecting personal data privacy, Chief Traffic Engineer of Transport Department, Mr Lee Yan-ming, said: "The reporting form is designed to request for only the reporter's name and telephone number in case we need to contact him/her for further details."

The forms will be available for collection at the four Transport Department’s Licensing Offices:

(1) Hong Kong Licensing Office at 3/F., United Centre, 95 Queensway, Hong Kong;

(2) Kowloon Licensing Office at 9/F, Park-in Commercial Centre, 56 Dundas Street, Kowloon;

(3) Kwun Tong Licensing Office at 5/F, Kowloon East Government Offices, 12 Lei Yue Mun Road, Kwun Tong;

(4) Sha Tin Licensing Office at 5/F, Citylink Plaza, Sha Tin Station, New Territories.

End

- 2 -

Statement by WSD on water supply to Ma On Shan *****

In response to the contamination of fresh water supply to Chung On Estate and Kam Fung Court in Ma On Shan by salt water last Saturday (March 1), a spokesman for the Water Supplies Department (WSD) said today (Monday):

’’Upon receipt of reports on the incident, the WSD, in conjunction with the Housing Department (HD), carried out thorough investigations immediately. The results confirmed that fresh water supplied to the two estates by the WSD remained normal and was free from contamination by salt water. The WSD was informed that contractors employed by the HD were laying internal water mains within the affected estates.

"The WSD also made immediate arrangements for water wagons to supply fresh water to the residents and assisted the HD in supervising the cleansing of the fresh water supply system in the estates.

"To safeguard the health of the residents, salt water supply to these estates was suspended.

"The WSD takes a very serious view of the incident. Salt water supply to the estates will not resume until the HD has established the cause of contamination and rectified the situation."

End

Central allocation of primary one places *****

All children who have applied for a public-sector primary one place but have not secured a discretionary place will be centrally allocated to a government or aided primary school for school entry in September 1997.

Parents will receive a letter from the School Places Allocation Section (Primary One Admission) of the Education Department requesting them to collect a "Choice of Schools" form and a list of all government and aided primary schools in their home Net from a specified distribution/collection centre between Saturday (March 8) and March 10 (Monday) from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm.

Senior Education Officer, Mrs Pak Au Tak-chuen, said all centres would remain open on Sunday (March 9).

Completed forms should be returned to the same centre within the specified

period.

She reminded parents that if they did not receive the letter by Friday (March 7), they should contact the School Places Allocation Section (Primary One Admission) on 2832 7700 immediately.

"The central allocation of primary one places is based on parental choices with no reference to the ’Points System’,” she said.

"However, when a school is oversubscribed, random numbers will be generated by the computer to decide the order of priority in allocating places of the school.

"This is to ensure fairness to all applicants," she added.

Parents who have moved house recently or are planning to move in the near future must inform the School Places Allocation Section (Primary One Admission) so that arrangements can be made to allocate a place to their children in their new home Net.

Results of the central allocation will be released in early June and details of arrangement will be announced later.

Parents are welcome to make use of the department’s automatic telephone enquiry service on 2891 0088 for the latest information on the central allocation.

End

1996 Population By-census data incinerated *****

Questionnaires containing data on individual persons, households and quarters collected in the 1996 Population By-census were incinerated this (Monday) morning at the Kwai Chung Incinerator under the direct supervision of staff of the Census and Statistics Department.

The Population By-census was conducted in mid-March 1996.

4

A spokesman for the Department explained that legislation stipulated that data on individual persons, households and quarters obtained from the 1996 Population Bycensus must be treated in strict confidence and all questionnaires containing such information must be destroyed within one year after the By-census.

He stressed that at all stages of the By-census operation, steps were taken to ensure that the confidentiality of individual data was strictly maintained. ’’Any identifications of enumerated individual persons or households from the questionnaires were not entered into the computer,” he added.

"Questionnaires completed in the By-census were destroyed in order to dispel any possible anxiety which the public might have over their use for non-statistical purposes in the future,” he said.

End

Water storage figure ♦ ♦ * * ♦

Storage in Hong Kong’s reservoirs at 9 am today (Monday) stood at 78.5 per cent of capacity or 460.322 million cubic metres.

This time last year the reservoirs contained 464.257 million cubic metres of water, representing 79.2 per cent of capacity.

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Tuesday, March 4, 1997

Contents Page No,

Legislative proposals to strengthen employment protection................. 1

UN assured of human rights protection in HK............................... 4

Hong Kong signs Air Services Agreement with Myanmar....................... 5

Transfer of VMs from HIDC main camp today................................. 6

Monitors’ Report submitted to CS.......................................... 7

Fireworks display to mark Lantau Link opening............................. 7

Land Registry statistics for February released............................ 8

Occupational Safety and Health Bulletin published......................... 9

Entries invited for chop design competition.............................. 10

Post Office datestamps will be bilingual................................. 12

Hong Kong Monetary Authority tender results.............................. 13

1

Legislative proposals to strengthen employment protection * * * * ♦

The Government has proposed a package of legislative measures to strengthen protection of employees against unreasonable termination of employment or variation of the terms of employment contracts and to give effect to a review of Hong Kong’s labour relations system.

The opportunity has also been taken to clarify the statutory entitlement of employees on fixed-term contracts to long service payments under the Employment Ordinance.

The proposals are contained in the Employment (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1997, Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill 1997 and Trade Unions (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1997 which will be gazetted this Friday (March 7) and introduced into the Legislative Council on March 19.

Speaking at a press conference today (Tuesday), Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung explained that these proposals aimed at improving the labour relations system, as well as employees’ rights and benefits. The proposals had all been endorsed earlier by the Labour Advisory Board.

According to Mr Cheung, the Employment (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill aimed at preventing unscrupulous employers from evading or reducing their liabilities to pay severance payment (SP) and long service payment (LSP) by terminating the employment of employees, or varying the terms of employment contracts, without valid reasons.

"The most common practices adopted by unscrupulous employers are to dismiss without cause an employee who is about to have five years of service in order to prevent him from qualifying for LSP, to vary an employment contract to become separate short-term contracts so that the employee can never attain the qualifying service, or to replace a contract of employment by a contract for services in order to exclude the employee from the coverage of the Employment Ordinance.

"The bill also seeks to enable employees who are dismissed on the ground of pregnancy, sick leave, exercise of trade union rights and giving evidence in proceedings for the enforcement of labour legislation— dismissals prohibited by law (or unlawful dismissals)— to lodge a civil claim against their employers for remedies. The remedies for such claims include reinstatement or re-engagement, pro-rata terminal payments and an award of compensation for an employee so dismissed," he said.

2

“The proposal is primarily designed to remove unscrupulous employment practices and should therefore have no effect on reputable employers,” Mr Cheung emphasised.

Under this proposal, an employee may make a claim and be granted remedies unless the employer can prove that the dismissal or variation is due to one or more of the following valid reasons :

the employee’s conduct;

the capability or qualifications of the employee for performing work of the kind which he was employed by the employer to do;

redundancy or other genuine operational requirements of the business;

statutory requirements, i.e., it would be a contravention of the law by the employer and/or the employee if the employee were to continue to work in his original position, or under the original term(s) in his employment contract; or

some other substantial reason(s).

To make a claim for unreasonable termination of employment, an employee has to be employed in a continuous contract for a period of not less than two years.

"This qualifying requirement is the same as that under unfair dismissal legislation in the United Kingdom and that for entitlement to severance payment in the event of dismissal by reason of redundancy," Mr Cheung said.

However, there is no qualifying service requirement for a claim regarding unreasonable variation of the term(s) of the contract of employment, lest this will easily defeat the purpose if an employer varies the contract terms before the employee attains the qualifying service for certain statutory benefits. There is also no qualifying service requirement for claims relating to the above unlawful dismissals, but the employee must have done the things relevant to the grounds of dismissal within 12 months preceding the dismissal.

Mr Cheung said that the court or Labour Tribunal might make an order of reinstatement or re-engagement, award of terminal payments and/or compensation, if a claim is established.

"An order for reinstatement or re-engagement may be made only if it is agreed by both parties, and the court or the Labour Tribunal shall first consider whether to make an order for reinstatement before considering whether to make an order for reengagement."

3

If no order for reinstatement or re-engagement is made, or the employer has not complied with an order for reinstatement or re-engagement, the employee shall be entitled to an award of terminal payments. These refer to those sums payable under the Employment Ordinance upon termination of the employment contract by an employer, (including LSP, SP, wages in lieu of notice, annual leave pay, end of year payment, holiday pay and other payments) which the employee would have been entitled to receive if he had been allowed to continue his original employment. The terminal payments would be calculated on the basis of the actual length of service of the employee.

In addition to terminal payments, an award of compensation may also be made payable to the employee by the employer in respect of an unlawful dismissal to compensate the employee for the damage or hardship caused. The maximum amount of the compensation is $150,000.

As regards procedures for filing claims, an employee should make a claim by giving a written notice to the employer within three months of the dismissal or the effective date of the variation of the term(s) of the contract of employment. This deadline may be extended for a period up to six months by the Commissioner for Labour if there are good grounds for late submission. Alternatively, he may lodge a claim with the Labour Tribunal within nine months of the dismissal.

"This serves to ensure that a claim under this proposal will not arise from a dismissal which took place an unduly long time ago in the past," Mr Cheung said.

To clarify the legislative intent under the existing provisions of LSP in respect of the entitlement of employees on fixed-term contracts to LSP, the Government also proposes to amend the Employment Ordinance to make it clear that if an employee on a fixed term contract declines an offer of renewal or re-engagement by the employer which is on no less favourable terms than his existing contract, he shall not be entitled to LSP.

"This should remove the present ambiguity on the entitlement of fixed-term employees' entitlements to LSP," Mr Cheung said.

Turning to the Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill, Mr Cheung said that the Commissioner for Labour would be given greater flexibility in making submissions on trade disputes to the Governor-in-Council upon receipt of a report by a conciliation officer without having to appoint a special conciliation officer.

"The proposal would have the benefit of imposing greater pressure on the disputing parties to come to a settlement through ordinary conciliation, lest the Govemor-in-Council may order any appropriate action, including arbitration and setting up a board of inquiry.

4

"We also propose under this bill to introduce a mediation procedure to empower the Commissioner for Labour to refer a dispute to mediation without seeking the prior consent of the parties concerned," he said.

As regards the Trade Unions (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, Mr Cheung pointed out that the bill sought to extend the existing immunity for registered trade unions from civil litigation in respect of any act done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute to cover individual employers, employees, officials and members of trade unions who are involved in a trade dispute.

End

UN assured of human rights protection in HK *****

Fundamental human rights enshrined in international treaties and guaranteed in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law will continue to be protected and valued in Hong Kong, Deputy Solicitor General, Mr Stephen Wong, told the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva on Monday (Geneva time).

In an opening statement to the first day hearing of the committee examining the 14th periodic report on Hong Kong under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), Mr Wong, leader of the Hong Kong team forming part of the British delegation, highlighted several developments in the territory since the examination of the 13th report last March.

Updating committee members on the progress of the Government’s study on racial discrimination, he said a consultation document to gauge public opinion on the issue had been released.

He said members of the public has been asked to submit their views by the end of April and that the Administration is "on target" to report to the Legislative Council within the current legislative session.

On the question of nationality in relation to the territory's ethnic minorities, Mr Wong said the United Kingdom Government's decision to grant full citizenship to members of the ethnic minority who are solely British nationals had been warmly welcomed by all in Hong Kong.

5

Regarding the education opportunities for Vietnamese children in the detention centres, he said the Hong Kong Government had provided assistance for secondary schools organised by Vietnamese migrants and non-govemment organisations and commissioned the International Social Service to co-ordinate the provision of secondary education in the detention centres.

On the broad human rights front, Mr Wong said Hong Kong's human rights "portfolio" had been enhanced by the addition of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

"China is, of course, a State Party to that Convention and has confirmed that -like the ICERD - it will continue to apply to Hong Kong after the change of sovereignty on July 1 this year," he said.

Meanwhile, a complementary development was the setting up of the Equal Opportunities Commission last May to ensure the implementation of the new laws against discrimination on the grounds of sex and disability, he said.

"The Commission started work in September last year and is now actively handling complaints and enquiries and disseminating the message of equal opportunities for all," he added.

As to the court proceedings, Mr Wong said: "We continue to extend the use of Chinese and to reduce court waiting time. We are taking steps to ensure that there will be no unreasonable delay in the hearing of cases brought under our Bill of Rights Ordinance and the new Sex Discrimination and Disability Discrimination Ordinances.

Delegation members will respond to questions raised by committee members when the meeting continues today (Tuesday, Geneva time).

End

Hong Kong signs Air Services Agreement with Myanmar *****

The Hong Kong Government today (Tuesday) signed an air services agreement with the Government of the Union of Myanmar.

The agreement was signed by the Secretary for Economic Services, Mr Stephen Ip, on behalf of the Hong Kong Government and the Deputy Director General of the Department of Civil Aviation, Ministry of Transport, Myanmar, Mr Maung Maung Zan, on behalf of the Government of the Union of Myanmar.

6

Mr Ip noted the potential for the development of tourism, trade and other economic links between Hong Kong and Myanmar. "Direct air services between the two places play an important role in enhancing our economic relations," Mr Ip said.

Mr Ip pointed out the importance of the Hong Kong/Myanmar Air Services Agreement in providing a firm and stable legal framework for the development of air services between Myanmar and Hong Kong up to and beyond June 30, 1997.

The Hong Kong/Myanmar Agreement is the 17th air services agreement signed by Hong Kong. Hong Kong has signed similar agreements with the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, Brunei, France, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Australia, Germany, Korea, Singapore, Italy, India and Japan.

End

Transfer of VMs from HIDC main camp today ♦ ♦ * ♦ ♦

A group of 91 Vietnamese migrants in High Island Detention Centre, including 22 from the North Camp and 69 from the South Camp, will be transferred to the Centre's Security Unit today (Tuesday) in preparation for their return to Vietnam under the Orderly Repatriation Programme.

They will go through pre-flight documentation and medical checks prior to their repatriation on March 11.

The transfer will be observed by independent monitors.

End

7

Monitors’ Report submitted to CS ♦ * ♦ ♦ ♦

The monitors appointed to observe the transfer of Vietnamese migrants selected for the Orderly Repatriation Programme from the High Island Detention Centre’s main camps to its Security Unit this (Tuesday) morning have submitted their report to the Chief Secretary.

The four monitors comprised two non-official Justices of the Peace, Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek and Mr Francis Bong Shu-ying; and representatives from two non-govemment organisations, Ms Fung Ka-po from Medecins Sans Frontieres and Ms Harriet Sewell from Christian Action.

End

Fireworks display to mark Lantau Link opening ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

A spectacular fireworks display will be among the special attractions marking the official opening of the Lantau Link, a key project in the Airport Core Programme, on Sunday, April 27.

The Govemor-in-Council has today (Tuesday) given its approval to the staging of a fireworks display, which is sponsored by Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited.

The $5 million display, which coincides with the sponsor’s 25th anniversary, will form part of the opening ceremony for the Lantau Link being organised by the New Airport Projects Co-ordination Office (NAPCO) to mark the completion of the Airport Core Programme transport corridor.

The former British Prime Minister, Baroness Thatcher, will officiate at the opening ceremony.

Beginning at 8 pm, and lasting for 20 minutes, the fireworks display will take two different forms.

In a first for Hong Kong, one form will be as a fireworks waterfall flowing from the southern rim of the Tsing Ma Bridge onto the sea. This will last for 45 seconds.

8

In the other form, the fireworks will be discharged from barges positioned to the north of the bridge.

Various supporting activities in connection with the fireworks display are being co-ordinated by NAPCO, with the assistance of other government departments, including the Home Affairs Department, Marine Department, the Police, and the Transport Department.

An interdepartmental working group has been working on arrangements for crowd control, traffic and public transport for the display, which is expected to attract large numbers of spectators.

It is envisaged that the section of Castle Peak Road between Ting Kau and Sham Tseng and the nearby beaches are places where large crowds are expected to congregate. The current plan is to pedestrianise a section of Castle Peak Road which will lead to a series of traffic diversions and road closures on the day of the event.

Details of these arrangements will be announced later after consultation with the local residents and the relevant District Boards.

End

Land Registry statistics for February released ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

A total of 16,979 sale and purchase agreements for building units, including residential and non-residential properties, were lodged with the Land Registry last month (February).

The figure represented a decrease of 13.9 per cent from January this year and an increase of 85.1 per cent over February last year.

The total consideration of these agreements in the month was $73.5 billion, down 15.1 per cent but up 182.4 per cent respectively when compared with the amounts for January 1997 and February last year.

The figures were contained in the monthly statistics released today (Tuesday) by the Land Registry on deeds relating to property transactions received for registration in the Urban and New Territories Land Registries in February 1997.

9

Relevant statistics for January 1997 and February 1996 were provided for comparison. Figures on sale and purchase agreements received for the past 12 months and the year-on-year rate of change were also released.

These statistics generally related to land transactions executed up to four weeks prior to their submission for registration, as there is usually a time lag between the execution of deeds and their lodgement for registration.

End

Occupational Safety and Health Bulletin published

*****

The Labour Department has published a new bulletin for local employers and employees informing them of the latest developments on the occupational safety and health front.

The Occupational Safety and Health Bulletin gives prominent coverage to the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Bill, a new piece of legislation which when enacted later this year, will protect the safety and health of employees in both industrial and non-industrial sectors.

’’The bill and its subsidiary regulations are a milestone event for Hong Kong. We hope that this colourful, pictorial and easy-to-read bulletin can disseminate the latest occupational safety and health message to employers and employees,” Deputy Commissioner for Labour (Occupational Safety and Health), Mr Lee Kai-fat, said today (Tuesday).

Mr Lee said that a total of 130,000 copies of the bulletin were produced and copies of the bulletin had been sent by direct mail to every employer emploj ing more than five persons.

"We are trying to reach the medium and small establishments. It is a difficult but necessary task to get the message across," Mr Lee said.

Mr Lee urged employers to circulate the bulletin to senior management as well as to the shop floor.

The bulletin also gives a brief account of the two subsidiary regulations of the Bill - the Occupational Safety and Health Regulation and the Occupational Safety and Health (Display Screen Equipment) Regulation. It also contains details of an Occupational Safety and Health Seminar to be held in April.

10

In order to promote occupational and industrial safety, the Labour Department has launched the Occupational Safety Charter and the Hong Kong Construction Safety Award Scheme respectively. These two large-scale functions are also featured in the bulletin.

Safety training for the construction industry, electrical safety and the introduction of a trial scheme to test the safety management systems in real operation are also mentioned.

To give readers an idea on the industrial safety performance in Hong Kong, the bulletin also publishes tables illustrating the number of industrial accidents in 1996 with comparison to those in 1995.

Additional copies of the bulletin can be obtained from the field offices of the Occupational Safety and Health Branch (OSHB) of the Labour Department and the district offices early next week.

Interested parties can also get extra copies by calling the Safety Promotion Unit of the Support Services Division of the OSHB at 2852 4927.

In addition to this bulletin, the Labour Department will soon publish several other user-friendly pamphlets and booklets to support the OSH Bill. They include "Working with Employers", "Five Steps to Risk Assessment", "Construction Safety and Health Checklist" and "Fire Safety in Workplaces".

End

Entries invited for chop design competition *****

Entries are now invited for a chop design competition jointly organised by the Home Affairs Department (HAD) and the Hong Kong Council of Social Service.

The competition is aimed at enhancing public understanding of the social services available in Hong Kong and arousing interest in volunteer work.

An HAD spokesman said today (Tuesday) the competition was a prelude to the Volunteer Trail - a territory-wide community-building and caring project to be organised from May to August to encourage visits to various welfare service units grouped under nine districts.

11

"Under this project, a few hundred social welfare units will be open to members of the public for visiting. Members of the three tiers of assemblies, prominent community figures and Government officials will also be invited to visit some units. It is hoped that the visitors will develop a better understanding of the services provided by the units and the channels through which they may enrol as volunteers.

"Visitors will each be provided with a ’passport’, which will be stamped with the chop of the respective district after each visit. Anyone whose ’passport’ contains three or more chops may be eligible for a souvenir pin.

"To add colour to the project, design entries for the nine districts are now being invited. Each district will select the best chop design for use in the Volunteer Trail project. The winners will be awarded. The one who produces the best of all designs will receive an additional prize.

"The chop designs should encourage mutual care in the community and highlight the characteristics of the respective district. They should measure 1.5 inches by 1.5 inches.

"Each participant can submit a maximum of three entries for each district. All entries should reach the organising committee of the Volunteer Trail by March 31," the spokesman said.

The nine districts are: Central, Western, Southern and Islands; Wan Chai and Eastern; Kwun Tong and Sai Kung; Kowloon City and Wong Tai Sin; Sham Shui Po and Yau Tsim Mong; Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing; Tuen Mun and Yuen Long; Sha Tin; as well as North District and Tai Po.

Entry forms are now available at the various District Offices and from the organising committee of the Volunteer Trail at 13th floor, Duke of Windsor Social Service Building, 15 Hennessy Road. Wan Chai, Hong Kong. Enquiries can be made on 2864 2929.

End

12

Post Office datestamps will be bilingual *****

The Acting Postmaster General, Mr P C Luk, announced today (Tuesday) that the existing datestamps of the Post Office will be replaced by datestamps with bilingual indications.

The franker dies of all franking machines of the Post Office will also be replaced by bilingual dies.

The change in design of postmarks and franking impressions is expected to be of interest to philatelists.

To make it convenient for those who are interested in obtaining the last day impressions of the existing datestamps and the first day impressions of the new datestamps, the changeover has been arranged in 9 phases from March to May 1997.

Once the new datestamps are put into use, the existing datestamps of the offices concerned will be withdrawn and will become obsolete.

Hand back service will be provided at the offices concerned to privately made covers bearing indication of’Last Day Cover’ on the day preceding the changeover and ’First Day Cover’ on the day the new datestamps come into use.

The existing franking impressions of the Post Office franking machines will also be changed into the new design as from the same dates as for the changeover of the handstamps.

As franking impressions will only be applied on parcels and Speedpost items posted over the counter, no hand back service will be provided.

Enquiries about the change may be directed to the Telephone Enquiry Bureau of the Post Office at 2921 2222.

End

13

Hong Kong Monetary Authority tender results ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Tender date

4 March 1997

Paper on offer : EF Bills

Issue number : Q710

Issue date : 5 March 1997

Maturity date : 4 June 1997

Amount applied : HK$6,930 MN

Amount allotted : HK$2,000 MN

Average yield accepted : 4.90 PCT

Highest yield accepted : 4.92 PCT

Pro rata ratio : About 7 PCT

Average tender yield : 4.94 PCT

Hong Kont Monetary Authority

Tender to be held in the week beginning - 10 March 1997

Tender date

Paper on offer

Issue number

Issue date

Maturity date

Tenor

11 March 1997

EF Bills

Q711

12 March 1997

11 June 1997

91 days

Amount on offer

HK$2,000 MN + 500 MN

14

Tender date : 11 March 1997

Paper on offer : EF Bills

Issue number : H760

Issue date : 12 March 1997

Maturity date : 10 September 1997

Tenor : 182 Days

Amount on offer : HK$ 1,000 MN + 300 MN

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Wednesday, March 5,1997

Content Page No,

Transcript of Governor's media session.................................... 1

Governor visits Islands District.......................................... 6

Handover Ceremony for Hong Kong........................................... 6

HKNPL to have new shareholder............................................. 7

Truly bilingual court system to be in place............................... 8

Removal operation against cooling towers.................................. 9

Outward processing arrangement rationalised.......................... 11

Quarry to turn green through rehabilitation works........................ 12

Visits to bedspace apartment tenants and street sleepers................. 13

Booklet on use of potent/toxic Chinese herbs published................... 15

Operator and staff of unlicensed guesthouse fined........................ 16

Seminar and training guide for security personnel........................ 17

Garrison gets physical............................................... 18

1

Transcript of Governor's media session ♦ * * * ♦

Following is the transcript of the Governor, the Rt Hon Christopher Patten's media session after his visit to the Islands District today (Wednesday):

Governor: Don't say I don't bring you to some nice places. This is the fourth official visit I have made to the Islands District and though of course like most of you I have been to Island District on many other occasions, I am very pleased to have been able to see some of the community's activities and to discuss some of the serious issues that people face in the district. There is obviously particular concern on Lantau that people on the south of the island should be able to share in the prosperity and the creation of jobs which is taking place with the airport project on the north, and that is an issue that I will be discussing with my colleagues in government on my return.

Question: Governor, Mr Wong Siu-yee has opened the provisional legislature office this morning in (inaudible), what is your reaction?

Governor: Mr who?

Question: Mr Wong Siu-yee, he is a provisional legislator.

I M

Governor: I’ve never heard of him. Perhaps he is trying to get better known.

Question: So (inaudible) Hong Kong Government?

Governor: Anybody who acts to set up an organisation in Hong Kong has to operate within the terms of the Societies Ordinance and if anybody has a complaint about how somebody is acting, they should put it to the police who will investigate.

Question: But this office is in the name of a provisional legislator.

Governor: I have never heard of him and I have never heard of his office.

Question: So do you think that his office is (inaudible)?

Governor: I haven't got the faintest idea. Since I have never heard of the man before and never heard of his office before, and since he purports to belong to an organisation which meets on occasional Saturday mornings in Shenzhen, I am not sure that I could be expected to answer any more questions about him.

Question: Now you have heard that, what action will you take?

Governor: I have answered as much about this previously unknown person as I want to.

2

Question: Governor -

Governor: Yes, let's go on to something serious.

Question: -- will you be putting up any proposals to Mrs Ogata on how to resolve the problem of the Boat People whose identities have not been established yet?

Governor: We are very pleased indeed that Mrs Ogata is coming to Hong Kong. We have been working very closely with the UNHCR over the years, as you know, to deal with this very difficult problem, and with their assistance Hong Kong has now coped with over 200,000 Vietnamese migrants, some of them refugees, some of them not. We are now in a situation where the number of migrants is less than 5,000. We have returned about 15,000 since the beginning of last year - perhaps rather more - and there are also about 1,300 refugees who remain a problem which the UNHCR and all of us are concerned about.

Clearly, we want to ensure that we continue the rate of progress in returning migrants under the Orderly Repatriation Programme that we managed last year. The problem, as you probably know, is clearance of names at the moment with the Vietnamese authorities. It is an issue which has been taken up with the Vietnamese at the highest level by the British Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary, the Minister of State, and we will be discussing with the UNHCR what more we can do.

The particular problem that we face is a reluctance on the part of the Vietnamese to clear rapidly those that they say arc ethnically Chinese. It is clearly not a matter of complete principle because about 6,000 ethnically Chinese Vietnamese migrants have returned to Vietnam, so I hope we will be able to persuade, with the help of Mrs Ogata and her officials, the Vietnamese to be more helpful.

1 have to say that if their worry is that accepting back these people will be a precedent for the 260,000 or so ethnic Chinese Vietnamese who are in China since the 1978 war. then it would help if the Chinese authorities themselves could make it clear to the Vietnamese Government that they would not regard taking back ethnic Chinese Vietnamese from Hong Kong as a precedent for the 260.000 or so who are in China. I think rather than just criticise the excellent efforts made by the Hong Kong Government to return the migrants, it would be helpful if the Chinese authorities could actually give us some assistance by making that point absolutely clear to the Vietnamese Government.

That was a serious question.

3

Question: Sir, is Mr Michael Suen and other officials to be seconded to Mr Tung Chee I Iwa's office very soon?

Governor: I discussed this request with Mr Tung on Monday morning when I saw him. We had a useful discussion about it and we will be making an announcement shortly. As you know, we said many months ago that we would want to be as helpful as possible to the Chief Executive (designate) and as helpful as was consistent with continuing the good administration of Hong Kong. We intend to keep our word.

But I would just make one point. While I think one or two more secondments may be sensible, from June 30 the Hong Kong Government, the whole team of civil servants, is the team that will be working for the Chief Executive. So 1 very much hope that in the coming months he will be able to meet more of those who will be working with him full-time from July 1, and that we won't have to think very much more about people being seconded to his private office after this.

Question: What is your reaction to the (inaudible) to urge the government to clarify this (inaudible) said that the Government was disappointed to be asked for senior officers? It seems like two governments exist in Hong Kong.

Governor: No, I think that it is reasonable that the Chief Executive (designate) should have a team to help him prepare for his Policy Address for example, and for his other initiatives from July 1. But I think we are probably getting to about the stage where, as I have said, there should be enough people working for Mr Tung. He has got quite a lot of people there in his team now and I am sure that in any event he will want to be talking to other policy secretaries on their existing areas of responsibility. It is more sensible for him to talk to them in their present jobs than to move a lot more people across.

Question: How can you ensure that the seconded Secretary will not have to work on the provisional legislature?

Governor: What I would certainly not do, and the community knows this is my view, is to second people like parliamentary draftsmen whose sole and principal function would be to assist the provisional legislature. Beyond that it is for Mr Tung to explain and justify the work that civil servants do for him. But he has made it clear that he respects the integrity of civil servants, that he does not want to put civil servants in a difficult situation and he has also made it clear that if civil servants don't want to transfer to his private office, then he will understand that situation.

4

Question: Governor, I was given an opinion-poll that was published today - I don't know if this counts as a serious question but 1'11 put it - which suggested that at least half the people in Hong Kong feel that the Governor's position is becoming increasingly irrelevant as time goes along. How do you respond? You are very dismissive about the provisional legislature but they and not you will be powerful in a hundred days.

Governor: It is perfectly true that there is a limit to what the Government is able to do in the next four months but there is rather a lot we have done in the last four years and eight months. And I very much hope that Mr Tung's administration will be able to do as much to strengthen the economy and work for the livelihood of the people of Hong Kong in the next five years as the Government has been able to do in the last five.

Question: There is a suggestion also, from the poll, that people feel that perhaps (inaudible) to the provisional legislature, it might be more helpful if you muted that and ceased to criticise it and regarded it as more of a team-player towards the handover. Is there any chance of that?

Governor: Look, the team-players are supposed to be China and Mainland officials who are supposed to co-operate with the Hong Kong Government and the British Government in the good management of Hong Kong until 30 June. We should remember what Article 30 of the Joint Declaration says. We should also remember that the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law talk about a legislature constituted by elections. There is no reference in the Basic Law to a provisional legislature.

And there is one thing people in Hong Kong know about me. Whether they agree with me or not, they know that when I say what I intend to do I stick to it. I have made the Government's position on the Legislative Council, on this business in Shenzhen, 1 have made the Government's position on those things absolutely crystal clear. And I don't intend changing my mind, the British Government doesn't intend changing its mind, the Hong Kong Government doesn't intend changing its mind. People should recognise that the existence of this body is not making friends for Hong Kong around the world.

Question: About the JLG plenary session, do you expect major progress will be made in the next JLG plenary session?

Governor: I hope we will make some progress. I would very much like to see us making progress, for example, on an issue like Air Service Agreements where there is still plenty of detailed and important work to do and where we haven't made sufficiently rapid progress. 1 would also like to see an agreement on right of abode because I think that is an issue which concerns the community and concerns many from the community who are now living abroad who would like to come back to Hong Kong. So I hope we make progress on those issues.

5

I think sometimes people underestimate the amount that has been achieved in the Joint Liaison Group, albeit sometimes painfully slowly. But there is still more to do and I hope we can get some more agreements under our belt in March, preparatory to the last meeting before the handover in June.

Question: Will you talk about the handover ceremony? Will the Hong Kong Government agree that the bodyguards of Mainland (inaudible) foreigners can get carry along with their weapons?

Governor: Well, we will behave in the same sensible way that we have always behaved. On the whole, visitors to Hong Kong, even very distinguished visitors, don't come with armed-bodyguards. But there are exceptions, for example, for heads of state and for some very senior visitors. But we work these things out. The Commissioner does it with his opposite numbers in a perfectly sensible way.

1 don't think anybody in the community wants to see Hong Kong, at a time when we want to be celebrating, turned into an armed camp, and that is certainly not going to happen.

We very much hope that we can get on with the invitations to the handover as soon as possible. Some invitations are being given rather informally. 1 am delighted at what Mr Qian said about Secretary of State Albright. It was interesting that he said that because 1 think within hours of her appointment. Malcolm Rifkind when he spoke to her had also invited her to come to Hong Kong for the handover. So it is nice to see Mr Rifkind and Mr Qian at one on this.

Question: (inaudible) an example of the ground force with the Chinese officials (inaudible)?

Governor: I don't think Chinese officials need to be excessively concerned about their security in Hong Kong. This is one of the safest places in the world, and that is true for Chinese officials just as it is true for the Governor, the Chief Executive (designate) and visitors from other countries and communities as well. But obviously, as I said, there are occasional cases involving very senior officials when we do make exceptions. That is not remarkable. The same thing would happen in other free societies where people don't walk around all the time with large numbers of armed-bodyguards.

But I think what is fundamental is that everybody attending the handover, including representatives from the Mainland and including British representatives, should recognise that with the Hong Kong Police unambiguously in charge of security arrangements, everybody can go about enjoying and taking part in these very momentous events with complete peace of mind. Thank you very much indeed.

End

6

Governor visits Islands District *****

The Governor, the Rt Hon Christopher Patten, today (Wednesday) visited Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island and Mui Wo to see the latest developments in the Islands District.

Accompanied by the Director of Home Affairs, Mrs Shelley Lau; the Islands District Officer, Christopher Wong and the Chairman of Regional Council and Islands District Board Chairman, Mr Daniel Lam, the Governor first proceeded to Yung Shue Wan to view the latest developments along the shoreline of Yung Shue Wan.

He also joined a Lunar New Year Carnival for the aged at a local restaurant and was entertained by singing and dancing performance.

At Mui Wo, Mr Patten took in a bird’s view of developments across Mui Wo from the roof top of Ngan Wan Estate, Mui Wo. He was also briefed on the implementation of the Rural Planning and Improvement Strategy Minor Work projects to further improve the hinterland of Mui Wo Plain.

Before concluding the visit, the Governor met Islands District Board members and community leaders at a tea reception at NT Heung Yee Kuk Southern District Secondary School.

End

Handover Ceremony for Hong Kong *****

In accordance with the Agreed Minute of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group on the Handover Ceremony for Hong Kong, the Chinese and British sides met on March 5, 1997 in Hong Kong to discuss media arrangements for covering the Handover Ceremony within the framework of normal internationally accepted practice. Both sides acknowledge that the Hong Kong Handover Ceremony is an important event jointly held by the British and Chinese Governments. Both sides welcome journalists representing media organisations from all over the world to cover the Handover Ceremony. In order to ensure the smooth coverage of the event by the media, the two sides have agreed to entrust the Hong Kong Government to receive and process applications from journalists, as well as handle and arrange other matters relating to media coverage of the Handover Ceremony.

7

Media organisations which are interested in covering the Handover Ceremony should submit applications together with personal particulars of their representatives to the Information Services Division of the Handover Ceremony Coordination Office of the Hong Kong Government before April 7, 1997. Application forms will be distributed by the Handover Ceremony Coordination Office from March 15, 1997 onwards.

In addition, a Press and Broadcast Centre will be established to facilitate media coverage of the Handover Ceremony. Media organisations from different countries and regions are welcome to use the Press and Broadcast Centre and its facilities and services.

End

HKNPL to have new shareholder * ♦ * * ♦

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced today (Wednesday) that the Financial Secretary has entered into an agreement with the China Banknote Printing and Minting Corporation (CBPMC) to sell 3,825,000 Ordinary Shares of the Hong Kong Note Printing Limited (HKNPL). The consideration for the sale of these shares, which represent 15% of the issued share capital of the HKNPL, is HK$42.5mn.

HKNPL, which operates a banknote printing plant in Tai Po, is fully owned by the Hong Kong Government through the Exchange Fund. The HKNPL was acquired by the Hong Kong Government in April 1996 and its main line of business is the printing of HK$ banknotes.

"I am pleased to have CBPMC participating in HKNPL as a minority shareholder. 1 am sure that HKNPL will benefit from this new business relationship, given CBPMC's expertise in banknote printing and its position in China in the security printing business," said Mr Donald Tsang, the Financial Secretary.

CBPMC is a subsidiary enterprise of the People's Bank of China responsible for the printing and minting of RMB currency. It possesses comprehensive expertise in banknote printing, including design, plate-making and printing of banknotes. It also manufactures anti-counterfeit papers and printing inks. CBPMC currently operates 15 printing and minting plants as well as a technology development institute.

8

In welcoming CBPMC's participation in HKNPL, the Chief Executive of HKMA and Chairman of the HKNPL Board of Directors, Mr Joseph Yam said, "As a small and stand-alone banknote printing operation, HKNPL must be able to tap the best technical know-how in this highly specialised field. While the printing of HK$ banknotes will continue to be its core, and profitable, business, HKNPL needs to explore other security printing business opportunities both within and outside Hong Kong. I am sure that CBPMC's participation as a business partner will strengthen HKNPL's ability to explore such opportunities in the years ahead."

End

Truly bilingual court system to be in place

*****

The Hong Kong Government is committed to putting in place before July 1 this year on a phased basis a truly bilingual court system which allows the use of Chinese, along with English, in courts of all levels, the Deputy Solicitor General, Mr Stephen Wong, told the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva on Tuesday (Geneva time).

Mr Wong, leader of the Hong Kong Government team forming part of the British delegation, was responding to a question on the use of Chinese in Hong Kong courts raised by Professor Rudiger Wolfum, a member of the committee which examines the 14th periodic report under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

He said the Government had made considerable progress towards that goal and is confident of achieving it in good time.

"While English will continue to be used in our courts, as appropriate, there is a growing need for more Chinese to be used in legal proceedings.

"The Attorney General's Chambers of Hong Kong will address this need by completing the authentication of Chinese texts, promoting wider use of bilingual prosecution documents, and training government lawyers on advocacy in Chinese," he said.

9

As to the question on why there is no provision in the Bill of Rights Ordinance (BORO) to protect Hong Kong people from racial discrimination, Mr Wong said the decision to exclude inter-citizen rights from the BORO was based on concerns expressed by the community before its enactment about the legal uncertainty that might be created by applying the BORO to the private sector.

"The Hong Kong Government believes that, where appropriate, it is more effective to protect inter-citizen rights by specific legislation in areas where the need for a remedy for the infringement of inter-citizen rights is most commonly felt.

"We have already taken concrete steps in this direction, such as the enactment of legislation against sex and disability discrimination and protection of individual privacy in respect of personal data," he said.

Responding to concern expressed by a member, Professor Theodoor van Boven, about the Equal Opportunities (Race) Bill sponsored by Legislative Councillor, Mrs Elizabeth Wong, Mr Wong said a consultation paper had been issued to gauge public views on racial discrimination.

"We are currently seeking the public's view on the possible way forward and we believe measures that are eventually adopted must have public support.

"We are grateful to the Committee which supported this approach in its concluding observations on the 13th report last year. We will seek to persuade Legislative Councillors in Hong Kong to take these considerations into account and await the outcome of the consultation," he added.

Meanwhile, the Committee commended the report as a model for others, particularly in respect of follow-up reports. The responding point-by-point to each of the Committee's questions was an exemplary contribution to the ongoing dialogue between the Committee and the State Party.

Committee members also thanked the delegation for the openness and thoroughness in their replies and a constructive dialogue during the hearing.

The Committee is expected to release its concluding observations in a few weeks' time.

End

10

Removal operation against cooling towers * * * ♦ ♦

The Buildings Department has launched a large-scale operation since March 1 to remove abandoned and dilapidated water cooling towers from buildings in the industrial areas of Tsuen Wan, Kwai Chung, and Kwun Tong to protect public safety.

Giving details of the operation this (Wednesday) morning, the Department's Chief Building Surveyor (Control and Enforcement), Mr Au Choi-kai, estimated some 1,800 cooling towers in 720 buildings would need to be removed.

A dedicated team, headed by a senior engineer and comprising five technical staff, has been set up for the task. The whole operation will take about 30 months to complete.

Mr Au said a similar operation, successfully completed in November last year, had been carried out in Chai Wan and San Po Kong since January 1995.

"During the first operation, we inspected 145 industrial buildings and subsequently identified 1,043 abandoned or defective water cooling towers and airconditioner supporting frames.

"A total of 1,043 advisory letters and 572 removal orders were then served on the owners and occupants requiring them to remove those unauthorised building works.

"We are glad that at the end, all the dangerous towers and structures were removed by the owners voluntarily and no Government enforcement action was needed," Mr Au said.

He pointed out that most of the owners were very co-operative in the removal operation as they all realised the danger posed by abandoned cooling towers.

"I would urge all owners and occupants of industrial buildings in Tsuen Wan. Kwai Chung and Kwun Tong to render the same support to our staff to remove the dangerous structures," he said.

End

11

Outward processing arrangement rationalised

*****

The Trade Department will launch a Rationalised Outward Processing Arrangement (ROPA) next month to facilitate manufacturers in the outward processing of subsidiary and minor finishing processes of their products.

The existing Outward Processing Arrangement (OPA) operated by the Department enables registered manufacturers to subcontract outside Hong Kong the subsidiary or minor finishing processes without affecting the eligibility of such goods for a Certificate of Hong Kong Origin (CHKO).

A prerequisite for participation in the OPA is that the goods must have undergone the principal manufacturing processes in Hong Kong which are sufficient to qualify for the issue of a CHKO by the Department or any of the five Government Approved Certification Organisations.

"The ROPA continues to facilitate the outward processing of subsidiary and minor finishing processes without affecting the eligibility of such goods for a CHKO," a Trade Department spokesman said today (Wednesday).

"The procedural and documentation requirements have been modified and streamlined to better facilitate the trade and to enhance control over outward processing activities."

Main features of the ROPA are as follows:

* Manufacturers participating in the ROPA must be holders of valid Factory Registration with the Trade Department for certification purposes;

* A prior OPA registration on a factory basis is required and the registration is renewable on an annual basis. The factory only needs to declare the broad product type registered with the Department. Approved OPA registrants will be issued with multiple OPA cards;

* Photographs of the goods before and after outward processing must accompany the cargo, but prior endorsement of the photographs will not be required from the Trade Department;

* A Combined Form will be adopted to replace the existing OPA Form 1 (Export) and Form 2 (Import);

12

* Documentation and physical checks of outward processed goods will continue to be conducted by the Customs and Excise Department at the border checkpoints; and

* For subsequent CHKO applications, a copy of the Combined Form instead of the existing OPA Form 2 (Import) is required as supporting document.

The Department is now accepting registration under ROPA and will inform traders of the implementation date and the sale of the Combined Form by circular.

For further information and enquiries, the following officers of the Certification Branch at third floor, Trade Department Tower, 700 Nathan Road, Kowloon should be contacted:

Mrs YKNg

Senior Trade Controls Officer

Ms P S Cheung

Trade Controls Officer

Tel. 2398 5542

Tel. 2398 5533

End

Quarry to turn green through rehabilitation works

*****

The Government and the quarrying industry have jointly worked out a scheme to turn the Anderson Road Quarry in Kwun Tong into a green area, the Director of Civil Engineering, Mr Bernard Lam, said today (Wednesday).

’’The rehabilitation scheme, to be implemented in two stages, involves major recontouring of the existing quarry slopes followed by massive tree planting on the final stable slopes and the formation of land for development,” said Mr Lam.

A contract for the Stage 1 works was signed today by Mr Lam and the Chairman of KWP Quarry Company Limited, Mr Lui Che-woo.

Works for the contract, to be confined to areas above Anderson Road, would produce about 40 hectares of land for development, said Mr Lam.

13

The rehabilitation works will be completed in phases working down from the crest of the existing ridge.

’’The top portion of the site will be rehabilitated and turned green within the next five years and the contractor is required to appoint qualified landscape architects to do the design,” said the Director.

The 17-year contract will give the contractor rights to process the excavated rock into aggregates and other quarry products for sale off-site and to manufacture and sell ready-mixed concrete, bituminous materials and precast concrete products over the next 15 years, plus a two-year maintenance period for the establishment of trees and plants.

"This will ensure a steady supply of aggregates and other material to our construction industry," Mr Lam said.

"In return for these rights, the contractor has to make payments to the Government apart from carrying out the rehabilitation works. Works are designed to avoid as far as possible off-site disposal of surplus material in order to minimise the environmental impact on the adjacent areas," he said.

The planning and engineering design for the Stage 2 works are expected to begin in the middle of this year.

These involve mainly site formation below Anderson Road and will be carried out by civil engineering works contract.

End

Visits to bedspace apartment tenants and street sleepers *****

Bedspace apartment (BSA) tenants and street sleepers in Wan Chai were reassured during visits to their homes today (Wednesday) by government representatives and community leaders that they had not been forsaken and were advised of a whole range of services designed to help them.

The visits, jointly organised by the Wan Chai District Office and Wan Chai District Board, were meant to show concern by the Government and the community for those less fortunate during the Lunar New Year period.

14

Each of the visiting groups comprised representatives from the Home Affairs Department (HAD), Social Welfare Department, Wan Chai District Board and local area committees.

Mrs Elaine Tang, Wan Chai District Officer and head of one of the groups, said: "The main purpose of the visits was not just to exchange some festival greetings and distribute presents, although this too is important, but to express our genuine concern for those less fortunate amongst us and offer concrete assistance.”

"For example, they were given information leaflets published by HAD on the rehousing arrangements for BSA tenants who might be affected as a result of the implementation of the BSA Ordinance. Many were also given valuable advice on the spot with regard to their eligibility and application for public housing.

"We also took the opportunity to outline the wide range of services for them provided by the Government as well as non-governmental organisations.

"Among other things, BSA tenants can seek help and advice from the authorities when they encountered problems concerning their accommodation arrangements," Mrs Tang added.

"Those aged 60 and above and with social and medical difficulties, if found eligible, will be offered compassionate rehousing or admission to welfare institutions or homes for the elderly.

"Those aged below 60 can apply for a place in the HAD's singleton hostels located in Wan Chai, Western, Shau Kei Wan and other districts in Kowloon," Mrs Tang said.

At every opportunity, Mrs Tang and other visitors urged street sleepers to consider applying for public housing or hostels operated by non-governmental welfare organisations.

End

15

Booklet on use of potent/toxic Chinese herbs published *****

A booklet on the proper handling of potent/toxic Chinese herbs was recently published by the Preparatory Committee on Chinese Medicine (PCCM) for the reference of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) dispensers.

Introducing the booklet today (Wednesday), Chairman of PCCM’s Chinese Medicine Sub-Committee, Mr Tam Ling-kwan said:” Ilie booklet aimed at enhancing better understanding in the processing and use of potent/toxic Chinese herbs among TCM dispensers.”

Printed in full colour, the booklet contains a list of 31 kinds of potent/toxic Chinese herbs and a number of pictures of these potent/toxic herbs. "This list of potent/toxic herbs had been published earlier in an educational leaflet for the public by the PCCM.

Aimed for TCM dispensers, this booklet contains more details on the sources of origin and nature of these Chinese herbs and how to distinguish them.

It also gives useful information on the functions, applications and points to note in the handling and application of these herbs as well as their toxicity and symptoms of poisoning.

"The booklet was compiled after taking reference from a number of authoritative literature on traditional Chinese medicine," Mr Tam said.

He stressed that potent or toxic Chinese herbs could be very useful so long as they were processed and used properly and correctly, adding that unprocessed potent/toxic herbs were usually not suitable for internal use.

However, TCM dispensers should always consult TCM practitioners when they had doubts over certain prescriptions, Mr Tam said.

The booklet also contains a set of recommended practising guidelines for Chinese herbs retailing trade. This covers areas such as knowledge that should be equipped by TCM dispensers, their role and responsibility, management of Chinese herbal shops, and proper storage methods for Chinese herbs.

16

Copies of the booklet would be available free to TCM dispensers, practitioners and traders starting from tomorrow at PCCM Secretariat at 1st Floor, Shun Feng International Centre, 182 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong (Tel no. 2527 8391).

They would also be distributed to members of the trade through TCM associations.

End

Operator and staff of unlicensed guesthouse fined *****

Two men were fined $10,000 and $5,000 respectively today (Wednesday) in the North Kowloon Magistracy after pleading guilty to operating and managing an unlicensed guesthouse in King Hing Building, Mong Kok.

The proprietor had been ordered by the Home Affairs Department's Licensing Authority to cease operation since his certificate of exemption had expired on August 31, 1996. However, when the officers conducted an inspection in October last year, they found that the guesthouse was still in operation.

The proprietor and an employee were subsequently charged under Section 5 of the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance.

A spokesman for the department said unlicensed guesthouses would not be tolerated and enforcement action would continue to be taken against them to ensure that they operate only with all building and fire safety provisions in place.

He also appealed to members of the public to help in the crackdown on unlicensed guesthouses by reporting them to the Licensing Authority on 2881 7034.

End

17

Seminar and training guide for security personnel

*****

A seminar on fire prevention will be held this month specially for property managers and security personnel to enhance their awareness of the importance of fire safety and precaution, enrich their knowledge in the subject and strengthen their skills in handling a fire emergency.

The Chairman of the Security and Guarding Services Industry Authority (SGSIA), Mrs Miriam Lau Kin-yee, announced this at a press conference today (Wednesday).

The seminar will be held on March 14, between 2.30 pm and 5.30 pm, at the Royal Pacific Hotel, Canton Road, Kowloon.

It will be organised jointly by the SGSIA, the Fire Services Department, the Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies (HKAPMC) and the Hong Kong Institute of Housing.

Mrs Lau said that the four organisations saw the need to hold this seminar in view of recent incidents of serious fire in which many lives were lost, many people seriously injured and properties damaged.

"We all wish to do something positive in order to avoid similar tragedies in future. We believe that property managers and their front-line security personnel play a vital role in protecting buildings and occupiers from fire hazards.

"Their ability in taking appropriate actions in an outbreak of fire is crucial to the safety and well-being of people under their care," she said.

At the seminar, fire protection experts from the Fire Services Department will explain the basic fire safety rules, the daily responsibilities of security personnel in ensuring compliance with such rules, the contingency plan and steps to follow if a fire does occur.

Mrs Lau also introduced a set of guidelines produced by the SGSIA’s Training Sub-committee to assist front-line security personnel to discharge their duties more effectively and improve their knowledge about fire prevention.

"In this Training Guide, security personnel are given specific guidance on their daily duties, with particular emphasis on the prevention of fire," she said.

18

The guidelines also provide information about fire services installations as well as some directions as to the right steps to take when an outbreak of fire occurs.

The Training Guide was prepared with the assistance of the Fire Services Department and the two trade associations from the property management and security fields, namely, the HKAPMC and the Security Association.

Copies of the Guide will be distributed to property managers and security guards at the coming fire prevention seminar. Owners Corporations, Mutual Aid Committees and their security guards will also receive copies through the Home Affairs Department.

Also present at today’s press conference were the Deputy Chief Fire Officer (Fire Protection Bureau), Mr Chu Man-chun; President of the HKAPMC, Mr Alfred Lai; Chairman of the Education Committee, the Hong Kong Institute of Housing, Mr Johnnie Chan; and Vice-Chairman of the SGSIA, Mr Edward Pong.

End

Garrison gets physical *****

Two Physical Training Instructors (PTIs) at the Hong Kong Garrison will climb twice the height of Central Plaza - the territory's tallest building, run more than a marathon, do more than 6,000 sit-ups and cycle the equivalent of Central to Sai Kung and back, all without leaving the building.

Warrant Officer II "Tug" Wilson and Sergeant George Best, PTIs at the Prince of Wales Barracks, will take part in a Physathon, 24 hours of non-stop exercise, beginning at 12 noon tomorrow (Thursday).

Colleagues within the Garrison have been invited to sponsor them to raise money for a local charity, the Mother’s Choice Baby Care Home.

"We wanted to take the opportunity before we all split up and return to the United Kingdom to do something to remember out time in Hong Kong," explained Sergeant Best, the Physathon's organiser.

"This way, we can do something for others at the same time," he added.

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL.: 2842 8777

SUPPLEMENT

Wednesday, March 5,1997

Contents Page No.

Legislative Cfluncilmeeting: Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill 1997 ............................. 1

Second reading of PPE (Amendment) Bill........................... 3

Volunteer and Naval Volunteer Pensions (Amendment) Bill.......... 4

i

Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1997 ...................................  5

Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Bill........................... 7

Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Bill: committee stage.......... 9

Land Fund.................................................... 11

Publicity of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.............. 12

/Principles in.

Contents

Page No,

Principles in granting TWP holders permission for residence.......... 15

Social networking for the elderly.................................... 17

No plan to extend BNSS............................................... 19

No signs of speculation in the secondary market of HOS flats......... 21

Garrison Law......................................................... 23

Speed limits on highways............................................. 24

Validity of Hong Kong visas explained................................ 28

Adoption system ensures best interest of children.................... 29

No evidence of an upward trend in contractual claims............. 31

Safety of health food closely monitored.............................. 33

’’Target” Buildings for building management improvement.............. 35

Costs of World Bank Group and IMF meetings........................... 45

Smoking in court lobbies............................................. 46

Government rent in lieu of premium................................... 47

Mandatory Provident Fund............................................. 48

Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill 1997 ♦ * ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is a speech by the Attorney General, Mr Jeremy Mathews, in moving the second reading of the Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill 1997 in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr President,

I move that the Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill 1997 be read the second time. The Bill aims to amend the Supreme Court Ordinance so as to re-enact, in an updated form, those provisions of the English Habeas Corpus Acts 1679 and 1816 that are relevant to Hong Kong, and to make consequential amendments to the Application of English Law Ordinance.

Freedom of the person is a fundamental human right. But that freedom would be illusory if there were no effective procedure for protecting it. This is recognized in Article 9(4) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which states that "anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful."

Habeas corpus, the most famous of all common law writs, provides the means by which such proceedings may be instituted. The writ can be traced back to the thirteenth century, even before Magna Carta. It has proved its effectiveness throughout the centuries. In seventeenth century England, members of the parliamentary opposition, who had been imprisoned by command of the King, availed themselves of this writ to seek their release. And it was on a habeas corpus application that slavery was declared illegal in England in 1772.

The independent Judiciary plays a vital part in hearing habeas corpus applications. As a great English judge has said - "It has always been one of the pillars of freedom, one of the principles of liberty, that the judges stand between the subject and any attempted encroachments on his liberty by the executive, alert to see that any coercive action is justified in law."

Today, the remedy of habeas corpus continues to be of constitutional importance as the classic common law guarantee of personal liberty. It is frequently resorted to in Hong Kong, particularly, in recent years, by Vietnamese detainees. But although habeas corpus has its origins in the common law, the two Habeas Corpus Acts of 1679 and 1816 developed the remedy in significant ways.

2

The Act of 1679 was passed after an individual was arrested for delivering a speech urging the summoning of Parliament, and was kept in prison for several months without bail. Under that Act, if the applicant showed that there was any ground for supposing that the prisoner was wrongfully detained, the writ would be issued requiring the person detaining the prisoner to bring him before the court and to explain the grounds of detention. If it appeared that the prisoner was confined without lawful authority, the court would release him; otherwise it would release him on bail, or make provision for his speedy trial. The Act also included provisions designed to prevent evasion of the writ, but it only applied to persons imprisoned for alleged criminal activities.

The 1816 Act improved upon the 1679 Act and extended it to detention otherwise than in respect of alleged criminal activities. The later Act has been described as the beginning of the modem jurisprudence, the effect of which is that it is the court, in civil cases, will determine for themselves the existence of the facts upon which the executive cites as justifying the detention.

The two English Acts are currently applied in Hong Kong by virtue of being listed in the Schedule to the Application of English Law Ordinance. The Administration is now conducting an exercise that involves identifying those Acts in the Schedule that are still of importance, and re-enacting them in an updated form.

If the provisions in the two English Acts that are relevant to Hong Kong were not re-enacted, and ceased to apply in Hong Kong, this would create great uncertainty as to what the common law position would be. Mr President, given that Habeas Corpus is one of the most fundamental remedies known to our law, the Administration considers it essential that these provisions be re-enacted in an updated form and that is what this Bill proposes to do.

The Bill contains two main provisions. First, clause 3 adds a new section 22A to the Supreme Court Ordinance to provide for applications for, and the issue of, writs of habeas corpus. Secondly, clause 6 amends the Schedule to the Application of English Law Ordinance by repealing items 18 and 50, which are references to the two English Acts.

Mr President, I commend the short but vitally important Bill to this Council for early passage into law.

End

3

Second reading of PPE (Amendment) Bill ♦ ♦ * ♦ ♦

Following is a speech by the Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport, Mr Chau Tak-hay, in moving the second reading of the Places of Public Entertainment (Amendment) Bill 1997 in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr President,

I move the Second Reading of the Places of Public Entertainment (Amendment) Bill 1997.

Under the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance and its subsidiary legislation, no person shall keep or use any places of public entertainment, including cinemas, without a licence. At present, the two Municipal Councils, which are the licensing authorities in their respective areas, have no power to order an unlicensed place of public entertainment to be closed.

In order to strengthen enforcement action against the continued illegal operation of unlicensed places of public entertainment, the Bill intends to empower the licensing authorities to apply to a magistrate for the grant of a Prohibition Order. This would prohibit the keeping or use of a place of public entertainment for all purposes or for any purposes specified in the Prohibition Order. If the Prohibition Order is breached, the licensing authority may apply to a magistrate for a Closure Order to close the unlicensed business.

Similar provisions already exist under the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance in respect of unlicensed food premises.

Thank you, Mr President.

End

4

Volunteer and Naval Volunteer Pensions (Amendment) Bill *****

Following is a speech by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mrs Katherine Fok, in moving the second reading of the Volunteer and Naval Volunteer Pensions (Amendment) Bill in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr President,

I move that the Volunteer and Naval Volunteer Pensions (Amendment) Bill be read a second time.

At present, pensions and allowances are provided to veterans of the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps and the Hong Kong Naval Volunteer Force who fought in defence of Hong Kong during the Second World War. Payments are made by reference to the UK Naval, Military and Air Forces etc (Disablement and Death) Service Pensions Order. We feel that it is appropriate to establish a local payment scheme and to remove the reference to the UK Order.

This can be achieved by amendments to the Volunteer and Naval Volunteer Pensions Ordinance. Under the amendment Bill, payment of pensions, gratuities and allowances in respect of disablement and death of veterans due to service, are largely retained. The prevailing rates will be converted into Hong Kong dollar, and will form the basic rates. It is our intention to adjust these rates in future in accordance with local inflation and in line with the civil service pension increase.

The UK Order is formulated to cater for members of various UK forces. We propose to adopt provisions that are relevant and omit those that are no longer applicable to members of the two voluntary forces. The Bill however contains suitable saving provisions to ensure that existing beneficiaries will continue to draw pensions and allowances at levels no worse off than those prevailing under the Ordinance.

We have consulted the Legislative Council Panel on Welfare Services, the Social Welfare Advisory Committee and chairmen of relevant war veterans associations. They are all in support of our proposals.

Mr President, I commend this Bill to Members.

End

5

Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1997 ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Security. Mr Peter Lai. in moving the second reading of the Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1997 in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr President,

I move the second reading of the Crimes (Amendment) Bill 1997.

The Bill seeks to increase the maximum penalties of certain sexual and related offences to reflect their gravity. It sends a clear signal that the community would not tolerate such crimes.

In response to a motion of this Council, we have reviewed the legislation relating to sexual assaults and improved the procedures adopted by the departments concerned in handling such cases.

In our review, we have selected the ten-year maximum penalty level for indecent assault as the benchmark since it is the most prevalent sexual offence and the penalty level was raised from five to ten years' imprisonment in 1991. Having completed our review, we propose to increase the maximum imprisonment terms of certain sexual and related offences to ten years. These offences include, for example, indecent conduct towards a child under 16 and intercourse with a defective. The seriousness of these offences are considered comparable to that of indecent assault.

We have paid particular attention to the offence of incest as it is a more traumatic experience and one over which the community has great concern. Having regard to the position in other common law jurisdictions and taking into account the views expressed by the Security Panel of this Council, we propose to increase the maximum imprisonment penalty of incest with women between the age of 13 and 16 from seven to 20 years. Women of this age bracket are more vulnerable and should therefore be offered increased protection. For incest with women of or above the age of 16, we propose to double the maximum imprisonment term from seven to 14 years.

As regards offences relating to vice establishments, we propose to raise the maximum imprisonment terms on offences concerning premises used as vice establishment or for prostitution from two to seven years, as these offences are less serious when compared with indecent assault. For offenders convicted on indictment of "keeping a vice establishment", we propose to raise the maximum imprisonment term upon conviction on indictment from seven to ten years and, upon summary conviction, from two to three years. We also propose to remove the maximum fine levels for these offences to allow the courts more flexibility in imposing an appropriate fine.

6

We understand that raising maximum imprisonment penalties alone cannot be the sole solution to the problem of sex crimes. We adopt a three-pronged approach in tackling the problem. This includes prevention by enhancing sex education, enforcement by increasing the maximum penalties of these offences and providing support to victims by introducing improved procedures so that they are more willing to come forward to report these cases.

On preventive measures, we have launched a publicity campaign on the prevention of child sexual abuse in 1996/97, focussing on teaching young children to protect themselves and promoting awareness of the problem on the parents' and the carers' part. To develop students' ability to prevent and cope with sexual harassment, we are reviewing the Guidelines on Sex Education in schools. In parallel, we are developing a sex education kit for parents. We have also strengthened our sex education programmes for the younger generation so that they will have a proper perspective of sex and are therefore less prone to commit sexual offences.

We recognise that it is important for victims of sexual offences to come forward and report their misfortune. To achieve this, we have improved our procedures for supporting victims of such crimes. The Police have emphasised a sympathetic approach in their training for officers handling such crimes. In addition, a comfortable atmosphere is provided in the Police report room so that victims will feel at ease to give their statements. In collaboration with the Social Welfare Department, the Police have established a dedicated Child Protection Special Investigation Team to handle child victims involved in child sexual abuse cases. Meanwhile, we have introduced measures to protect child witnesses from the trauma of testifying in court in incest cases by, for example, allowing a child's videotaped testimony to be produced as evidence in court. The Victim's Charter was also issued in 1996 to improve services for victims of crimes. This Charter will be of particular assistance to victims of sex crimes.

We have consulted the Security Panel of this Council and the Fight Crime Committee. Both bodies have indicated support for our proposals.

Mr President, we believe that by enacting the Bill, it will have a strong deterrent effect against such crimes. These changes will contribute towards our efforts to make Hong Kong one of the safest cities in the world.

Thank you, Mr President.

End

7

Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Bill ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Security, Mr Peter Lai, at the resumption of the second reading debate of the Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Bill in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr President,

The Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Bill aims to provide better protection from the risk of fire in certain kinds of commercial premises where members of the public are likely to be present in significant numbers.

I am grateful to the Honourable James To and members of the Bills Committee for the great care they have taken in scrutinizing the Bill since it was introduced into this Council in May last year. This process has helped the Administration to fine-tune the Bill in a manner which would ensure the purpose of the legislation can be achieved in the most effective manner.

In the course of discussions in the Bills Committee, we have also received comments from the Real Estate Developers Association and Hong Kong Institute of Architects on the implementation of the Bill. We have carefully considered the views of both the Bills Committee and the two organisations in preparing for the committee stage amendments.

The principal amendments in respect of this Bill which I will purpose at the committee stage include -

(a) To specify in the Schedules the responsibilities of ’’owner" and "occupier" of prescribed commercial premises in complying with the fire safety requirements under the Bill. This will reflect clearly that owners will be responsible for those improvement works which require structural changes of the premises and the occupier for those involving non-structural changes. There has been some lengthy discussion on the definition of "occupier". Although some members still find it not entirely satisfactory, the proposed definition should ensure that no one will unreasonably be caught by the definition. At the same time, it should enable the relevant enforcement authority to identify a senior staff member responsible for the management of the premises so that necessary enforcement action can be taken to ensure that relevant premises are as far as possible kept free from the risk of fire and the consequences of fire.

8

(b) To introduce a new clause to reflect that offices in prescribed commercial premises, e.g. offices in banks, will not be covered by the Bill if they are separated by a fire resistant wall, floor or ceiling from the area to which members of the public generally have access and they have a separate means of escape.

(c) To address members' concern about the concept of reasonableness for compliance with a fire safety direction, a new sub-clause will be added to explain what constitutes a "reasonable excuse". This includes factors mainly relating to the structural integrity of the building and the technology available to carry out the necessary improvements.

(d) To specify the versions of the four Codes of Practice that can be applied to premises that are covered by the Bill, i.e. the Code of Practice for Minimum Fire Service Installations and Equipment 1994; the Code of Practice for the Provision of Means of Escape in Case of Fire 1996; the Code of Practice for Fire Resisting Construction 1996; and the Code of Practice for Means of Access for Firefighting and Rescue 1995. It is also stipulated that any substituted or amended code in future would apply to premises only after the passing of a resolution by the LegCo. This would address a concern expressed by members of the Bills Committee that owners who had upgraded their fire safety measures to the current standard would be required to carry out a further upgrading soon afterwards because of the issue of a substituted or amended Code of Practice.

(e) To state clearly in the Bill that only jewellery and goldsmith shops with a security area would be covered by the legislation. As discussed in the Bills Committee, the fire risk is less in those jewellery and goldsmith shops that do not have a security partition that segregates a part of the premises from the part to which members of the public normally have access.

In addition to the proposed committee stage amendments, we have also discussed the implementation of the legislation. It was proposed that the legislation would be implemented in stages. The 500 prescribed commercial premises without sprinkler installation as identified by FSD in a survey conducted in 1995 would be included in our first phase of implementation. The next phase will include prescribed premises completed before 1980. The third phase will include prescribed premises completed between 1980 to 1990 and phase four include those premises completed after 1990. Requirements to carry out fire safety improvements to prescribed commercial premises completed in recent years will therefore not be imposed in the immediate future. However, if particular premises are found to be at a high risk of fire, enforcement action will be taken immediately without reference to the age of the premises.

9

The implementation plan, although not included as part of the legislation, will be publicised. The industry will be consulted on the plan and it will be issued as a practice note to the industry. On completion of each phase of implementation, the LegCo will be consulted before proceeding to the next phase.

I would also like to reiterate that, in taking enforcement action under this Bill, the enforcement authorities will consider extending the specified period for complying with a direction if the owner or occupier found that, after commencement of the improvement works, he could not finish the work due to unforeseen problems. This is the current practice adopted in other related legislation.

Finally, I am aware that there are increasing concerns expressed on the improvement of fire safety measures in old commercial buildings and karaoke establishments in the territory. We are actively looking into the possible options to address the problem, including legislative and licensing measures. This legislation will provide a very good reference for us to work on.

Mr President, I recommend the Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Bill to this Council.

End

Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Bill: committee stage ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following are the speeches by the Secretary for Security, Mr Peter Lai, in moving the committee stage amendments of the Fire Safety (Commercial Premises) Bill in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr Chairman,

I move that the clauses specified be amended as set out in the paper circularized to Members.

The amendments to clauses 3. 3(1) and 5 have already been referred to in the Second Reading debate.

10

Clause 11 is amended to reflect more clearly the power of the police to remove, and prevent re-entry of persons to, premises that are subject to use restriction order. Clause 21(1) is amended in order to increase the deterrent effect relating to the unlawful disclosure of information obtained in relation to the premises by the authorised officer. Clause 24 is amended to specify the major considerations that would be taken in determining whether a commercial activity should be included as a prescribed activity under the Bill.

Amendments to the other clauses are mainly technical in nature and are consequential to amendments to the other clauses. All the proposed amendments have been discussed in detail by the Bills Committee and received the Committee's endorsement.

Mr Chairman, I beg to move.

[For clause 25]

Mr Chairman,

I move that new clause 25 as set out in the paper circularized to Members be read the second time. The amendment have already been referred to in the Second Reading debate.

Mr Chairman, I beg to move.

[For schedules 1 and 2]

Mr Chairman,

I move that schedules 1 and 2 be amended as set out in the paper circularized to Members. The amendments have already been referred to in the Second Reading debate.

Mr Chairman, 1 beg to move.

End

II

Land Fund

*****

Following is a question by the 1 Ion Sin Chung-kai and a reply by the Secretary for Treasury. Mr K C Kwong, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Will the Government inform this Council whether it has made a proposal to the Chief Executive (Designate) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for depositing the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government Land Fund in the Exchange Fund managed by the Monetary Authority; if so, of the reasons for putting forward the above proposal; if not. of the options being considered by the Government for handling the Land Fund?

Reply:

Mr President,

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government Land Fund is now managed under trust. While the trustees of the Land Fund are responsible for the management of the Land Fund, the beneficial ownership of the Land Fund belongs to the HKSARG when it comes into being on 1 July 1997 as provided for under the Joint Declaration. How to handle the Land Fund as from 1 July 1997 is a matter for the HKSARG to decide. We have raised the subject in our general briefing for the Chief Executive (Designate) on the matters which have to be dealt with by the HKSARG but we have not made any specific proposal to the Chief Executive (Designate) as to how the Land Fund should be managed as from 1 July 1997.

End

12

Publicity of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance ♦ * * ♦ ♦

Following is a question by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung and a reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Questions:

Although the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (the Ordinance) was implemented at the end of last year, the public are still not fully aware of their rights to privacy - for example, the public are not clear as to whether it is an offence under the Ordinance for a member of any private or government organisation (including a police officer) to inspect a person's Identity Card or ask for a copy of it - thus resulting in the Ordinance not being applied generally in the territory. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the ways adopted by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (the Office) in promoting and publicising the Ordinance to enhance the public's awareness of their rights to privacy;

(b) of the steps taken by the Office to promote the Ordinance to various business organisations, so that they can avoid violating the law when requesting personal data from individuals; and

(c) of the number and major types of complaints received by the Office since its establishment; the number of enquiries concerning infringement of rights to privacy, and whether there have been any such enquiries to which the Office could not provide definite replies; if so, of the number of such enquiries, and whether alternative enquiry channels are available to the public.

Reply:

Mr President,

I should say at the outset that the core provisions of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance already commenced operation on 20 December 1996. Whether or not the public understand their privacy right does not affect the application of the Ordinance. Therefore, I cannot agree with Hon Leung Yiu-chung's view that the Ordinance is not being applied generally in the territory.

13

The following are my replies to the three questions asked by Mr Leung.

(a) The Government began promoting and publicizing the Ordinance in August 1995 when this Council had passed the Ordinance but the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data had not yet been established. Efforts by the Home Affairs Branch to promote the Ordinance during the year from August 1995 include:

I. 50,000 copies of two information booklets were prepared and distributed to promote the Ordinance and provide guidance to data users;

2. Nearly 100,000 posters were distributed, and some had been displayed on 100 advertisement boards at various MTR stations for one to three weeks;

3. Representatives attended some 30 seminars and workshops during which members of public and private organisations were briefed on the Ordinance. Participants amounted to some 2,400; and

4. A telephone hotline was set up and approximately 5 to 10 enquiries were received every day.

Since the establishment of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data on 1.8.1996, publicity and promotion efforts have been stepped up. In order to heighten public awareness of the rights to privacy, the Office has carried out the following work:

1. Publishing a pamphlet entitled "Personal Information: Your Privacy Rights Explained", and so far around 90,000 copies have been distributed;

2. Distributing some 7,000 posters and arranging TV and radio promos to go on air from 20.12.1996 onwards;

3. Organising Logo Design Competition to enhance public awareness of the work of the Office;

4. Joining the Internet, and so far almost 8,000 visits have been made to the Office’s home page;

14

5. Setting up a telephone hotline;

6. Promoting the rights to privacy in relation to personal data through newspaper, radio and civic education exhibitions.

(b) There are two approaches in helping various industries and organisations comply with the Ordinance.

First, to prepare guidance note to data users. In addition to reprinting the two data user guides issued by the Home Affairs Branch, the Office has produced a new one. A total of about 150,000 copies of the three data user guides have been distributed. The Office, in conjunction with the Radio Television Hong Kong, has also produced a short bilingual video to be used as basic teaching materials. The video is now on sale for $80. So far more than 250 packages have been sold.

On the other hand, the Office has made direct contact with about 40 organisations and provided guidance on the preparation of internal guidelines for compliance with the Ordinance. The Office has sent representatives to attend some 50 seminars and talks so as to answer questions on compliance with the Ordinance.

(c) From 20.12.1996 to the end of February 1997, a total of 39 complaints were received, some of which covered more than one subject, thus effectively giving a total of 45 complaints. Most of them related to the use of data, without the data subjects’ consent, for purposes not related to the purposes for which they were collected (25 complaints) or inadequate protection of data (10 complaints).

During the said period, some 1,700 enquiries were received. Half of them were about compliance with the Ordinance, including enquiries on whether specific cases amounted to infringement of the rights to privacy. However, we do not know the number of enquiries related to such specific cases since the Office has not further classified the enquiries into different categories.

Bearing in mind that an inquirer may give a one-sided account only, the Office cannot give a definite answer. Unless a full picture of the case is available through contacts with other data subjects and users, the Office cannot and should not provide any definite answer to any enquiry.

End

15

Principles in granting TWP holders permission for residence * ♦ ♦ ♦ *

Following is a question by the Hon Law Chi-kwong and a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Peter Lai. in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

It is learnt that during the period from January to November last year, the Immigration Department, in exercising its discretionary powers, granted exceptional permission on strong compassionate grounds to 73 applications from Chinese residents wishing to reside in the territory, whereas other applications were rejected due to the lack of such grounds. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the principles and procedures adopted by the Immigration Department in determining if compassionate grounds exist when processing such applications;

(b) in regard to Chinese residents who are spouses or children of local residents applying to settle in the territory, of the number of applications in the past two years in which-

(i) exceptional permission was granted, together with a breakdown of the categories of the grounds for approving the applications;

(ii) exceptional permission was not granted, together with a breakdown of the categories of the grounds for rejecting the applications; and

(c) whether the right of the child as stipulated in Articles 9 and 10 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child has been taken into consideration in adopting the principles and procedures mentioned in the answer to (a) above?

16

Reply:

Mr President,

During the meeting of the Security Panel on 16 December 1996, we informed Honourable Members that the Director of Immigration had granted exceptional permission to 73 two-way permit holders between January and November 1996 on strong humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

(a) Chinese Two-way Permit holders are allowed to enter Hong Kong as visitors only and they are required to return to China when their limit of stay expires. Under existing arrangement, Chinese residents who wish to come to Hong Kong for residence need to obtain a One-way Permit issued by the relevant Chinese authorities. To prevent the One-way Permit system from being abused, as a general rule, applications for residence from Two-way Permit holders will not be considered except on strong humanitarian or compassionate grounds. Some examples of such grounds are: the need to take care of a seriously ill resident spouse or child, to take care of surviving children on the sudden death of the resident spouse. The Director of Immigration will take into consideration all relevant factors and circumstances put forth by the applicant and assess each case on its own merits. Where necessary, the Director of Immigration will also consult other government departments such as the Hospital Authority and Social Welfare Department for a thorough and comprehensive assessment.

(b)(i) In 1995 and 1996, the Director of Immigration approved 110 and 80 applications respectively from Two-way Permit holders who are the spouse or children of local residents for exceptional permission for residence. All are approved on humanitarian or compassionate grounds. As the circumstances of the cases are different, and in many cases more than one ground was advanced for humanitarian or compassionate consideration, it is not possible to categorise these cases according to grounds for approval.

(ii) In 1995 and 1996, the Director of Immigration rejected 54 and 125 applications respectively from Two-way Permit holders because of the lack of strong humanitarian or compassionate grounds. For the same reasons which I have mentioned in part (b)(i) of my answer, it is not possible to categorize these cases according to grounds for approval.

17

(c) The Government shares the values enshrined in Articles 9 and 10 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and recognises the need for family reunion. However, given the substantial number of families involved, we must regulate the immigrant inflow from China for settlement in a controlled and manageable manner. At present, over 90% of Chinese immigrants coming to Hong Kong under the One-way Permit system come for family reunion purposes. Applications for residence from Two-way Permit holders will only be considered in very exceptional cases on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, and each case is considered on its own merits. The discretion to allow Two-way Permit holders to settle in Hong Kong would only be exercised where there are compelling reasons which require special treatment. Any relaxation of this policy to allow Two-way Permit holders to settle on merely family reunion grounds will punch a hole through the One-way Permit system, and would be unfair to those who are waiting for their turn to come legally.

End

Social networking for the elderly + ♦ * * ♦

Following is a question by the Hon Mok Ying-fan and a reply by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mrs Katherine Fok, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

In connection with the project of social networking for the elderly, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the total amount of resources allocated for the implementation of this project which will last for two years, and their distribution among various districts;

(b) given that volunteers participating in the project are important helpline to identify and understand the needs of the elderly and to bring them into the formal welfare service network, whether the Government has any training programme in hand to enhance the volunteers' knowledge of the general problems faced by the elderly and the formal welfare services provided to them;

18

(c) whether there are any other ways to promote the project, besides referrals by local groups and organisations, so that more elderly people can learn of and participate in it;

(d) of the respective numbers of elderly people and volunteers who have participated in the project since its implementation last October; and

(e) whether the Government has any plan to carry out the project on a long term basis?

Reply:

(a) The Social Networking Scheme for the Elderly was launched in October 1996. It is a two-year experimental project. To implement this project, we have provided resources to the existing 25 multi-service centres for the elderly to employ extra social workers, purchase computers, design computer programmes in order to compile and store the information of the participating elderly. Besides, we have provided resources to all the multi-service centres to meet the recurrent expenses such as administrative costs, insurance for staff and volunteers, etc. Aside from the existing 25 multi-service centres, the other five centres which will open in the coming year will also be allocated resources for the project. The distribution of resources among different districts varies, depending on the number of multi-service centres in the respective districts. The total allocation for the whole project is $22 million.

(b) Volunteer organisations participating in the project will provide training to the volunteers. The multi-service centres and the Group Work Units of the Social Welfare Department will provide assistance to the volunteer organisations. The operational guidelines in the outline for volunteer training include the following topics: concept of volunteer service; objectives and contents of the Scheme; roles and duties of volunteers; safety of volunteers; communication skills; physical and psycho-social changes of ageing; home safety; community and residential services for the elderly. Besides, the District Committees of Social Networking for the Elderly also arrange training for volunteers.

19

(c) Besides referrals by local groups and organisations, the social workers of the District Social Welfare Offices also contact the elderly in the districts to explain to them about the Scheme and to register those who need the service. The Social Welfare Department has also distributed posters, leaflets and press release to promote the Scheme. TV and radio API as well as programmes are produced. The Social Networking for the Elderly - Ambassadors Flag Presentation Ceremony was held on 5 January 1997 to further promote the Scheme. At the same time, the Social Welfare Department and all the multi-service centres organise various activities to widely publicise the Scheme.

(d) As at the end of January 1997, the Social Welfare Department has received about 10,000 applications and the number of volunteer recruited is over 3,000.

(e) An evaluation will be conducted on the Scheme at the end of the trial period. We will decide whether the Scheme should be carried out on a long-term basis after the evaluation.

Thank you, Mr President.

End

No plan to extend BNSS ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is a question by the Hon Miss Emily Lau and a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Peter Lai, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Regarding the granting of full British citizenship to Hong Kong people, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of beneficiaries of the British Nationality Selection Scheme (BNSS) who have applied to renounce their British citizenship; and whether the BNSS places arising from the renunciation of British citizenship by this group of people can be re-distributed to unsuccessful BNSS applicants;

20

(b) whether, in view of the British Government's decision to give full citizenship to the non-Chinese ethnic minorities, those BNSS places which have been given to the ethnic-minorities can be re-distributed to other unsuccessful BNSS applicants; and

(c) whether the Government has any plan to urge the British Government to extend the BNSS to ethnic-Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents wishing to renounce their Chinese citizenship or to grant them full British citizenship outside the BNSS; if not, why not?

Reply:

Mr President,

(a) British citizenship was introduced by the British Nationality Act 1981, which commenced on 1 January 1983. Between 1983 and the end of 1996 when the responsibility for processing renunciations of British Citizenship was handed over to the British Trade Commission , which will be the future British Consulate General, a total of 43 British citizens submitted declarations of renunciation under Section 12 of the British Nationality Act 1981 through the Hong Kong Immigration Department acting as an agent of the United Kingdom Government. Their declarations were all registered by the Secretary of State, and they all ceased to be British Citizens. Although there is nothing to distinguish a beneficiary under the BNSS from any other British citizen, 20 of these 43 persons voluntarily surrendered certificates of registration acquired under the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1990 as evidence of their British Citizenship to be renounced.

Under section 1(1) of the British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1990, the Secretary of State shall register as British citizens up to 50,000 principal applicants. The Act does not provide for the registration of an additional number of principal applicants on account of some BNSS beneficiaries subsequently renouncing their British citizenship. Once a principal applicant is registered as British citizen under the Act, a place is used up. Renunciation of his British citizenship does not release a new place for another principal applicant.

21

(b) Once 50,000 principal applicants have been registered, there is no legal provision for the registration of any other principal applicants. There is thus no question of depriving BNSS beneficiaries of their British citizenship so that the places could be reallocated. Indeed there is no such legal power to do so.

(c) The Hong Kong Government’s long standing position is that British citizenship should be granted to all Hong Kong British Dependent Territories Citizens (HKBDTCs), regardless of whether they take any action to renounce their Chinese nationality. We will continue to put our position to the British Government, as effectively as we can and whenever the opportunity arises. The British Government has no plan to extend the British Nationality Selection Scheme in any way. As Honourable Members are aware, nor does the British Government accept the case for granting British citizenship to all HKBDTCs.

End

No signs of speculation in the secondary market of HOS flats *****

Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung and a reply by the Secretary for Housing, Mr Dominic Wong, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Recently there are indications that property speculation has spread to the secondary market of Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the total number of HOS flats currently available for free resale;

(b) the total number of HOS flats that have been resold and the percentage of such flats out of the total number of HOS flats available for resale;

(c) the number of transactions in the past year involving the further resale of HOS flats of ten years standing or above within two years of the resale of such flats, together with the percentage of such transactions out of the turnover volume in the overall secondary market of HOS flats;

(d) the average increase in the price level of secondary HOS flats in the past year;

22

(e) the number of transactions involving the resale of HOS flats by confirmors in each of the years since HOS flats have become available for free resale; and

(f) the measures adopted by the Government to curb speculative activities in the secondary market of HOS flats, so that prospective home buyers may purchase such flats at reasonable prices?

Answer:

Mr President,

As at January 1997, there were about 57,900 Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) and Private Sector Participation Scheme (PSPS) flats, for which the ten-year resale restriction had expired and which could be resold freely in the open market, subject to the payment of premium proportionate to the original price discount at the time of purchase from the Housing Authority. Of these, about 8,200 units or 14% had actually been sold in the open market.

In 1996, there were 535 cases of resale of these flats within two years of sale by the original owner, accounting for 12% of all transactions (4,342) in the open market involving HOS or PSPS flats.

In December 1996, prices of HOS and PSPS flats in the open market increased by an average of 21% over January 1996 prices, depending on location.

As regards Part (e) of the Question, "confirmor" is a term commonly used to refer to people who buy a property and then resell it before completing the assignment of the property. We do not have such statistics before 1992. Information for recent years is as follows -

Number of transactions

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

4

12

16

108

As regards Part (f) of the Question, prices of HOS and PSPS flats in the open market are influenced by the same factors as prices of flats in the private residential property market, namely, supply and demand, and general market sentiments. Buying and selling is an economic activity reflecting changing accommodation needs and investment decisions. We will monitor the situation closely, and consider taking appropriate action if necessary.

End

23

Garrison Law * * ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is a question by Dr the Hon Cheung Bing-leung and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Peter Lai, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

In connection with the "Garrison Law of the People's Republic of China for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region" passed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on 30 December 1996, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether there are any corresponding local laws that need to be enacted before 30 June this year; if so, of the progress of the discussions in the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group in this regard; if not, how the Government can ensure that a legal vacuum will not emerge when the British Forces are replaced by the People's Liberation Army troops stationed in the territory on 1 July 1997; and

(b) of the progress of the review of existing laws involving the rights and exemptions enjoyed by troops stationed in the territory?

Reply:

Mr President,

(a) We are studying the Garrison Law carefully to identify any need for enacting new local legislation or amending existing legislation. To ensure that the Law can be successfully implemented in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region after 30 June, we have expressed our wish to discuss with Chinese legal experts and clarify a number of key provisions of the Law. We are still waiting for the Chinese side's response.

(b) The question of reviewing the rights and exemptions for the garrison under existing Hong Kong laws is dealt with under the overall adaptation of laws exercise. The process is to ensure that they will not contravene the Basic Law and will suit the circumstances of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

End

24

Speed limits on highways ♦ * * * *

Following is a question by the Hon Zachary Wong and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport, Mr Gordon Siu, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

It is learnt that different speed limits are imposed on private cars and containertrucks on some highways in the territory. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the highways adopting the above speed limit measures, and the speed limits for private cars and container-trucks respectively;

(b) how the Government monitors the speed of vehicles subject to different speed limits on highways, so as to ensure that no speeding will occur; and

(c) of the number of successful prosecutions against drivers of containertrucks for speeding on highways with different speed limits imposed in the past three years?

Reply:

Mr President,

(a) For roads/expressways with a speed limit in excess of 70km/h, different speed limits are imposed on private cars and goods vehicles. At Annex A is a list of roads/expressways and the speed limits imposed. The maximum speed on these roads/expressways for buses, medium, heavy goods vehicles and articulated vehicles remains at 70km/h.

(b) Traffic Police monitor the speed of vehicles on roads by setting up ad-hoc check points on safe positions along roads or on bridges above roads and using -

(i) Radar;

(ii) Laser Gun;

(iii) VASCAR [(Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder).

25

The timings and locations for mounting check points are constantly changed for effective monitoring.

Speed monitoring is also carried out by moving police traffic patrol cars using

(i) VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder) mounted on a police patrol vehicle.

(ii ) VASCAR AUTOVISION (VASCAR equipment combined with a video recording system which is mounted on police patrol vehicle).

(iii ) Calibrated speedometer.

In police speed check of all types, the offending vehicle is either stopped and a Fixed Penalty Ticket immediately issued to the driver; or the vehicle particulars are recorded and reported to a Regional Traffic Office. In the latter case, a notice is sent to the vehicle owner to identify the driver who will then either be sent a demand note under the Fixed Penalty proceedings or issued with a summons to appear in court.

On expressways, vehicles are not generally stopped because of danger to the officers and other road users. However, if in certain areas of the expressways there is room to safely stop vehicles and officers are available, the stopping operation would be mounted.

(c) Statistics on speeding are compiled and classified according to the vehicle classes listed in the Schedule to the Road Traffic Ordinance Cap. 374. A tractor unit which is the prime mover of a container truck is classified as a Medium Goods Vehicle. Record is not kept on whether a speeding medium goods vehicle has a trailer or not. Neither do statistics show the type of road on which speeding is committed.

26

Appended below are the number of successful prosecutions against speeding medium goods vehicles in the last three years -

Offence Code 1994 1225 1226 Total

01 (excess 15 km/h or less) 1,833 1,496 1,102 4,431

02 (excess 16 to 30 km/h) 1,637 2,186 2,879 6,702

2A (excess 31 to 45 km/h) 35 77 105 217

2B (excess 45 km/h) 1 3 2 6

Total 3,506 3,762 4,088 11,356

We are reviewing the categorisation of speeding vehicles for statistical purpose so that in future, there will be a better statistical system to provide, among others, a separate category for speeding container trucks.

27

AnnexA

List of Roads/Expressways with Speed Limit over 7Qkm/h

No. Roads/Expressways • Speed .Lj.rnjt

(km/h)

1 Sha Tin Road 80

2 Tate’s Cairn Highway 80

3 Ma On Shan Road

(From Tate's Cairn Highway to Hang On Estate) 80

4 Tai Po Road

(From Tate’s Cairn Highway to Sha Tin Road) 80

5 Tolo Highway

(From Ma Liu Shui to Tate’s Cairn Highway) 80

6 Tolo Highway

(From Ma Liu Shui to Fanling Highway) 100

7 Fanling Highway

(Except Sheung Shui bound section between San Tin interchange and Fan Kam Road which Is 80km/h) 100

8 San Tin Highway

(Except Sheung Shui bound section between San Tin

Interchange and a point 330m west of it which is 80km/h) 100

9 Cheung Pei Shan Road 80

10 Kwai Chung Viaduct 80

11 West Kowloon Expressway 80

12 Kwun Tong Bypass

(From Kwun Tong Ferry Pier to Lam Hing Street) 80

End

28

Validity of Hong Kong visas explained *****

Following is a question by the Hon Howard Young and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Peter Lai, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

At present, the nationals of certain countries are required to obtain visas to visit Hong Kong on business or as tourists, and this process may take many working days. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) the British embassies in the countries concerned have been given guidelines as to whether the validity of such visas extends beyond 30 June 1997; and

(b) the Chinese Government has been requested to consider whether special measures need to be put in place in good time to accept visa applications from overseas visitors intending to visit Hong Kong on or shortly after 1 July 1997 and who need to apply before that date?

Reply:

Mr President,

Hong Kong operates a liberal visa regime which allows nationals of over 170 countries to enjoy visa-free visits. Nationals of only 23 countries have to obtain a visa to visit Hong Kong.

(a) Visas are normally valid for three months. Article 160 of the Basic Law states that

’’Documents, certificates, contracts, and rights and obligations valid under the laws previously in force in Hong Kong shall continue to be valid and be recognized and protected by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, provided that they do not contravene this Law.”

29

Since all Hong Kong visas are issued on the authority of the Immigration Department, those issued before 1 July 1997 should continue to be valid until their natural expiry date. British Embassies and all other British Visa posts which implement Hong Kong visa policy on the Hong Kong Government’s behalf have been given guidance on this.

(b) Applicants for Hong Kong visas may submit applications either through British visa posts up to 30 June, or direct to the Immigration Department. The majority of applications are now made directly to the Immigration Department, which, in the majority of cases, has a shorter turnaround time. The Immigration Department is prepared to give advice on application procedures, as they normally do, to applicants who need to come to Hong Kong shortly after 1 July 1997.

End

Adoption system ensures best interest of children ♦ ♦ ♦ * ♦

Following is a question by Dr the Hon David Li Kwok-po and a written reply by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mrs Katherine Fok, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

It is reported that single men and women, divorcees as well as older people will be allowed to adopt children through the Social Welfare Department under the revised criteria for adoption which took effect in February this year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it will review the existing assessment and supervision systems so as to ensure a healthy upbringing for these children?

Reply:

Mr President,

The purpose of our adoption service is to find a suitable and permanent home for the child whose parents are unable or unwilling to take care of him/her so that he/she can enjoy family life and grow in a caring and nurturing environment.

30

The eligibility criteria for an adoption applicant set out in the Adoption Ordinance are the residency and minimum age requirement. The latter is set at 25 or, if the applicant is the relative of the child, 21. There is no other statutory requirement for an adoption applicant in respect of maximum age and marital status.

In the past, prospective applicants who were single or divorced or aged above 45, would not normally be encouraged to submit applications. In the light of the development in relation to the Bill of Rights Ordinance, SWD reviewed its practice in early 1996. All eligible applicants are now given an equal opportunity for a full assessment on their suitability as adoptive parents.

In adoption, the primary concern is to find a suitable home for the child and not a suitable child for an adoption applicant. The child’s best interest is always of paramount importance.

Applicants are subject to a rigorous assessment and supervision process. They are required to provide detailed information on their personal circumstances to SWD. This is followed by a thorough investigation whereby the social worker of SWD visits and interviews the applicant as well as his/her family and nominated referees. The applicant’s personality, coping ability, early life experience, interests and integration in the community, marital stability, parenting attitudes and capacities, adoption motivation are all taken into consideration in the assessment on an applicant's suitability.

Should the applicant be assessed to be a suitable adoptive parent for a child, the child will be placed into the applicant’s home for a trial period of at least six months under close supervision of a social worker. If both the child and the applicant adapt to each other well and the applicant has proven his/her parenting capacity, the social worker will prepare a report to the Court to outline the circumstances of the adoption application and to make a recommendation based on his or her best professional judgement on whether an Adoption Order should be granted to the applicant. Every such application is carefully examined by the Court to ensure that the adoption is in the best interest of the child before an Adoption Order is granted.

End

31

No evidence of an upward trend in contractual claims *****

Following is a question by the Hon Zachary Wong and a written reply by the Secretary for Works, Mr Kwong Hon-sang, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the individual public works projects in which compensation in excess of $50 million was claimed by contractors, together with the total amount of compensation claimed, over the past three years;

(b) of the reasons for contractors claiming compensation in respect of the above projects, the outcome of such claims and the amount of compensation ultimately paid by the Government; and

(c) whether there is an upward trend of such claims in recent years and, if so, what the reasons are; and what measures the Government has put in place to improve the situation?

Reply:

Mr President,

Construction contracts for public works apportion risks involved in the construction process between the Employer (Government) and the Contractor. It follows logically, therefore, that contracts should provide means by which contractors may submit claims for additional money (cost claim) or time (extension of time or "EOT" claim) or both, associated with the risks where liability rests with the Employer. Contractual claims are a normal and natural part of construction contracting.

For a construction contract, claims for compensation are assessed, determined and valued, where appropriate, by the Engineer for the Contract (the Engineer) in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract. The amount so assessed by the Engineer is usually less than that claimed by the contractor, often substantially less.

32

Referring to parts (a), (b) and (c) of the question, please note that:

(a) For the past three years up to end of January 1997, there were a total of 29 contracts in respect of which claims in excess of $50 million have been received under each contract. The total amount as claimed by the contractors under these 29 contracts in the past three years is $8.6 billion. The total value for these 29 contracts is $32.2 billion. However, as claims information is confidential under the provisions of the conditions of contract, we cannot disclose individual contract details.

(b) The reasons put forward by contractors in their claims include, inter alia, the following:

(i) disturbance to works progress for which the Contractor is not responsible;

(ii) delay in possession of works site;

(iii) limitations imposed by the Employer on the methods of construction;

(iv) special provisions for third parties such as access to an adjoining site;

(v) disruption to or delay in works progress arising from problems associated with interfacing with other contracts;

(vi) claimed impossibility of works;

(vii) requirements for additional/extra work and related disputes on rates;

(viii) under-recovery of overheads where works are deleted from the contract;

(ix) dispute over interpretation of provisions in the contract or method of measurements;

(x) prolongation costs where the contractor is not responsible for the contractual delay; and

(xi) design changes to suit site conditions.

33

Of the $8.6 billion claimed by the contractors, $5.1 billion has been resolved and Government has paid contractors $1 billion as at end of January 1997. The remaining unresolved claims are still being assessed in accordance with prescribed procedures.

(c) For the contracts under the Airport Core Programme (ACP), the incidence of claims notifications by contractors depends to a large extent on the stage of construction. The number of claims submitted by contractors have increased as most of the ACP projects have progressed over the past three years. However, the number of new claims for these projects will reduce as the construction is approaching the completion stage. A downward trend is therefore expected in the next few months.

For the Non-ACP Public Works Programme as a whole, which is a rolling programme with over 1400 projects at various stages and around 2000 contracts of different sizes at various stages of completion, there is no evidence of an upward trend in contractual claims over the past three years.

The Government has been closely monitoring the settlement of contractual claims which is part and parcel of our overall cost control measures. Compensation is given to contractors only if the claims are found fully substantiated and justifiable after careful consideration.

End

Safety of health food closely monitored *****

Following is a question by the Hon Choy Kan-pui and a written reply by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mrs Katherine Fok, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

In view of the great varieties of health food on sale in the market at present, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the legislation regulating the sale of health food;

34

(b) whether a review will be conducted to examine if the legislation mentioned in the answer to (a) above is adequate in safeguarding the interests of the consumers; and

(c) whether there were any cases of people having health problems due to the intake of health food on sale in the market in the past three years; if so, of the total number of such cases and the main causes of their occurrence?

Reply:

The legal framework for control of foods is laid down in Part V of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap. 132) and its subsidiary legislation. Under the Ordinance, the sale of any food intended for, but unfit for, human consumption is an offence. The Ordinance and its subsidiary legislation also lay down specific requirements and standards relating to the composition and labelling of foods, use of colouring matter, artificial sweeteners and preservatives. In addition, there are provisions in the Undesirable Medical Advertisements Ordinance (Cap. 231) to prohibit the advertising of any substance for the purpose of treatment or prevention of specified diseases.

At present, there is no established categorization of ’’health foods’’ worldwide. The sale of "health food" is therefore subject to the legal provisions described above which are meant to give adequate protection to public health and the interests of the consumers. We will keep abreast of local and overseas developments in considering whether a review of the control measures is necessary.

Since "health food" is not distinguished from the rest of the food items, we do not have any specific information on cases of people having health problems due to intake of "health food" on sale in the market. Nevertheless, the safety of all kinds of foods, including "health foods", is closely monitored by the Department of Health and the municipal departments.

End

35

"Target” Buildings for building management improvement

*****

Following is a question by the Hon Christine Loh Kung-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

At the meeting of the Home Affairs Panel of the Legislative Council held on 20 December last year, the Government informed the Panel that about 1,000 private buildings in the territory with potential fire and safety hazards had been put on a "watchlist”. In his reply to a written question at the sitting on 22 January this year, the Secretary for Home Affairs released a list of 331 buildings on Hong Kong Island targeted for comprehensive building management improvement. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the names and addresses of the buildings in Kowloon and the New Territories which have been targeted for comprehensive building management improvement;

(b) given that the names of the buildings may be taken off or added onto the ’target’ list, whether the Government will consider providing an updated list of such building throughout the territory to this Council at 12-monthly intervals; and

(c) whether there have been any changes to the list of ’target’ buildings on Hong Kong Island since its compilation last year; if so, what the details are?

Answer:

(a) The names and addresses of the buildings in Kowloon and the New Territories targeted for comprehensive building management improvement are attached at the Annex.

(b) The Government will be happy to provide the Legislative Council Secretariat with an updated list on an annual basis, in February, of those buildings added to and deleted from the original lists.

(c) The list of 331 buildings on Hong Kong Island has not been changed since its compilation for release on 22 January 1997.

36

"Target" Buildings in Kowloon &. New Territories

for Building Management Improvement

Serial No. Name of Bu ilding Address

Kowloon City

1. Tung Po Building No. 60 Pak Tai Street

2. Tung Hoi Mansion No. 66 Pak Tai Street

3. - No. 7 Bailey Street

4. Nos. 2-4, 6-8 and 10-12 Baker Court

5. - No. 87 Tak Ku Ling Road

6. No. 26 Whampoa Street

7. - No. 20 Wan Fuk Street

8. - No. 69 Kai Tak Road

9. Fung Shing Building No. 7 Hau Wong Road

10. Yick Kwan House No. 244 Chatham Road

11. - No. 1 Wan King Street

12. Prince Chinese Building No. 376 Prince Edward Road

13. Menon Mansion No. 18 Homantin Street

14. - No. 48 Nga Tsin Long Road

Kwai Tsing

1. Mei Kei Industrial Building 23-29 Wing Kei Road

2. On Fat industrial Building 12-18 Kwaj Wing Road

3. Shui Sum Industrial Building 8-10 Kwai Sau Road

4. Bold Win Industrial Building 16-18 Wah Sing Street

5. Mai W'ah Industrial Building 1-7 Wah Sing Street

6. Kam Shing Industrial Building 1 • 11 Kwai Wing Road

7. On Fook Industrial Building 41-45 Kwai Fung Crescent

8. Sing Mei Industrial Building 29-37 Kwai Wing Road

9. Goldfield Industrial Building Block 1 144-150 Tai Lin Pai Road

10. Goldfield Industrial Building Block 2 144-150 Tai Lin Pai Road

II. Wing Hang Industrial Building 13-29 Kwai Hei Street

12. Wells Industrial Building 21-23 Lam Tin Street

13. Golden Dragon Industrial Centre Block 1 152-160 Tai Lin Pai Road

14. Golden Dragon Industrial Centre Block 2 162-170 Tai Lin Pai Road

37

“Target” Buildings in Kowloon & New Territories

for Building Management Improvement

Serial No. Name of Buildbig

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

Kwun Tong

Golden Dragon Industrial Centre Block 3

Golden Dragon Industrial Centre Block 4

Wing Loi Industrial Building

Grand Factory Building

Chiap Luen Industrial Building

Address

172-180 Tai Lin Pai Road

182-190 Tai Lin Pai Road

8-14 Wing Lap Street 159-165 Wo Yi Hop Road

30-32 Kung Yip Street

1. Kin Tak Fung Industrial Building 174 Wai Yip Street

2. Mai Hing Industrial Building (Block A) 16-18 Hing Yip Street

3. Mai Hing Industrial Building (Block B) 16-18 Hing Yip Street

4. Kwun Tong Industrial Centre (Block I) 472-484 Kwun Tong Road

5. Kwun Tong Industrial Centre (Block II) 472-484 Kwun Tong Road

6. Kwun Tong Industrial Centre (Block III) 472-484 Kwun Tong Road

7. Kwun Tong Industrial Centre (Block IV) 472-484 Kwun Tong Road

8. Kiu Sun Factory Building 41 King Yip Street

9. Sunray Industrial Centre 610 Cha Kwo Ling Road

10. Yen Fu Mansion 121-124 Hip Wo Street

11. Hip Wo Building 143-167 Hip Wo Street

12. Keysky Industrial Building 151 Wai Yip Street

13. Yee On Building 4-6 Yee On Street

14. Good Year Factory Building 119-121 How Ming Street

15. Hung Fuk Factory Building 60 Hung To Road

16. Camel Paint Building (Blk I & II) 62 Hoi Yuen Road

17. Hong Ning Building 105 Hong Ning Road

18. Shui Ning Building 38 Shui Ning Street

19. Selwyn Factory Building 404 Kwun Tong Road

20. Hoi Bun Industrial Building 6 Wing Yip Street

21. Morning Star Mansion 42 Wan Hon Street

22. Yen Hau Mansion 100 Ting Fu Street

23. Howard Industrial Building 66 Chun Yip Street

24. Wai King Building 3 Jordon Valley Road North

25. Tsat Hei Building 4-22 Ting Fu Street

38

"Target” Buildings in Kowloon & New Territories

for Building Management Improvement

Serial No. Name of Building

Address

26. Hang On Mansion 23 Hang On Street

27. Yau Tong Industrial Building (Phase III) 2 Sze Shan Street

28. Yan On ^Mansion 357-375 Ngau Tau Kok Road

29. House of Corona 50 Hung To Road

30. Shui Wo House 49 Ka Lok Street

31. Wai Yip Industrial Building 171 Wai Yip Street

32. Wah Fat Building 91 Hong Ning Road

33. King Yip Factory Building 59 King Yip Street

34. Hung Shing Industrial Building 27 Tai Yip Street

35. Chi Icon Industrial Building 97 Wai Yip Street

36. Kin Tai House 88-101 Wan Hon Street

37. Ting Yip Building 30-42 Ting Yip Street

38. On Tak Building 44-54 Ting Yip Street

39. Wing Ming Building 114 Ting On Street

40. Yau Fook Building 167-175 Cha Kwo Long Road

41. Chung Nam House 79-83 Hip Wo Street

42. Shiu King Building 6 On Wah Street

43. Cheong On Mansion 78 Shui Wo Street

44. Foo Yue Building 93 Ting Fu Street

45. Wang Yip Building 2 Ka Lok Street

46. Kwong Fai Building 24 Mut Wah Street

47. Hong Ning Building 79 Hong Ning Road

48. Morning Light Building 9 Hor.g Ning Road

49. Gee Luen Factory Building 316 Kwun Tong Road

50. King Wan Industrial Building 54 Hung To Road

51. Wah Shun Industrial Building 4 Cho Yuen Street

52. Draco Industrial Building 46 Lai Yip Street

53. Mai Hong Industrial Building 160 Wai Yip Street

54. Yip Win Industrial Building 10 Tsun Yip Street

55. Liven House 61-83 King Yip Street

56. Tai Hing Lau 1-7 Luen On Street

57. Yan Ning Mansion 19 Ting Yip Street

39

“Target” Buildings in Kowloon & New Territories

for Building Management Improvement

Serial No, Name of Building

Address

58. Mai Gar Industrial Building 146 Wai Yip Street

59. Viet Luen Factory Building 126 Wai Yip Street

60. Hung Fat Mansion 27 Tung Ming Street

61. Hong Wah Building 38 Hong Ning Road

62. Kai Tak Mansion (Block I) 53 Kwun Tong Road

63. Yip Fat Industrial Building (I) 77 Hoi Yuen Road

64. Mai Tak Industrial Building 221 Wai Yip Street

65. Kai Tak Mansion (Block 2) 53A Kwun Tong Road

66. Lin On Building 23A Luen On Street

67. On Ning Building 49 Mut Wah Street

68. Yau Tong Industrial Building (Block 1) 2 Shung Shun Street

69. Wing Hing Lee Industrial Building 32 Hung To Road

70. Wah Yee House 2-8 Yan Oi Court

71. Roomy Mansion 85 Fu Yan Street

72. Chung Hing House 15-33 Yan Oi Court

73. - 10-24 Yan Oi Court

74. Winfid Industrial Building 15-17 Tai Yip Street

75. Kai Tak Mansion (Block 3) 55 Kwun Tong Road

76. Kai Tak Mansion (Block 4) 55A Kwun Tong Road

77. On Cheung Building 311 ’315 Kwun Tong Road

78. On Cheong Factory Building 19 Tai Yip Street

79. Viet Shing Industrial Building 145 Wai Yip Street

Shamshuipo

1. Kwong Fung Building 143 Hai Tan Street and 16-18 Nam Cheong Street

2. - 2 Kim Shin Lane and 586 Fuk Wah Street and 475 - 475A Castle Peak Road

3. Kam Wah Building 226 • 242 Cheung Sha Wan Road

4. Merlin Centre 65 Po On Road and

48 Tonkin Street and

88 Shun Ning Road

40

“Target” Buddings in Kowloon & Aew Territories

for Building Management Improvement

Serial No* Name of Building

Address

5. Chew Onn Building 44 • 50 Yen Chow Street and 367 - 369 Lai Chi Kok Road

6. Sunning Mansion 203 - 209 Pei Ho Street

7. Shamshuipo Building 1A Shek Kip Mei Street

8. Wing Fat Building 318- 320 Un Chau Street

9. Hoover Building 493 - 497 Un Chau Street

10. Sun Ming Court 84 - 90 Castle Peak Road

IL - 570 - 572 Fuk Wah Street and 16-18 Kim Shin Lane

12. Wah On Mansion 103 - 107 Fuk Wa Street

13. - 574 - 576 Fuk Wah Street and 12 -14 Kim Shin Lane

14. New Pei Ho Building 178 Apliu Street

15. Wai Bun Building 126 - 130 Pei Ho Street

16. Tai On Building 145 - 149A Cheung Sha Wan Road

17. 553 - 555 Fuk Wing Street and 21-23 Kim Shin Lane

18. Sheung Wing Building 187-189 Fuk Wing Street and 143 - 149 Kiu Kiang Street

19. Ming Hing Building 174-176 Fuk Wing Street and 149A Kiu Kiang Street

20. Wen Pang Building 66 - 68 Nam Cheong Street and 270 - 272 Lai Chi Kok Road

21. Man Hoi Mansion 80 - 82 Cheung Sha Wan Road

22. Cheung Shing Building 1 - 5 Cheung Sha Wan Road and 41A - D Boundary Street

23. Ka Wui Building 7 Fuk Wing Street

24. Un On Building 128- 134 Camp Street and 154 - 160 Un Chau Street

25. Fat Tseung Building 290 Castle Peak Road and 7C - 7E Fat Tseung Street

26. Sheung Fook Building 92 - 98 Fuk Wing Street and

143F • 143H Kweilin Street

41

“Target” Buildings in Kowloon <4 New Territories

for Building Management Improvement

Serial No, Name of Building

Address

27. Fuk Wing Mansion 226 Fuk Wing Street and 149 - 155A Pratas Street

28. Federal Mansion 544 - 560 Fuk Wing Street and 463 - 471 Castle Peak Road

29. Kam Ling Building 80 - 82 Fuk Wing Street

30. Wah Tong House 187 - 189 Cheung Sha Wan Road

31. Maple Mansion 9-13 Maple Street

32. Kiu Fuk Building 184 A & 148B Kiu Kiang Street and 170 & 172 Fuk Wing Street

33. Golden League Building 76 - 82 Castle Peak Road

34. - 101 • 103 Kweilin Street and 281 Yu Chau Street

35. Cheong Fat Factory Building (Block C, D) 265 - 271 Un Chau Street and 344 - 348 Fuk Wing Street

36. Cheong Fat Factory Building (Block A, B, E, F) 265 - 271 Un Chau Street and 344 - 348 Fuk Wing Street

37. Wing Shun Building I - 7 Wing Lung Street

38. Wing Tai Building 280 - 286A Yu Chau Street

39. Kan Seng Building 186 -188 Cheung Sha Wan Road

40. Hung Yu Mansion 155 -181 Castle Peak Road and 162 - 164 Un Chau Street

41. Shun King Mansion 114-118 Yee Kuk Street

42. Lung Fung Building 151 - 155 Kiu Kiang Street and 131 -135 Un Chau Street

43. Winsum Industrial Building. 588 - 592 Castle Peak Road

44. Wing Hong Factory Building. 777 - 783 Yu Chau West Street

45. Cheong Ming Building 72 - 74 Cheung Sha W'an Road

46. Yen Li Mansion 222 - 224 Yee Kuk Street

47. - 56 Tai Po Road

48 Kwong Hing Building 52 - 54 Cheung Sha W'an Road

49. Kam Hoi Mansion 243 Hai Tan Street

50. Golden Jade Heights 432-492 Un Chau Street

51. - 75-81 Kweilin Street and

333 - 337 Tai Nan Street

- 42 -

"Targct ” Buildings in Kowloon & New Territories

for Building Management Improvement

Serial No.

Name of Building

Address

52. Mei Kei Mansion 457 - 463 Castle Peak Road and 501 Un Chau Street

53. Sum Ming Mansion 124- 126 Yee Kuk Street

54. Ka Ming Court 688 - 690 Castle Peak Road

55. Wing Hing Industrial Building 499 Castle Peak Road

56. Ying Fuk Building 212 - 214 Fuk Wing Street and 118-122 CampSveet

57. Tung Shing Building 155 - 167 Apliu Street

53. Sham Tsung Court 17-19 Wong Chuk Street

59. - 205-211AHoi Tan Street

60. Diamond Building 154 - 156 Cheung Sha Wan Road

61. Por Mei Factory Building 500 Castle Peak Road

Tsuen Wan

1. Wah Kai Industrial Centre 221 Texaco Road

2. Chung Nam Industrial Building 152-160 Kwok Shui Road

3. Wah Lung Industrial Building 49-53 Wang Lung Street

4. Lok Shun Industrial Building 6-28 Chai Wan Kok Street

5, Edward Wong Industrial Centre 13-23 Wang Wo Tsai Street

6. Metropolitan Factory & Warehouse Building 30-32 Chai Wan Kok Street

7. Wah Wai Industrial Building 53-61 Pak Tin Par Street

8. Po Yip Building (Block A) 62-70 Texaco Road

9. Po Yip Building (Block B) 62-70 Texaco Road

10. Bonsun Industial Building 364-366 Sha Tsui Road

11. Wong’s Factory Building 368-370 Sha Tsui Road

12. Texaco Road Industrial Centre (Block A) 256-264 Texaco Road

13. Texaco Road Industrial Centre (Block B) 14-22 Wang Lung Street

14. Lung Shing Factory Building 141-148 Texaco Road

15. Sun Fung Industrial Building 8-12 Ma Kok Street

16. Metropolitan Industrial & Warehouse Bldg.No.2 216-218 Texaco Road

17. Jing Ho Industrial Building 78-84 Wang Lung Street

18. Peninsula Factory Building 250-254 Texaco Road

1

- 43 -

“Target” Buildings in Kowloon de New Territories

for Building Management Improvement

Serial No.

Name of Building

Address

Yaumatei di Tsimshatsui di

Mong Kok

1. Ching King Mansion 36-44 Nathan Road

2. Mirador Mansion 54-64B Nathan Road

3. New Lucky House 300 Nathan Road

4. Pollock Building 9-11 Tak Hing Street

5. Grandview Mansion 119 Chatham Road

6. Hung Hsing Building 482-484 Nathan Road

7. Union House 33-35 Chatham Road

8. Alpha House 27-31 Nathan Road

9. Wing On Building 208-212 Shanghai Street

10. - 200-210 Temple Street

11. - 150-160 Reclamation Street

12. Kay Pont Building 29-37 Wai Ching Street

13. Yen Kit Building 14-18 Kwun Chung Street

14. Hankow Apartment 45 Hankow Road

15. Kam Shing Building 65 Parkes Street

16. Wai On Building 1 Austin Road

17. David Mansion 83-103 Woosung Street

18. Carnarvon Mansion 8-12 Carnarvon Road

19. Kim Hing Mansion 49-51 Kimberley Road

20. Kam Fai Building 20 W'atcrloo Road

21. Far East Bank Mongkok Building 11 Nelson Street

22. Peony House West Block. 8-22 Foo Kwai Street and 7A-21 Pok Man Street and 34-46 Hoi King Street and Tai Kok Tsui

23. Rex House 648-652 Nathan Road

24. Kingland Apartments 737-741 Nathan Road

25. Shiu Fung Mansion 33 Bedford Road

26. Wing Shun Building 53-67 Larch Street

27. Po On Building 30-36 Mong Kok Road

- 44 -

Target” Buildings in Kowloon & New Territories

for Building Management Improvement

Serial \'o. Name of Building Address

28. Manlin Building 96-100 Prince Edward Road

29. Lee Hung Building 137-143 Fa Yuen Street

30. Shun King Building 330 Ferry Street

31. Kwok Hong Building 94-98 Lai Chi Kok Road

32. - 15-17 Ka Shin Street ,Tai Kok Tsui

33. - 59-61 Prince Edward Road ,Tai Kok Tsui

34. Chung Hing Building 33 Chung Wui Street

35. Wah Mei Building 150-156 Fa Yuen Street

36. Wah On Building 201-203 Tong Mi Road

37. Wong Choi Building 80-86 Hak Po Street

End

45

Costs of World Bank Group and IMF meetings

*****

Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau Wai-hing and a written reply by the Secretary for Financial Services, Mr Rafael Hui, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

At its meeting held on 7 July 1995, the Finance Committee approved a non-current commitment of $485 million at money-of-the-day prices to meet the costs of holding the Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in the territory in September 1997. In this connection, will the Administration inform this Council:

(a) whether the estimated total expenses of hosting the above event will be kept within the approved budget; and

(b) of the total amount of financial sponsorship which the Chief Executive of the Monetary Authority has secured to-date and whether there is further sponsorship forthcoming?

Reply:

(a) The estimated total expenses of hosting the Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund are within the approved budget of $485 million.

(b) The Hong Kong Monetary Authority set up a sponsorship advisory committee in late 1995 to help seek sponsorship. Despite the restriction stipulated by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund of not commercialising the Annual Meetings, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has secured a cash sponsorship of about $45 million and sponsorship in kind, including saloon cars, telecommunication services and equipment, office furniture and equipment etc. The cost savings from sponsorship in kind and loan of furniture and equipment from Government departments are estimated at $25 million. More sponsorship in kind is being negotiated.

End

46

Smoking in court lobbies *****

Following is a question by the Hon Chan Yuen-han and a written reply by the Chief Secretary, Mrs Anson Chan, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether smoking is prohibited in the lobbies of all court buildings; and

(b) if the answer to (a) is in the affirmative,

(i) of the respective numbers of persons who were warned and prosecuted for smoking in court lobbies last year; and

(ii) which government department is currently responsible for issuing warnings to, or instituting prosecutions against, those persons who smoke in court lobbies?

Reply:

Mr President,

According to information provided by the Judiciary Administrator, smoking is discouraged in all public areas within court premises, and no-smoking signs are displayed for this purpose. However, these public areas have not been designated as statutory no-smoking areas under Schedule 3 of the Smoking (Public Health) Ordinance (Cap 371). Accordingly, it is not an offence to smoke in these areas.

The Judiciary Administrator has also advised us that both local and overseas experience indicates that it is difficult to stop those waiting to attend courts, especially the criminal courts, from smoking. Given the stress and anxiety that some parties to court proceedings are under, they may find it difficult to refrain from smoking, regardless of whether smoking is prohibited or not.

Nevertheless, the Judiciary Administrator has assured us that all court staff have been instructed to advise members of the public not to smoke in public areas within court premises and that such efforts will continue. However, the Judiciary Administrator does not have statistics on the number of persons who were advised not to smoke in public areas within court premises last year.

End

47

Government rent in lieu of premium ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is a question by the Hon Christine Loh and a written reply by the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Mr Bowen Leung, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Under Annex III to the Sino-British Joint Declaration, all land leases not containing a right of renewal that expire before 30 June 1997 may be extended for a further period, subject to payment of an annual rent equivalent to 3% of the rateable value of the property at the date of extension. For new land leases granted in the period between the entry into force of the Joint Declaration and 30 June 1997, such leases shall be granted at a premium and nominal rental until 30 June 1997, after which date they shall not require payment of an additional premium but an annual rent equivalent to 3% of the rateable value of the property at that date shall be charged. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the reasons behind the 3% charge mentioned above; and

(b) the estimated annual revenue arising from the collection of the above rent?

Reply:

Mr President,

(a) the annual rent to be charged -

(i) upon the extension of leases expiring before 30 June 1997; or

(ii) after 30 June 1997 in respect of those leases granted from the entry into force of the Joint Declaration to 30 June 1997,

48

is in lieu of premium at full market value which could have been charged in these circumstances. From the property owners’ point of view, the annual rent is much less burdensome than premium, which is likely to be substantially higher than the rent and will normally have to be paid upfront at one go. The formula of 3% of the rateable value is consistent with that used in renewing leases under the Crown Leases Ordinance (Cap 40), which was enacted in 1973; and

(b) revenue from the collection of the annual rent mentioned in (a) above is estimated at $3.2 billion in 1997-98 (three quarters), increasing to $4.5 billion in 1998-99 and S4.8 billion 1999-2000.

End

Mandatory Provident Fund

*****

Following is a question by the Hon Eric Li Ka-cheung and a written reply by the Secretary for Financial Services, Mr Rafael Hui, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

As the Government has proposed that the percentage of the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) assets to be held in Hong Kong dollar should be 30%, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the foreign currency risks, if any, should the 30% restriction be relaxed to include assets held in the US dollar, to which the Hong Kong dollar is officially pegged; and;

(b) if such foreign currency risks do exist, whether they are within the acceptable limit in the context of prudential regulation to protect the interests of MPF beneficiaries?

49

Answer:

(a) The Hong Kong government is firmly committed to the maintenance of exchange rate stability of the Hong Kong dollar under the linked exchange rate system. The foreign currency risk involved in US dollar investment should therefore be minimal under the linked exchange rate system. Nevertheless, MPF involves very long-term contributions and liabilities, as most contributors may get back his or her contributions only in 20 to 40 years’ time. It would therefore be imprudent to assume that foreign currency risk in US dollar investment is totally non-existent in this context.

(b) As investment in US dollar still involves currency risk (as explained in (a)), it would be inappropriate to consider US dollar as the same as the Hong Kong dollar for the 30% restriction. Should an MPF fund invest in US dollar assets resulting in less than 30% of its holdings in HK dollar, however, the fund would still be within the acceptable limit if there is appropriate currency hedging to bring the effective currency exposure to within the 30% restriction. It would be useful to note that foreign currency risk is already very much on the minds of the investment managers of voluntary retirement funds in Hong Kong. Assets of these funds denominated in Hong Kong dollar have been ranging from about 25% to 45%.

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Thursday, March 6, 1997

Contents Page No.

Government announces 1997-98 spending plans............................. 1

Transcript of Secretary for Treasury's press conference................. 5

Substantial increase in expenditure on basic education................. 19

Proposed increases in education expenditure welcomed................... 22

Labour Department welcomes increase in proposed expenditure............ 22

Long-term Prison Sentences Review Bill................................. 23

Registered Designs Bill to protect industrial designs.................. 24

Use of Chinese in High Court jury trials............................... 25

No licences for sale of new types of cordless phones................... 26

Government House gardener's guide to azaleas........................... 27

Drug prevention seminar for social workers............................. 29

Immigration Officers to be attached to UK Immigration.................. 30

New video to introduce household waste separation................... 31

Commissioner of ICAC takes salute at CSD's passing-out parade....... 32

Post Office recorded delivery service launched......................... 32

Government announces 1997-98 spending plans * ♦ ♦ * *

The draft estimates of expenditure for 1997-98 published today (Thursday) provide for significant increases in spending to improve services in areas where they are most needed.

Announcing this today, the Secretary for the Treasury, Mr K C Kwong, said: "The detailed draft estimates reflect the consensus reached in the Budget Expert Group set up under the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group. They have been drawn up in accordance with our long established budgetary principle that, over time, government expenditure should grow no faster than the economy. And they are consistent with Article 107 of the Basic Law which requires the future Special Administrative Region to keep its budget commensurate with the growth rate of its gross domestic product."

"The draft estimates are a clear demonstration of the cooperation between the two sides in the Budget Expert Group. They provide funds not only for the continuity of government services throughout the financial year but also for significant improvements in services where they are most needed," he said.

Government expenditure for the new financial year will total $202.2 billion.

Mr Kwong explained that of the $202.2 billion, $154.4 billion was for recurrent expenses on existing and new services and $47.8 billion for capital projects.

"Our spending priorities have been decided after consultations held by the Financial Secretary with members of the Legislative Council and community groups during the past year," he said.

Some highlights of our priority spending areas are:

On social welfare our recurrent spending will grow to $19.5 billion.

The Government will be providing -

* For the Elderly

An extra 1546 residential places

21 Social Centres

4 Day Care Centres and

5 Multi-Service Centres

2

* For People with a Disability

An additional 1664 residential places

1,150 day places

2 emergency residential care units

A new domiciliary occupational therapy service

5 clinical psychologists and

3 regional centres of the Community Rehabilitation Network for the chronically ill.

* For children with a disability

An additional 240 pre-school places (of which six are extra places for autistic children in special child care centres with additional staff)

♦ For children generally

An additional 3,149 day nursery places

362 day creche places

30 residential home places and

6 small group homes

* To strengthen family support

An extra 7 family caseworkers and

3 home help teams

♦ For young people at risk

14 extra school social workers and

1 more outreaching social work team

* 12 Additional medical social workers

* A further improvement to the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme by allowing elderly recipients to receive their monthly standard payment while retiring to Guangdong.

3

On Health the Government’s recurrent spending will grow to $25.8 billion.

The improvements include -

For the elderly

5 new nursing homes with 1,200 beds Enhancement of the general out-patient service and An additional community geriatric assessment team

* 669 additional hospital beds

* Enhancement of the specialist out-patient services in 2 hospitals

* A new general out-patient clinic

* A new maternal and child health centre

* A new chest clinic

* A new oral maxillofacial and dental unit

Strengthening of the Student Health Service

* Extension of the District Health System to Hong Kong Island

Strengthening of the pharmaceutical service for the control of the use of drugs

* Strengthening of the enforcement of food regulations

* Setting up of a port health unit and a food inspection unit at Chek Lap

Kok airport.

On education the Government's recurrent spending will grow to $38.1 billion.

"By spending more, we are able to make improvements in respect of a number of programmes on basic education," Mr Kwong said. These include -

For Primary education

* improving the ratio of students to guidance teachers reducing class size

an additional 350 graduate teachers converting 26 more schools to

whole-day teaching

4

For primary and secondary education

* extending civic education to all primary and secondary levels providing induction/extension courses and school-based support services to new arrival children

* improving financial assistance to needy primary and junior secondary students under the Textbook Assistance Scheme

enhancing support for Band 5 students in secondary schools

For special education

increasing school grant

* integrating children with special needs in ordinary schools implementing the recommendations of the Board of Education, including the provision of additional classroom assistants and special grants

Language Proficiency

implementing the recommendations in the Education Commission Report No.6 on improvement to language proficiency of students

* improving teaching and learning of Putonghua in schools

"On law and order, there will be around 600 additional police officers engaged in operational front-line and road traffic enforcement and control duties. And we will invest heavily in improving our emergency ambulance service by providing over 200 additional ambulance staff, 27 additional ambulances and 11 additional ambulance aid motorcycles," Mr Kwong said.

"This impressive list of improvements in our services is made possible by our continuing economic growth. Sustained economic growth will permit further improvements in the future," he said.

End

5

Transcript of Secretary for Treasury's press conference *****

Following is the transcript of the press conference on Draft Estimates 1997-98 held by the Secretary for the Treasury, Mr K C Kwong, today (Thursday):

Thank you very much for attending this press conference. May I introduce to you the speakers of the press conference. Mr K C Kwong, Secretary for the Treasury and his two deputies, Mr Kevin Ho and Mrs Carrie Lam, and also the Principal Assistant Secretary for the Treasury, Mr Cookson. After the photo-taking session I will ask Mr Kwong to speak to you.

Mr Kwong: I am happy to introduce to you our 1997-98 Draft Estimates of Expenditure. Today, we will publish the sets of Draft Estimates of Expenditure. Tomorrow, the Appropriation Bill will be gazetted. On next Wednesday, March 12, the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, will introduce his Budget to the LegCo, including the income side of the Budget.

This is a unique Budget. It covers the whole year of 1997-98 and covers the transition on July 1, 1997. Through the Expert Group of the JLG, we have had consultations for a long time on the Budget. After 19 rounds of meetings we came to a consensus. The Draft Estimates of Expenditure, we are publishing, therefore, cover a total of 12 months from April 1, 1997 to March 30, 1998. The Draft Estimates of Expenditure are for the provision of continuation of existing services as well as improvements to services and new services. I will highlight the important points on the expenditure side by way of the charts and then I will answer your questions.

Chart 2 is the overview, as I said. The Draft Estimates provide funds for continuation of existing services and for improvements to services. In considering improvements to services we have widely consulted the general public, including members of LegCo. Another consideration is the need to observe the budgetary principle that the government expenditure, over a period of time, should not exceed the trend growth rate of our economy. The trend growth rate is estimated to be 5% per annum.

Chart 3 indicates the relationship between government and public expenditure. Government expenditure is on the left-hand side of the chart. For the year 97-98, government expenditure has exceeded $200 billion for the first time. There are also expenditures in the realm of public expenditure, including trading funds, Lotteries Fund, Housing Authority and two Municipal Councils. Public expenditure will reach $248 billion, or about 18.3% of GDP. That is roughly the same as in previous few years.

6

The next chart is the cumulative growth in government expenditure compared with cumulative growth in GDP since 1986-87. It is a comparison to indicate that in controlling our expenditure, we are able to comply with the principle that the growth rate in government expenditure is similar to that of GDP. We use 86-87 as the starting point because we started our mid-range forecast in 86-87.

The next chart is the analysis of the current public expenditure by policy area group. You will notice that education has the greatest share at 21.2%. Other large sectors include health and social welfare.

The next chart is a similar analysis but it is the analysis of total public expenditure. So apart from recurrent expenditure, capital expenditure is also included. Education still occupies the largest share. Health and social welfare also have a substantial share.

Chart 7 is the recurrent expenditure growth in three policy areas in education, health and social welfare in the year 97-98. Expenditure for education will increase by $3.7 billion, health by $3.1 billion and social welfare by $2.8 billion. Percentagewise, education will increase by 3.4% in real terms, health by 6.5%, and social welfare by 9.4%.

The final chart shows the recurrent expenditure growth in the same three key policy areas in real terms over the last five years. So you notice that social welfare will grow by 86%, health 49%, and education 30%. So that is my briefing for the time being. I welcome your questions.

Reporter (in Chinese): A question for Mr Kwong. Mr Kwong, at LegCo just now, you mentioned 19 rounds of talks with the Chinese and the expenditure side does not need to be changed. But the Chinese side, Mr Chen Zou’er said that expenditure on social welfare increased too rapidly. Now you say that the expenditure side does not have to be changed. Is it true that the Chinese side has changed their mind after 19 rounds or is it true that the Hong Kong Government itself has adjusted the expenditure?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): Let’s look at it this way. In terms of expenditure for social welfare, our objective all along is to allocate money to satisfy the service demand to people in need. In our discussions with the Chinese side at the Expert Group, the Chinese side also appreciated this objective. So when we discussed expenditure for social welfare, we could reach a consensus to support this growth.

Reporter (in English): The 96-97 growth rate was like 13.7%. Now it's like 9.4%. And in your pages 8-9 of the booklet it seems to me that CSSA (inaudible) will be included in the 97-98 but only for those elderly recipients who go to the Mainland. Does it mean that there won't be any (inaudible) (inaudible) growth in 97-98?

7

Mr K C Kwong (in English): I think we have to take into account that from April 1, 1996 we introduced a package of improvements to CSSA payments. That package of improvements was made on the basis of a year long household survey done in 1995 and it cost us something like $500 million. So we have to consider in 97-98, when we increase expenditure and social welfare, which would be the priority areas. And if you look at the list of improvements set out in the introduction to the estimates you can in fact see that there is a comprehensive list of improvements covering services for the elderly, for children and for various groups who are at risk.

Reporter (in English): Mr Kwong, I am sure you discussed your Budget with Mr Tung Chee Hwa because your Budget is over 1997 and 1998. So what did Mr Tung Chee Hwa comment on your Budget?

Mr K C Kwong (in English): We have indeed briefed Mr Tung on the preparation of the Budget but 1 think you would accept that I would not let you have the detailed exchanges that we had with individuals.

Reporter (in English): I would like to ask you about the land premium figures. I note that the revised estimate for the current year has gone up to almost $60 billion. I would like to ask you why there has been such a rapid, by my calculation, 40% increase in land premium figures? Secondly, why there is going to be a similar 43% decrease projected for the coming financial year? And thirdly, given the windfall, if you like, why you could not be more generous on the expenditure side?

Mr K C Kwong (in English): Can you refer specifically to which figure in the published accounts for the funds?

Reporter (in English): 1 am referring to page 136 in the English language version, revenue analysis of the second half of that particular page: revised estimate for 96-97 of $59.841 billion, revised estimate for 97-98 of $34,477 billion.

Mr K C Kwong (in English): The main reason for the much higher revised estimate in 1996-97 is the buoyancy of the property market. In the last few months of 1996 and in the first couple of months in 1997 we see a certain keenness among property developers in agreeing premium assessments by the Lands Department. And in some of the cases, especially concerning modifications of leases, we have had exceptionally high premiums agreed, and that is the main reason for the rather higher figure of $59.8 billion in 96-97. It is not really realistic to try to compare land revenue between two consecutive years. The main reason is that land revenue is a capital revenue. It depends very much on the size, location, property market situation, etc, and therefore even if you are selling about the same amount of land in a year compared to the year before, you might get very different premia as a result.

8

As to your final question concerning expenditure and the relationship with revenue. I think there is a common misunderstanding that if we get more in revenue we can spend more. That is not how we control expenditure in formulating our Budget. The cardinal rule that we apply in expenditure control is that the growth in government expenditure should over time not exceed the forecast trend growth rate of the economy as a whole. And therefore while revenue might fluctuate and therefore in a particular year we might have revenue growth well in excess of economic growth, that does not mean that in that particular year we can relax our control over expenditure.

Reporter (in Chinese): About private treaty grants, about the revenue, the same question, just a follow-up. Mr Kwong, you mentioned modification of leases, etc. How about private treaty grants? Why is the figure like that?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): Well, it is the same reasoning. It is about the land market. Moreover, for the same size of the land the revenue may change. It is not meaningful to compare the land revenue of one year with that of another year. For 96-97 we have some high value land along the airport railway for sale.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Kwong, in the coming financial year, there is no need to allocate the land premium to the Land Fund. But you still estimate a very low figure for the premium. Why is that so?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): It is not that we estimate on the low side, but for 96-97 you can say that it has been higher than the normal trend. The figures mentioned are in the Suspense Account which have not been shared with the Land Fund yet. So starting from July 1, 1997, the change with regard to the sharing arrangement will not mean that the Suspense Account will suddenly increase its revenue.

Reporter (in Chinese) (follow-up): With regard to the process of the Budget talks, was it that there were concrete proposals from the Hong Kong side and followed by explanations to the Chinese side? Or before you draft your proposals you have heard the views of the Chinese officials and then you draft your proposals, so at the end the Chinese side will accept your proposals?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): I think it is difficult to answer your question. They have been speaking all the time, so how can you say whether we have accepted or we have considered that. Say, in January 96, it was said that we should follow our cautious and prudent approach that we should comply with the Basic Law. That has all along been done. For the specific proposals, I can tell you clearly that the policy branches and the departments carefully considered and come up with the proposals. The Star Chamber considered all the proposals which were then put as a whole proposal to the Expert Group for discussion.

9

Reporter (in Chinese): I have a follow-up question concerning the Capital Works Reserve Funds Suspense Account. The amount shared by the SAR Land Fund in 96-97 was not very high. Can Mr Kwong explain that?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): Well, the answer is this, that the apportionment of the fund is not done immediately after a piece of land is sold. After we have received the land premium for every quarter, we. after deducting the cost of land development, apportion the premium in the following quarter. The amount in the Suspense Account for 96-97 was very high but a portion of which was income in the last quarter of the financial year from January 1. 97 to 31 March 97. According to our established practice, the funds would be allocated to the Land Fund in the following quarter starting from 1 April.

Reporter (in English): Mr Kwong, I wonder if - There have been a number of questions asked about the actual Budget planning process and I for one. I just wish you could take us a little bit inside the room and let us know. 1 mean the agenda was the same - create a Budget. But was there give and take, was it 50/50, did the Chinese side come in with their own plans and concrete numbers? How much give and take was there?

Mr K C Kwong (in English): You would be bored if 1 say we have approached the preparation of this Budget in a pragmatic, positive and co-operative manner. But that is true. And also, in the preparation process, it was agreed very early on that the detailed preparation would have to be carried out by the departments in the Hong Kong Government. And the proposals all emanated from the I long Kong Government departments concerned.

Reporter (in English): You said it's pragmatic and there has been co-operation. But late last year Chen Zou’er said something about welfare spending is like a Formula One car racing, and it could crash, bringing with it the whole population. So did that put the brakes on the welfare spending - proposal like that, just like (inaudible)9.4% increase?

Mr K C Kwong (in English): I think all we need to do is look at the list of improvements that will be introduced in 97-98 to see that we have not put a brake on what we feel are necessary improvements in the social welfare sector.

Reporter (in English): No. but they are the same improvements. Every year you have got those extra places for residential elderly, creches, nurseries.

10

Mr K C Kwong (in English): I think that is being unfair on the welfare people because they do work very hard in providing additional residential places, additional day-care centres and so on.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Kwong, can you explain to us the trend? Now, concerning capital works, the peak has already passed. This affects the total government revenue, and its proportion to the total expenditure. But why is there still such a great increase on capital works expenditure?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): Now, you mentioned revenue and you also mentioned expenditure, I don't understand your point. I am talking about expenditure.

Reporter (in Chinese): Overall public expenditure published last week has taken a smaller share in GDP. That is because the peak of capital expenditure has already passed. But in this Budget, we have not seen any decline in capital expenditure.

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): What figure are you referring to?

Reporter (in Chinese): If you could refer to page 11 of the booklet, Public Expenditure by Policy Group. For two items there are significant declines but for buildings, lands and planning, there is an increase of 44.9%. For the CWRF volume 2, many items are upgraded to category B. Is it because of the fact that as the peak period of the airport programme has already passed, some other capital works programmes can be upgraded?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): Well, you are talking about something which is not said by me. So 1 don't know the background of your question. In our introduction to the estimates, page 11, Infrastructure - Buildings, Lands and Planning, one reason for the increase in expenditure is the expenditure on land resumption. For 97-98 there will be an increased expenditure compared with that of 96. I will ask Mrs Lam to tell you the details.

If we take away the expenditure on lands, in terms of public works, following the completion of the airport core programmes, the expenditure on infrastructure for 97-98 will not reach an optimum level. We are considering the public works projects which can be brought forward.' As for lands, I will ask Mrs Lam to tell you the details.

11

DS for Tsy - Mrs Lam (in Chinese): I think, Ms Chan, you are right that when we look at the expenditure of the Capital Works Reserve Fund in volume II after taking away the $5.5 billion for land resumption, our public works expenditure for 97-98 is about the same as that in 96-97. There is almost no growth in real terms. But we cannot look at infrastructure expenditure on just a one year basis. If you look at 97-98, because of the completion of a number of large scale highway projects related to the Airport Core Programmes, say the Route Three, the Lantau Link and the West Kowloon Expressway, expenditure on roads has declined. There is a decline of 22% in real terms. That said, the significant expenditure increase in Buildings, Lands and Planning is attributable to a number of reasons. First, expenditure involved in land resumption in 1997/98 is expected to increase about three times. Secondly, in line with our objective on building development, we will take projects forward as far as possible having regard to our capability in expanding our works programme, for example, for the education sector. Capital expenditure on education is included under this head. They include projects for primary and secondary schools, special education as well as improvements to existing schools. They will be carried out in full-swing. The expenditure in this area will be in the region of $2.7 billion.

Reporter (in Chinese): So in other words, because of the completion of the airport construction, certain infrastructure projects which were awarded lower priority can be upgraded and benefited?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): We can't put it this way. Every year when we consider the resource allocation for our works taking into account our requirements for the coming five or ten years. The allocation of resources is not affected by the airport core programmes. It has been affected by planning, land resumption and other preparatory work. These factors affect the start dates of the projects.

Reporter (in Chinese): Just now you mentioned the expenditure for resumption of land in the coming year - it will be increased by three times. I guess it is because the government will redeem the Letters A/B. Now, how many of them have not been exercised for the moment? And you will spend $2.4 billion to redeem these entitlements in the coming year. Is it true that this $2.4 billion is enough to redeem all the outstanding entitlements of land exchange?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): For redemption of Letters A/B involving cash redemption, it is about 2.3 hectares in area. We estimate that $2.4 billion will be adequate.

Reporter (in Chinese): Now, Mr Chen Zuo’er said a few days ago that the Central Government will not take part in the preparation of the Budget for 1998/99. When you formulate the Budget will you still have to consult the Central Government so as to avoid criticism about crashing a Formula One car?

12

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): If you're talking about the Budget for 1998/99, of course that will be within the autonomy of the SAR Government. The Basic Law has clear stipulations regarding the guidelines in the formulation of our Budget.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Kwong, well, with regard to the Basic Law procedure, apart from seeking endorsement by LegCo and also the provisional legislature, will you report to the Central Government or will it be submitted to the Central Government for record? What is the whole procedure, the special procedure for this year?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): The Basic Law will only take effect on July 1. Our view is that, say, for the Appropriation Bill, when LegCo pass it on April 16 as we hope, we will complete the appropriation procedure.

Reporter (in Chinese): What will be followed?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): And for the revenue aspects, after the Appropriation Bill is passed, we will submit budget legislation on revenue proposals to LegCo. When they are passed, the procedure is completed.

Reporter (in Chinese): How about the provisional legislature? I think the JLG has reached a consensus.

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): The stand of the Hong Kong Government about the provisional legislature is very clear. I don’t have to repeat that.

Reporter (in Chinese): After July 1, what will be the scenario? How will you liaise with the Central Government with respect to the Budget for the SAR?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): After July 1, the relationship between the SAR Government and the Central Government has been clearly set out in the Basic Law.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Kwong, about the public works spending. There is still under-spending by several billion dollars this year. The Government has hoped to improve the under-spending situation for a few years. Why is it that you still can’t improve the situation?

Another question is about resumption of land involving an expenditure increase by three times. Does that include the resumption of land with respect to the West Rail?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): About the under-spending in capital works, I wonder where you get the data saying that it is very serious. Mrs Lam can answer that. The present situation has improved actually.

13

Mrs Lam (in Chinese): The under-spending in the Capital Works Reserve Fund in the Revised Estimates of 1996-97 is about $5 billion. But I do not agree that it shows that we have not improved on the under-spending situation or the progress of the works. In the early 90's, in terms of under-spending it was 30% or 35%. In the revised estimates for 1996-97, the under-spending factor, if we discount certain delays involved in land matters, is as low as 6% in terms of our capability to proceed on our works expenditure. This is the best performance since the early 90's, I can say.

Reporter (in Chinese): Does the increased expenditure on resumption of land include the West Rail?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): In terms of resumption of land we do not just look at individual lots and what lots we have to resume in 1997-98. It is not like that. We follow a trend on the approximate amount of land to be resumed. As for the actual areas of land to be resumed, the compensation and the timing, we can only have a clearer picture nearer the time.

Reporter (in Chinese): What is the rental for the Chief Executive’s Office in a year? How is it covered?

• •

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): I’m afraid I don’t have specific figures for the rental for the CE’s Office.

Reporter (in Chinese): A follow-up in terms of resumption of land. There has not been major resumption of land in the past few years. You say that you follow the trend in doing your calculations. Does it mean that you exclude the West Rail?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): As I said, it is hard to say whether we include or exclude the West Rail. For example, if there is a need for resumption, say in early 1998, we will proceed in the year of 1997-98. If there is no need for a certain lot, we may have other needs. Resumption of land was not something to be decided specifically when we formulated the budget. We didn't have the number of lots in mind.

Reporter: (in English) There isn't any mention of either the West Rail or the Tseung Kwan O extension in the estimates. Does that mean the projects are on hold?

Mr K C Kwong (in English): With respect to the West Rail and the Tseung Kwan O Railway proposals, the detailed planning work is at present being carried out by the two corporations. Of course there will be a need for some additional resources in government departments like Transport Department, Highways Department, Transport Branch and so on, to take forward the consideration of these proposals. So the planning process is proceeding apace but we have not specifically earmarked funds for the purpose of injecting equity or extending loans to the two corporations. The main reason is the detailed proposals, including the financing package, have yet to be worked out.

14

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Kwong, a follow-up on the CE's office expenditure. Apart from staffing and rental covered in two items, during this period when the CE is still the CE (designate), how can you make arrangements so that you can get the refund or reimbursement from the Central Government in future? Do you have additional commitments? What sub-heads reflect that?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): Well, I don't quite get your question. Why is it that we have to chase up the Central Government for money?

Reporter (in Chinese): Well not chase after, you have to seek reimbursement in fact.

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): For the CE's office, when there is a need for expenditure, it is now met by the Director of Admin, under the Head for the offices of the CS and the FS. Of course that is for general kind of expenditure. If you talk about expenditure of the staff, it depends on where the staff are seconded from. Perhaps the expenditure will be covered by that particular department for short-term secondment of this kind. As for rentals, it is accounted for under the Government Property Agency. At this point in time I don't see the scenario where it may involve money matters with the Central Government.

Reporter (in Chinese): About other expenditures, under what heads are those expenditures considered?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): Well, if it is general departmental expenditure, it is met by the Director of Administration. For secondment of staff, say the Treasury Department has to second an accountant to the office to look at the systems, then it will be for short term secondment and the person will return to the Treasury Department. The Treasury will pay for the salary of the seconded officer. That is the ordinary arrangement for secondment between Government departments.

Reporter (in Chinese): But for similar questions asked by Mr Cheung Man-kwong for the OOCL staff and other staff seconded to the CE’s office. So there are other expenditures. Under what heads are those expenditures included?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): Well, for general expenditure, it is under the head controlled by the Director of Administration under the office of CS and FS.

Reporter (in Chinese): In the Draft Estimates 1997-98 for the Government House head, there is a decline of 23%. For the Directorate establishment, there is also a reduction by seven posts. Why?

15

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): In June 96, the establishment of the Political Adviser’s office is transferred from the Government Secretariat to Government House. The Political Adviser’s office will cease its work on 30 June. So in the Draft Estimate for 97-98, we only reserve the funding for three months. Comparing it with 96-97, there is therefore such a difference.

Reporter (in Chinese): There is a slight increase in additional commitments for the next year. Is there any special items, say for the handover or unexpected items like that?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): Additional commitments are to earmark funds for expediter which cannot be precisely identified at this time or unexpected expenditure as you said. For example, the increase in salaries of civil servants and staff of subverted agencies or infiation-linked adjustments. Since those expenditures cannot be forecast correctly, I cannot say what items they are.

Reporter (in Chinese): There is an increase compared to last year.

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): If you look at growth in real terms, there isn’t an increase.

Reporter (in Chinese): I have two questions, the first on housing. Mr Tung said he was concerned about the housing issue. A large part of the Budget will be within his term of office. Have you discussed with him on housing in relation to the Budget and are the conclusions of your discussions reflected in the Budget?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): Concerning housing, if you look at the introduction to estimates, the majority of the expenditure on housing is the expenditure of the Housing Authority. You know that for the government estimates, it has not included a large part of the public expenditure on housing. The second point is that we briefed Mr Tung on the preparation of the Draft Estimates. Mr Tung was elected in about December last year, when by and large we had already decided on our draft estimates of expenditures.

Reporter (in Chinese): Recently, people are concerned about the new immigrants. Has the Administration considered taking care of the new immigrants in this Draft Estimates?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): When you can look at individual heads in our expenditure, you will see that we have increased our expenditure to assist the new immigrants to integrate with our community.

16

Reporter (in Chinese): What is the percentage share on the whole?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): I don't have the figure at hand.

Reporter (in Chinese): You mentioned the expenditure head of the Director of Administration is under the Government House. We want to know how much is earmarked for the Government House before the transition and how much for the CE after the transition.

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): In drafting our Estimates we adopt a 12 months scenario. We do not earmark the expenditure before or after a certain month.

Reporter (in Chinese): In the past few years, to a certain extent the Budget has followed the Governor's Policy Address to implement it. I want to know what is the involvement of the Governor in drafting the Draft Estimates?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): The Governor's involvement in the preparation of this Draft Estimates has not been different from his involvement in the past. Last year, in publishing Governor's Policy Address, we said to you that 97-98 was a unique year. In considering resource allocation, we did not specifically follow the Policy Address.

Reporter (in Chinese): Is the land premium for CT-9 included in the 97-98 land revenue? Secondly, the CE will formally take office on 1 July. Will there be any difference on the expenditure of Government House? Do you follow the established practice or have you talked to Mr Tung and come up with a different budget?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): When we consider the land revenue for 97/98 we have taken into account the land that could possibly be sold but I cannot disclose the details of individual sites. As for the establishment of the CE's office, our assumption is that the establishment of Government House will continue. After 1 July, if there is any need to change the establishment, we will approve it when it is under delegated authority. If it falls outside our delegate authority, we will seek the approval of the Finance Committee.

Reporter (in English): A few clarifications. First of all on the question of the revised land premium figure, almost $60 billion. I presume this is a record figure. I want to get my facts right.

Mr Cookson (in English): I think we would be presuming as well.

17

Reporter (in English): The second point is, the booklet talks about a 5.6% increase in recurrent government expenditure. Do you have the figure for the percentage increase for total government expenditure?

Mr Cookson (in English): The total growth figure for government expenditure is 6.4%.

Reporter (in Mandarin): The expenses for the provisional legislature for the time being come from the Central Government. How will you provide for the reimbursement after July 1 within your Budget?

Mr K C Kwong (in Mandarin): The position of the Hong Kong Government with respect to the provisional legislature is very clear. There is no need for me to answer this question.

Reporter (in Chinese): About the land sales, the government has undertaken to provide more land for residential purposes. In the coming year, for land revenue it will be less by half, actually. Can you say something about land sales next year, say how many hectares will be for residential? Next year we don’t need any land sales restrictions in terms of discussion between Britain and China. Will you sell more or less land next year?

Mr K C Kwong: The Lands Department and the PEL Branch have a blueprint for the land sales programme for 97/98. We still have to discuss with the Chinese through the Land Commission for the first three months of the year, that is from April to June. Part of the blueprint is still being discussed. It is hard for me to give specific information about what kind of land will be sold or how many hectares will be involved.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Kwong, about public housing expenditure, page 7 and page 13 of the booklet say that there is a growth of 9.2% and 16%. Then page 13, Capital Expenditure, it is rising significantly. But you also said that this kind of expenditure does not include most of the expenditure of the HA.

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): It does include it.

Reporter (in Chinese): Sorry, it does include it. Now, can you elaborate on that, on the details of the expenditure?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): It is hard for me to answer Housing Authority expenditure on their behalf. It is just like you are asking me about the expenditure of the Urban Council. It is hard for me to speak on their behalf.

18

Reporter (in Chinese): But it is a growth of 16%. What would be the main area for the increase?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): I understand it to be the increase in expenditure relating to housing production and maintenance. As for the details, you have to ask the HA.

Reporter (in Chinese): The premium for a few months next year still has to be shared with the Land Fund. What is the share to the Land Fund? In the past, half will go into that account.

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): Please refer to Volume 2, CWRF, footnote 2. You can do the calculations. By my very quick calculations, it is about $11.4 billion.

Reporter (in Chinese): For the head of the LegCo Secretariat, it seems that there is a reduction of 20% in expenditure. In calculating this, have you considered the new round of elections in future with respect to LegCo? Have you considered the relationship between the provisional legislature and the present LegCo? It is in Volumn IB, head 112.

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): For your second question, our assumption is that the legislature after July 97 will have a similar mode of operation and funding requirement. This is the basis for formulating the estimates.

DS for Tsy, Mr Kevin Ho (in Chinese): The answer to the first question is straight forward. Some of the staff of LegCo are contract staff. When their contracts expire in 96-97, there is gratuity involved. This will not be repeated in 97/98. So next year’s expenditure will be less as a result.

End

19

Substantial increase in expenditure on basic education *****

The Government will continue to invest heavily in improving education in Hong Kong in the 1997-98 financial year. The total expenditure on education is about $45,315 billion, which represents the largest share (18.2 per cent)of the total public expenditure.

This was revealed by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr Joseph W P Wong, this (Thursday) afternoon at a press conference on the 1997/98 draft estimates of expenditure on education and employment.

He noted that the expenditure on education in 1997/98 represented a nominal increase of 15.7 per cent over the revised estimate of this year or 7.7 per cent in real terms. The figure was higher than the 6.9 per cent increase in real terms of the total public expenditure.

Mr Wong pointed out that as the tertiary education has entered a consolidation stage, the increase in expenditure on basic education will be comparatively higher than that of tertiary education. The expenditure on basic education is $30,669 billion or 67.7 per cent of the total expenditure on education. This represents an increase of 18.3 per cent and 10.3 per cent in nominal and real terms respectively over that of the current year.

He emphasised that improvements would be made in six main areas to enhance the development of basic education at a non-recurrent expenditure of $3,831 billion and recurrent expenditure of over $900 million a year. The estimated expenditure for 1997/98 is $278 million.

The six areas of improvements and new measures are: (1) teaching and learning environment; (2) support services for new arrival children; (3) quality of school education; (4) special education; (5) language proficiency; and (6) civic education.

To improve teaching and learning environment, Mr Wong said the Government will:

* build nine schools, including six primary and three secondary schools, by the 1999 academic year at a non-recurrent cost of $488 million and recurrent cost of $194 million a year; and

* improve the environment of another 150 schools at a non-recurrent expenditure of $2,557 billion between 1997 and 2000.

20

The support services for new arrival children will include:

* building nine new secondary schools by the 1999 academic year, in addition to five new primary schools to be completed by the end of 1997 academic year, at a non-recurrent cost of $ 479 million and a recurrent cost of $298 million a year;

* provision of school-based support services for some 9,600 new arrival students at a recurrent cost of $ 21 million; and

* lower the admission age from 18 to 15 for all adult education courses.

On enhancing quality of school education, Mr Wong said the various measures will include:

* extension of reduction of class size to Primary 5;

* provision of further support for implementing Target Oriented Curriculum and School Management Initiative;

* conversion of an additional 126 uni-sessional/bi-sessional primary schools to whole-day operation between 1997 and 2000;

* an increase of 95 student guidance teacher (SGT) between 1997 and 1999 to improve the SGT to pupil ratio from 1:2500 to 1:1680;

* provision of 350 additional graduate teacher posts in primary schools in the 1997 academic year;

* an increase of textbook allowance to students by 40 per cent;

* strengthening support services provided for band five students; and

* provision of an additional Clerical Assistant to each aided primary school with 28 to 35 classes.

Regarding the improvement of special education, the government will implement the priority areas of the recommendations put forward by the Board of Education Sub-committee on Special Education. The recommendations include revision of the provision of school nurses, improvement of the provision of boarding staff, improvement of the provision of boarding staff and provision of a resource centre for special education teachers. The non-recurrent expenditure is $4 million and the recurrent expenditure is $32 million a year. Besides, the government will introduce a pilot scheme to promote integration of students with special education needs in mainstream schools at a recurrent cost of $20 million a year.

21

To enhance the language proficiency of students, the government will continue to implement the recommendations of the Education Commission Report No. 6. The English and Chinese Extensive Reading Schemes will be extended to all levels of primary and secondary schools at a recurrent cost of $27 million a year. The government will also increase the provision of intensive English courses to Secondary 6 and 7 students and set up a Language Resources Centre.

As to measures to promote civic education, the provision of grants for introducing the subject, which is currently provided for Secondary 1 to 3 levels, will be extended to all primary levels and Secondary 4 to 7.

Mr Wong noted that the expenditure on tertiary education for 1997/98 is estimated to be $14,646 billion, representing an increase of 10.6 per cent in nominal terms or three per cent in real terms over the current year.

In view of an increasing number of students applying for grants and loans and increases in academic expenses, the government proposes to raise the total amount of grants and loans provided for students of the Shue Yan College to $7.4 million and $16.7 million respectively. The figures represent an increase of $2.1 million in grants and $9.5 million in loans as compared with this year's. The average amount of financial assistance to each student applying for grants and loans will be increased to around $26,000 , which represents an increase of about 60 per cent in real terms.

Turning to employment, Mr Wong said about $1,273 billion will be spent in 1997-98 to maintain and improve employment services and to promote labour relations and safety at work. Of the amount, some $599 million, a 15 per cent increase in nominal terms and seven per cent increase in real terms, will be allocated to the Labour Department (LD).

The LD's expenditure will cover four main areas: occupational safety and health (about $ 237 million or 39.7 per cent of LD's total expenditure); employees' rights and benefits (about $179 million or 29.9 per cent of LD's total expenditure); employment services ($106 million or 17.7 per cent of LD's total expenditure); and labour relations ($76 million or 12.7 per cent of LD's total expenditure).

Mr Wong noted that the government will allocate an additional $35 million to implement new initiatives in the employment area. The initiatives include implementation of the new legislation on occupational safety and health in the nonindustrial sectors, enhancement of the jurisdiction of the Minor Employment Claims adjudication Board, and improvement to guidance and employment services for new immigrants.

Resources will also be allocated to the Vocational Training Council to fund its comprehensive vocational training and apprenticeship training.

End

22

Proposed increases in education expenditure welcomed *****

Director of Education, Mrs Helen C P Lai Yu, today (Thursday) welcomed the increase of $1.1 billion in Government’s proposed allocation to the Education Department for recurrent and non-works capital spending in the 1997-98 financial year.

"This is 5.4 per cent over the 1996-97 Revised Estimate and compares with last year’s increase of four per cent," Mrs Yu said.

"With this proposed increase, Education Department’s budget will be $21.55 billion.

"We are firmly committed to improving school education. We plan to introduce new initiatives and enhance existing services," she said.

End

Labour Department welcomes increase in proposed expenditure *****

In response to media enquiries, the Commissioner for Labour, Miss Jacqueline Willis, today (Thursday) welcomed Government’s proposed allocation of $599.5 million to the Labour Department in the 1997-98 financial year.

Miss Willis said this represented an increase of 15 per cent ($78.1 million) over the 1996-97 revised estimates of $521.4 million. In real terms, this was an increase of seven per cent.

She said, with the proposed expenditure, the Labour Department will be able to continue to improve the quality of its existing services and introduce new initiatives to promote the well-being and safety of our workforce.

End

23

Long-term Prison Sentences Review Bill *****

The Governor in Council has endorsed a Bill to further enhance the transparency, efficiency and fairness of the prison sentence review and remission system, a Government spokesman said today (Thursday).

At present, long-term prison sentences, including life sentences and detention at Her Majesty's pleasure, are reviewed, on a regular basis, by the advisory Board of Review, Long Term Prison Sentences.

The spokesman said that the Government proposed to introduce legislation to govern the procedures for the review of these sentences.

"The legislation will establish the existing Board as a statutory body and will give it additional tools to help it in discharging its functions, including the making of conditional release and post-release supervision orders," he said.

Under the proposals, the new Board, called the Long-term Prison Sentences Review Board, will have eight to 11 members, two of whom must be serving or former judges of the Supreme Court. The two judicial members will serve as President and Deputy President of the Board.

"The Board will be empowered to prescribe post-release supervision for prisoners whose indeterminate sentences have been changed to determinate sentences by the Governor on the Board's advice," the spokesman said.

"Post-release supervision for other prisoners serving determinate sentences will remain in the purview of the Post-Release Supervision Board."

A Conditional Release Under Supervision Scheme is also proposed. Under this scheme, the new Board may order certain prisoners to be released conditionally with supervision, whose indeterminate sentences may be changed to determinate sentences upon successful completion of the scheme.

"This scheme will provide an additional tool to the new Board," the spokesman said.

Changes are also proposed to the present system for reviewing cases involving discretionary life sentences and detention at Her Majesty's pleasure.

24

The spokesman said that under the new arrangements, for existing cases, the Chief Justice would make recommendation for approval by the Governor, on the appropriate minimum term to be served, or the "tariff period".

"For new cases, the trial judge would specify, in open court, the tariff period, which would be part of the sentence.

"The new Board would consider recommending a determinate sentence after the prisoner has served his full tariff period," he said.

Prisoners transferred back to Hong Kong to serve the remainder of their sentences would also be eligible for consideration by the new Board for remission of sentences, the spokesman added.

The Long-term Prison Sentences Review Bill will be gazetted on Friday (March 7). It is expected to be introduced into the Legislative Council on March 19 this year.

End

Registered Designs Bill to protect industrial designs * * * * *

A Registered Designs Bill, which aims to establish an independent registered designs system in Hong Kong for the protection of industrial designs in line with international standards, will be gazetted tomorrow (Friday).

A spokesman for the Trade and Industry Branch said: "At present, Hong Kong does not have a separate designs registry. Under the existing provisions of the United Kingdom Designs (Protection) Ordinance, Cap. 44, a design is automatically protected in Hong Kong if it is registered in the United Kingdom.

"A new local registered designs law needs to be enacted before July 1, 1997 because the existing law is dependent on the United Kingdom designs law."

He said: "Agreement was reached by the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group Meeting in November 1995 on the proposals for localising the registered designs law in Hong Kong."

25

The spokesman said: "Design articles occupy an important place in our economy and cover an extremely wide range of goods, such as domestic appliances, furniture, textiles, fashion, jewellery and watches.

"In many cases, design is the decisive factor in the commercial success of a commercial product. The investment in developing a design can be substantial and the commercial risk can be high. On the other hand, once a design has become a success, it costs only a fraction of the original research and development cost to reproduce it. Design protection is of great importance to Hong Kong and especially to the small and medium enterprises."

He said: "A draft Registered Designs Bill was issued to parties concerned in the industrial, professional and academic fields during a consultation exercise from December 1996 to January 1997. We have as far as possible incorporated the comments received in this Bill.

"Under the Bill, the period of protection of a design registered with the proposed Hong Kong Designs Registry will be for an initial period of five years. Registration may be extended for four periods of five years each upon payment of the prescribed renewal fee. The maximum duration of protection will be 25 years.

"For continuity, designs already registered in the United Kingdom will be deemed as Hong Kong registered designs after the commencement of the new law.

"The Bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council on March 19 in order to ensure that the necessary legislative and administrative system can be put into place before July 1, 1997", he added.

End

Use of Chinese in High Court jury trials *****

The Jury (Amendment) Bill 1997, which aims mainly to amend the Jury Ordinance to enable the Judiciary to conduct jury trials in the High Court in Chinese before July 1, 1997, will be gazetted tomorrow (Friday).

The opportunity is also taken to amend the list of those exempted from jury service to include the Legal Adviser of the Legislative Council Secretariat and his legally qualified assistants, and the spouses (instead of just the wives) of the Chief Justice, the Justices of Appeal and judges of the High Court.

26

A Government spokesman explained today (Thursday) that the Judiciary’s objective was to put in place by July 1, 1997 a wholly bilingual court system in which either English or Chinese can be used at all levels of the courts.

Since 1974, lawyers and magistrates have been able to use either of the languages in the magistrates' courts. The Official Languages (Amendment) Ordinance 1995 was also enacted in July 1995 to remove the restrictions on the use of Chinese in the higher courts and certain tribunals.

This was applied to the District Court and the Lands Tribunal in February 1996 and to the High Court (for hearing appeals from magistrates’ courts, the Labour Tribunal and the Small Claims Tribunal) in December 1996.

At present proceedings in the High Court, except appeals from the lower courts and tribunals, and the Court of Appeal can still be conducted only in English. The Judiciary proposes to remove these restrictions on a phased basis by July 1, 1997.

"Accordingly, there is a need to amend the Jury Ordinance to change the language requirement for jurors from English to 'the language in which the proceedings are to be conducted', ie English or Chinese," the spokesman said.

End

No licences for sale of new types of cordless phones *****

The Govemor-in-Council has approved the making of an exemption order to permit the sale and use of new types of cordless telephones and cordless data communications equipment without the need of obtaining a licence.

The previous exemption order only covers existing types of cordless telephones conforming to the CT-0 and the CT-2 standards.

"The new exemption order will allow the sale and use of equipment conforming to the Japanese Personal Handy-Phone System (PHS) and the European Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) technical standards and certain types of cordless telephones conforming to American standards in addition to the existing types of cordless telephones CT-0 and CT-2," said an OFTA’s spokesman.

27

"Although the PHS and DECT technologies may be used for public mobile services called Cordless Access Service (CAS), the new exemption order will cover the use of the equipment for private communications only."

Equipment suppliers and dealers are advised that only equipment that have been type-approved by OFTA may be sold to the public. All approved equipment should bear an identification label designated by OFTA (copy reproduced below). The public should only purchase cordless telephones which have displayed such a label.

Under the Telecommunication Ordinance, it is an offence to possess, use or sell unapproved cordless telephones and upon summary conviction, the person responsible will be liable to a fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for 2 years. Use of cordless telephones not approved by OFTA could also cause interference to authorized radio services.

The approved exemption order including the full technical specifications is available at OFTA's library for public inspection or accessible from OFTA's Internet home page (URL address: http://www.ofla.gov.hk) or the Bulletin Board Service (tel. no. 2834 0119).

End

Government I louse gardener's guide to azaleas *****

The head gardener of Government House. Miss Kennie Law, and her team of 15 colleagues are still working feverishly making final preparations for the annual Azalea Open Day on Saturday and Sunday (March 8 and 9).

Miss Kennie Law, who looks after more than two hectares of garden at Government House, could not hide her enthusiasm when she talked about the azaleas. "This is the best time of the year to see them as most of the flowers are in their full bloom," she said.

"At Government House, there are fifteen kinds of azaleas in various colours, including purple, white, pink and orange ones. When you visit the garden on Saturday or Sunday, do look for all of them."

28

Along the visit route on the Open Day, there is a Chinese pavilion in the back garden. "Under the shade of the pavilion are impatiens. New Guinea impatiens and hosta from Holland. The impatiens look like mini pink roses while the New Guinea impatiens are red and purple," Miss Law said.

The most popular spot for photographs is a flight of stairs, also in the back garden.

"Looking up. you will find the stairs leading to the back of Government House. We call this place 'Lau Shui Heung' (running water sound) because there used to be water running down from the planting area. Now we have grown different flowers on both sides of the stairs, including pink azaleas and azaleas simsii."

Up the stairs is a small fountain. In the adjacent gardens there are roses, purple Lantana and camellia. "We have more than 10 kinds of camellia here. The colours range from white, red to pink. Some of them are from Japan," Miss Law said.

The public will also have the chance to see the inside of Government House through the main lobby.

Miss Law has appealed to the public to be careful with the plants as it has taken them about two months to prepare for this annual event.

"Please do not walk on the grass, not to litter and not to pick flowers. Be considerate so that more people can enjoy the flowers," she said.

Government House will be open to the public on Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm.

An extra day. on March 15 (Saturday), has been set aside for wheelchair users, including people with a disability and elderly persons. Admission on this day is by ticket only. All tickets have been distributed and no ticket is available now.

End

29

Drug prevention seminar for social workers ♦ * * ♦ ♦

The focus of Hong Kong’s anti-drug preventive education and publicity programme for this (1997) year will continue to be on young persons despite the drop in the number of young drug abusers reported, the Assistant Secretary for Security (Narcotics), Mr Lam Ka-tai, said today (Thursday).

Mr Lam was addressing the Seminar on "Drug Abuse Prevention Among Youths" attended by more than 150 in-service and student social workers.

Jointly organised by the Action Committee Against Narcotics (ACAN) and the Social Welfare Department, the seminar was aimed at keeping social workers abreast of Hong Kong’s anti-drug efforts and enhancing their skills in dealing with young drug abusers.

Mr Lam said: "In the first nine months of 1996, there were 3,076 young drug abusers under the age of 21 reported to the Narcotics Division's Central Registry of Drug Abuse, representing a decrease of 7 per cent when compared with the corresponding figure of 1995. This figure represented an even bigger drop of 12.6 per cent when compared with the corresponding figure of 1994.

“The proportion of young people involved in drug abuse remains relatively small, which is around 3.6 per 1.000 of the population aged 11 -20.

"Notwithstanding the drop in the number of young drug abusers, we are not complacent. We believe that the problem of drug abuse should best be tackled at source through preventive education efforts."

Apart from today’s seminar for social workers, Mr Lam said the preventive education and publicity programme would include the following components:

* three new TV Announcement of Public Interest (APIs) to promote an anti-drug culture among young persons ;

♦ the use of internet to educate them on the harmful effects of drug abuse;

on-going drug education talks for secondary and primary 6 students and parents of secondary students by the Narcotics Division;

* workshops for in-service and trainee teachers.

30

Mr Lam said: "One of the three TV APIs specifically aims at educating young people that there is no difference between ’hard’ and ’soft' drugs in terms of its harmful effects to drug abusers."

Mr Lam went on to explain the role of Narcotics Division in the preventive education and publicity programme and Government resources available to social workers for drug abuse prevention work.

Other topics examined at today's seminar were social workers' role in drug abuse prevention among youths, drug education in schools, treatment of young drug abusers in substance abuse clinics and therapeutic group work in drug abuse prevention.

Also speaking at the seminar were the Assistant Director of Social Welfare (Youth and Rehabilitation) Mr Carlos Leung: the Consultant Psychiatrist of Castle Peak Hospital, Dr Leung Shung-pun; the Principal Inspector (Biological Sciences) of the Education Department, Mr Ho Chung-nin; and the Service Development Officer of the Society for the Aid and Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers, Mr Lee King-fai; and Social Work Officer of Against Substance Abuse Scheme of the Social Welfare Department, Mr Tan Tick-yee.

End

Immigration Officers to be attached to UK Immigration *****

Four immigration officers will leave for the United Kingdom in the middle of March for a five-week attachment programme with the United Kingdom Immigration Service.

The four officers are Acting Senior Immigration Officers Mrs Sharon Lai Kwok Sau-han, Messrs Choi Wai-lun and William Lee Hok-lim and Acting Immigration Officer Mr Cheung Hon-ping. They will visit branches of the Home Office handling immigration and nationality matters as well as immigration offices and ports.

31

At a briefing before their departure, the Director of Immigration Mrs Regina Ip pointed out that the Immigration Department placed great importance on giving its staff professional training.

She also said that due to the growing complexity of immigration work, members of the Service needed to be vigilant and alert. Mrs Ip said she hoped the attachment would provide a good opportunity for the officers to broaden their horizon and to have a better understanding of the work of their counterparts in the United Kingdom.

End

New video to introduce household waste separation * ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has recently produced a promotional video aiming to encourage public participation in source separation and recovery of household waste.

Entitled "Green Families", the 20-minute video is presented in a drama format. It introduces in an entertaining way the basic ingredients for organising and implementing campaigns on waste separation at source.

"Source recovery and separation of waste is an effective means to facilitate recovery and recycling, thus reducing the quantity of waste requiring final disposal at the scarce landfills," said EPD Assistant Director (Waste Facilities), Mr Benny Wong.

He said that various government departments were actively examining complementary measures on waste reduction. These measures when finalised will form part of the Government’s Waste Reduction Plan, which is expected to be put out for public consultation shortly.

"However, the success of waste reduction requires the full support from all sectors of the community," he added.

Mutual Aid Committees and residents associations of public housing estates can obtain copies of the new video and information packs on source separation of household waste through the management office of respective estates.

32

Owners' corporations, private housing tenants' associations and other organisations interested in obtaining the waste reduction video package can contact EPD's Facilities Planning Group at 2835 1089.

Information materials on waste reduction are available at the Environmental Resources Centre in Wan Chai and all public libraries of the Urban Council and Regional Council. People can also use the EPD Recycling Hotline 2755 2750 to obtain further information.

End

Commissioner of 1CAC takes salute at CSD's passing-out parade *****

Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Mr Michael Leung Man-kin, will take the salute at the passing-out parade of the Correctional Services Department tomorrow (Friday) afternoon at the CSD Staff Training Institute.

Graduating are 86 Assistant Officers II who have just completed a 23-week basic training course.

The parade will feature the marching team of the Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution and the marching band of the Cape Collinson Correctional Institution.

End

Post Office recorded delivery service launched *****

The Postmaster General. Mr Robert Footman, officiated at the launching ceremony of the Recorded Delivery service today (Thursday).

Mr Cheung Siu Hung, member of the Post Office Customer Liaison Group, demonstrated the new service.

Mr Footman said: "The Recorded Delivery service provides proof of posting and proof of delivery.

33

“The service is similar to our registered letter service, but provides no compensation in the event of loss or damage.

"At $11, compared with $13 for registered mail, it is an economical way to send important documents with little monetary value, which require proof of posting or delivery.

’’The Post Office mission is to anticipate and meet changing needs, and to achieve high level of customer satisfaction." said Mr Footman.

’’The introduction of Recorded Delivery service to the public is part of our continuous effort to upgrade our services and to satisfy customer needs."

The new service is available from March 7 for local letters and printed papers.

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL.: 2842 8777

Friday, March 7,1997

Contents Eage No.

Transcript of remarks by Financial Secretary............................... 1

Bill to localise JP system endorsed........................................ 2

Volume and price statistics of external trade in Dec 96.................... 3

Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund............................................. 9

Good preparation needed for future careers................................ 10

HK 18 district tourism guides published............................... 11

Plenum for Green Managers on environmental issues......................... 12

New flyover to improve traffic flow in Tsuen Wan.......................... 13

Stormwater Drainage Master Plan Study commissioned........................ 14

Road works in Sha Tin proposed............................................ 15

1

Transcript of remarks by Financial Secretary *****

Following is the remarks made by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, at a media session after attending a lunch of the International Monetary Fund/Hong Kong Monetary Authority’ Conference on Financial Integration in Asia and the role of Hong Kong this aftemoon(Friday):

Financial Secretary: Well, do you want me to say something in English. I just want to echo the points made by my colleague, my very competent colleague, Mr K C Kwong, I have also read the newspaper reports on the public reaction, particularly, the reactions of our Legislative Council to our proposals of spending next year. We must remember that we are now proposing a public expenditure programme nearly as much as $250 billion dollars and even government expenditure alone would be in excess of $200 billion dollars. Mr Kwong had very carefully explained that we are now spending to the heel, the five per cent growth that we have allowed ourselves in accordance with our economic underlined growth rate, so in other words, in formulating our expenditure programme we had not been overly influence, we had not been affected by whatever they called political pressure of other kind. We had been planning as we had been planning to spend all these years. There are some positive comments on the expenditure programme, I am very grateful for that. There are also some concern about the level of spending on social welfare, in particular. Let me say these, over the last five years social welfare spending has increased 86 per cent in real terms and this is no small sum, in the coming year we are proposing to spend over nine per cent in real term together with inflation adjustment it will be near the 15 per cent growth in spending on welfare generally. And within the whole government expenditure programme, welfare spending now exceeds 10 pre cent, so in planning our expenditure programme, we have to ask ourselves, what sort of resources we should devote in this particular area of our social programme. We of course attach great importance looking after our elderly, and for elderly provisions, there had been some generous provision last year. But I am not saying that will be enough. But I do believe our elderly need affection and care, not only in terms of dollar but in terms of direct services. So for this reason this year we had concentrated in providing direct services to our elderly. My colleague, Mrs Fok will give details on these to you when she issue and explain what provisions had we proposed for elderly in the coming year. So the important thing for us to consider as a community, in considering the Budget is the total resources we had given to welfare generally and what sort of balance we should strike between our social welfare programme and our programmes of education, for law and order and for housing, for other programme as well. So and I'll have other things to say I'll say a bit more later on after the Budget Speech in the context of our revenue proposal as well. Thank you very much indeed.

End

2

Bill to localise JP system endorsed ♦ * * * *

The Executive Council has endorsed the Justices of the Peace (JPs) Bill which seeks to provide a local statutory basis for the appointment of JPs and to update their powers and functions.

At present, JPs are appointed by the Governor under Article XIV of the Letters Patent as a form of recognition of an individual's standing in the community. The system has proven over time to be one of the most effective ways of promoting community service by individuals.

"We propose to enact a local JP Ordinance to enable the system to continue after June 30," a Government spokesman said today (Friday).

The Bill provides for the appointment of JPs by the Governor. It also sets out the conditions under which the Governor may revoke the appointment of any JP and transitional arrangements for existing JPs.

The Bill further seeks to remove the obsolete judicial/quasi-judicial functions of JPs, and to transfer to Commissioners for Oaths the power of JPs to administer oaths and declarations.

"Over the years JPs have accumulated a wide range of judicial/quasi-judicial functions under various local ordinances which are no longer exercised by lay JPs with the development of a professional judiciary.

"The Bill sets out the current duties of JPs, such as to pay visits to prisons, detention centres and other institutions and also provides that they shall perform other functions as directed by the Governor," the spokesman said.

The Justices of the Peace Bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council on March 19.

End

3

Volume and price statistics of external trade in Dec 96 *****

In December 1996, the volume of re-exports increased by 5.1% over a year earlier, while that of domestic exports decreased by 10%. Taken together, the volume of total exports increased by 2.4%. Concurrently, the volume of imports increased by 5.2%.

The Census and Statistics Department today (Friday) released detailed volume and price statistics of external trade for December and the whole year of 1996.

Comparing 1996 with 1995, the volume of Hong Kong's re-exports increased by 7.5%, while the volume of domestic exports decreased by 8.4%. Taking together, the volume of total exports increased by 4.8%. Meanwhile, imports increased by 4.3% in volume.

The growth in volume of trade is derived from the growth in trade value with the effect of price changes discounted.

Comparing December 1996 with December 1995, the prices of re-exports decreased by 0.7%, while that of domestic exports increased by 0.3%. Import prices on the other hand decreased by 1.7%.

As regards price changes in 1996 over 1995, the prices of re-exports decreased by 0.5%, while that of domestic exports increased by 0.3%. Import prices on the other hand decreased by 1.3%.

Price changes are reflected by changes in unit value indices which are compiled based on average unit values or, for certain commodities, based on specific price data.

The terms of trade index, defined as the ratio of total export price index to import price index, recorded an increase of 1.0% in 1996 over 1995.

The changes in the value, unit value and volume of re-exports by end-use category are shown in Table 1.

Analysed by end-use category, increases in re-export volume in December 1996 over a year earlier were recorded for fuels (+45%); capital goods (+24%); and consumer goods (+0.1%).

On the other hand, the volume of re-exports of foodstuffs; and raw materials and semi-manufactures decreased by 1.4% and 1.0% respectively.

4

Over the same period of comparison, increases were recorded in the prices of re-exports of fuels (+36%); foodstuffs (+0.1%); and consumer goods (+0.1%).

On the other hand, re-export prices of raw materials and semi-manufactures; and capital goods decreased by 2.7% and 1.5% respectively.

The changes in the value, unit value and volume of domestic exports by principal commodity group are shown in Table 2.

Comparing December 1996 with December 1995, decreases in domestic export volume were recorded for all of the principal commodity groups, except that of domestic electrical appliances which recorded an increase of 1.5%. The volume of domestic exports of radios of all kinds; footwear; travel goods, handbags and similar articles; and metal ores and scrap showed particularly significant decreases, by 64%, 43%, 34% and 33% respectively.

Commodity groups which recorded more notable increases in domestic export prices included textile yam and thread (+7.9%); and metal ores and scrap (+7.8%).

On the other hand, domestic export prices of electronic components decreased significantly, by 4.2%.

The changes in the value, unit value and volume of imports by end-use category are shown in Table 3.

The import volume of foodstuffs increased by 12% in December 1996 compared with December 1995.

Significant increases in import volume were noted of sugar; and soya bean oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil and lard. However, notable decreases were recorded in the import volume of animals of the bovine species, live.

Over the same period of comparison, the import volume of consumer goods decreased by 1.2%.

Notable decreases in import volume were noted of alcoholic beverages; and passenger motor cars. However, significant increases in import volume were recorded for cameras, flashlight apparatus and supplies for photography.

The import volume of raw materials and semi-manufactures increased by 4.0% in December 1996 compared with December 1995.

5

Rapid increases in import volume were noted of lime, cement and fabricated building materials except glass, clay construction materials and refractory construction materials; and wood, lumber and cork. However, significant decreases were noted of raw cotton; and silk fabrics.

Imports of fuels increased by 50% in volume in December 1996 compared with December 1995.

As regards capital goods, the volume of imports increased by 13% in December 1996 over December 1995.

Notable increases were recorded in the import volume of textile machinery; and industrial machinery, other than electrical machinery and textile machinery. The import volume of construction machinery; and transport equipment however decreased.

Comparing December 1996 with December 1995, import prices of fuels and consumer goods increased by 23% and 1.3% respectively.

On the other hand, import prices of raw materials and semi-manufactures; capital goods; and foodstuffs decreased by 5.3%, 3.2% and 1.0% respectively.

Details of the above statistics are published in the December 1996 issue of the ’’Hong Kong Trade Index Numbers".

The report will be available on sale around 11 March 1997 at HKS14 per copy at either (i) the Government Publications Centre on the Ground Floor, Low Block, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway; or (ii) the Publications Unit of the Census and Statistics Department on the 19th Floor, Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road, Wan Chai.

Enquiries regarding regular subscription to this report may be directed to the Publications (Sales) Office of the Information Services Department at 28/F., Siu On Centre, 188 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong (Tel. No.: 2598 8194) and enquiries on trade indices to the Census and Statistics Department (Tel. No.: 2582 4918).

6

Table 1 : Chancres in re-exports bv__end-use category

Comparing DEC 1996 with DEC 1995

Comparing JAN-DEC 1996 with JAN-DEC 1995

End-use category % changes % changes

Value Unit Value Volume Value Unit Value Volume

Foodstuffs -1.3 0.1 -1.4 14.5 0.1 14.6

Consumer goods 0.2 0.1 0.1 4.9 0.5 3.8

Raw materials and semi-manufactures -4.3 -2.7 -1.0 3.6 -2.2 6.0

Fuels 95.9 36.0 44.9 30.4 20.1 10.3

Capital goods 19.9 -1.5 24.3 14.3 -1.4 18.5

ALL COMMODITIES 3.5 -0.7 5.1 6.6 -0.5 7.5

7

Table 2 : □xaag.es. In domestic exports by .principal commodity group

Comparing DEC 1996 with DEC 1995 Comparing JAN-DEC 1996 with JAN-DEC 1995 % changes

Commodity group % changes

Value Unit Value Volume Value Unit Value Volume

Clothing -4.5 0.9 -4.8 -5.9 0.6 -6.2

Textile fabrics -3.8 3.3 -6.0 -3.1 -3.8

Textile yarn and thread -8.0 7.9 -14.3 20.3 5.1 15.6

Textile made-ups and related articles -31.1 4.6 -32.9 -36.9 2.6 -37.7

Radios of all kinds -64.3 2.7 -63.7 -28.6 5.8 -34.1

Electronic components -28.5 -4.2 -27.4 -14.6 -3.2 -13.6

Footwear -43.2 -3.5 -42.6 -47.2 -3.4 -45.2

Metal manufactures -21.1 -1.0 -20.1 -8.4 4.0 -12.1

Metal ores and scrap -25.3 7.8 -33.0 -10.3 9.1 -17.0

Watches and clocks -16.3 2.1 -17.9 -12.0 0.5 -12.3

Travel goods, handbags and similar articles -34.1 2.7 -34.2 -23.8 1.6 -25.2

Domestic electrical appliances -2.4 -2.3 1.5 22.7 -3.1 28.6

ALL COMMODITIES -9.6 0.3 -10.4 -8.5 0.3 -8.4

* less than 0.05%

8

Table 3 : Changes in imports bv end-use category

Comparing DEC 1996 Comparing JAN-DEC 1996

with DEC 1995 with JAN-DEC 1995

End-use category % changes % changes

Value Unit Value Volume Value Unit Value Volume

Foodstuffs 11.0 -1.0 12.2 6.7 -0.3 6.8

Consumer goods -0.4 1.3 -1.2 1.9 1.5 0.5

Raw materials and semi-manufactures -1.3 -5.3 4.0 -0.4 -4.1 3.7

Fuels 81.3 23.2 50.0 22.4 13.7 7.3

Capital goods 8.7 -3.2 12.9 8.7 -3.3 12.3

ALL COMMODITIES 2.9 -1.7 5.2 3.0 -1.3 4.3

End

9

Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund *****

A bill which seeks to empower the Council of the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund to solicit donations, subscriptions and bequests for the Fund is gazetted today (Friday).

Established in 1987 with initial donations from the community to commemorate Sir Edward Youde, the late Governor, the Fund seeks to encourage education and research among the people of Hong Kong.

At present, the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund Ordinance only provides for the Board of Trustees of the Fund to accept voluntary donations, subscriptions and bequests. It does not empower either the Board or the Council to solicit donations, etc.

"The proposed legislation aims at ensuring adequate funding for the Fund's existing awards and sponsorships, and facilitating any further expansion in the scope of its activities," a Government spokesman said.

"The bill will also enable the Fund to meet from its income all reasonable expenses incurred by the Council in exercise of its new power," he added.

Over the past ten years, the Fund has awarded a total of $53 million in about 6,400 scholarships, fellowships and prizes for outstanding secondary and tertiary students, including 75 awards for disabled students.

The asset value of the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund now stands at about $168 million.

Since 1992, the Fund has also sponsored the Young Friends of Hong Kong Arts Festival to increase secondary students’ exposure to, and appreciation of, performing arts. The Scheme benefits about 25 000 secondary students each year.

Furthermore, the Fund’s Visiting Professorship Scheme invites eminent overseas scholars to Hong Kong each year to promote education and cultural exchange between Hong Kong and overseas countries.

The bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council on March 19.

End

10

Good preparation needed for future careers

*****

Young people should start to develop their career plans while at school, Assistant Commissioner for Labour (Employment Services), Mrs Jennie Chor, said today (Friday) at the prize presentation ceremony of the 15th Careers Quiz.

Advising students on how to choose a suitable career, Mrs Chor said that they should have a deep understanding on their interest, personality, capability, expertise, expectation, qualification, physique and value before setting their own career goals.

"In addition, they should also actively look for information on the latest development on the employment market,” Mrs Chor said.

She urged students to pay attention to the relevant training courses and grasp opportunities to build up working experience to meet the demands of the ever changing employment market.

In order to help students to choose a suitable career, Mrs Chor noted that the Labour Department's Careers Advisory Service (CAS) had been providing a wide range of career services including the annual Careers and Education Expo and school visits to the CAS's Careers Information Centres (CICs) and workplaces.

"Over 370,000 people had participated in CAS's activities last year, breaking all previous records,” she said.

"We have also introduced the Bulletin Board System (BBS) last year to let schools and other users obtain the latest information on careers and details of CAS's activities through computers," she added.

Mrs Chor extended her appreciation to the Pentax camera, Cerruti 1881 sunglasses and Laser Computer Limited in sponsoring the Careers Quiz as well as to the Information Technology Services Department in marking the quiz papers and analysing the results.

In addition to the prize presentation ceremony, the CAS also organised different careers activities today at the CIC in Wan Chai including exhibition, seminars, video shows, sound-on-slide presentations, quiz and demonstration of the BBS.

11

The 15th Careers Quiz, conducted in November last year, was an associated activity of the 7th Education and Careers Expo. It aimed at enhancing the awareness of secondary school students of the importance of choosing suitable careers and encouraged them to actively look for up-to-date information on careers and further educational opportunities.

It has attracted record high participation of 140,847 students from 300 secondary schools.

End

HK 18 district tourism guides published *****

The Home Affairs Department (HAD) has produced a series of 18 brochures on the unique characteristics and favourite tourist spots in each of the 18 administrative districts in Hong Kong to help both tourists and local people explore the various districts' individual characteristics, attractions, changes and developments.

Speaking at a press conference to launch the Eighteen-District Tourism Promotion Project today (Friday), the Director of Home Affairs, Mrs Shelley Lau, said the "Hong Kong Eighteen Districts Tourism Guide" is aimed at enhancing the importance of District Administration while helping promote tourism in Hong Kong.

"We hope that this package will help encourage more tourists to visit Hong Kong and tie in with the efforts of the Secretary for Economic Services and the Hong Kong Tourist Association (HKTA) in promoting the tourism industry.

"The guides will also serve as educational materials for children and all students, enabling them to know more about the history and development of the 18 administrative districts," Mrs Lau said.

Each brochure is produced by the respective district office, with input and suggestions made by the respective district board. Well-illustrated with colourful photographs and maps, the guide provides a detailed record and account of the information relating to the history, antiquities, traditions, major festivals, annual district events and landmarks in the 18 districts in a systematic manner.

A list of telephone numbers and addresses of facilities useful to tourists is also provided.

12

The guides are produced in three versions - English, Chinese written in conventional characters and Chinese in simplified characters.

Mrs Lau also took the opportunity to thank all the District Board chairmen and HKTA for their contributions and support for the project.

The guides will be available for distribution to members of the public free of charge later at all district offices and HKTA's various channels.

Also present at the press conference were the Secretary' for Economic Services, Mr Stephen Ip; the Deputy Director of Home Affairs, Mr Lui Hau-tuen; the General Manager (Marketing Communications) of Hong Kong Tourist Association, Mrs Lily Shum; District Board chairmen, District Board members and District Officers.

End

Plenum for Green Managers on environmental issues *****

A Plenum was held today (Friday) for Green Managers and Energy Managers from various Government departments to broaden their knowledge on the environmental issues the community is facing.

Organised by the Planning, Environment and Lands Branch, the Plenum offered an opportunity for the participants to share their experiences on environmental auditing and environmental management systems.

They were also briefed on Government’s strategy to tackle the problems within the civil service as well as those faced by the community.

Speaking at the opening of the Plenum, Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Mr Benjamin Tang, said concern for the environment was firmly entrenched. Hong Kong should perform to the standards required of the first world, in keeping with its economic and social status, Mr Tang said.

He said the Hong Kong Government should take pro-active steps at every opportunity and set an example for the community to follow.

He urged participating Managers to collectively be involved in deciding how everyone, as a government and as a community, should proceed.

13

The Green Manager Scheme was established within the Government in January 1994 to set a good green example for the private sector. Under the scheme, a Green Manager was appointed in each branch/department to help ensure that environmental considerations were taken into account during the formulation of policies and implementation of programmes.

Early initiatives focused on green housekeeping issues such as reduction in energy and resources consumption, and reuse and recycling of material.

To enlarge the scope of the scheme, it was subsequently extended to cover environmental auditing and environmental management system.

To share outside experience, speakers from the Centre of Environmental Technology, the Hong Kong Productivity Council and the Cathay Pacific Airlines were also invited to take part in the Plenum.

Over 110 managers from 65 branches and departments attended the full day session held at the New Annex of Central Government Office.

End

New flyover to improve traffic flow in Tsuen Wan ♦ * * ♦ ♦

A flyover will be built across Castle Peak Road at Sha Tsui Road in Tsuen Wan as part of a continuing programme by the Territory Development Department (TDD) for the development of the new town.

’’The flyover, together with a footbridge underneath, will improve traffic condition at the junction of Tsuen King Circuit and Castle Peak Road," a spokesman for the department said today (Friday).

"The flyover will also serve as an alternative access from Tsuen King Circuit to Tsuen Wan town centre, which is particularly useful in times of emergency," he said.

To reduce noise impacts to nearby residents, noise barriers and road covers will be built at the flyover.

"The flyover will measure 300 metres long and 13.5 metres wide. Underneath the flyover is a footbridge measuring about 55 metres by 4.7 metres with a 50-metre long ramp on one side and a 65-metre long ramp and staircase on the other side," said the spokesman.

14

Retaining walls and associated road and drainage works will also be included in the project.

Construction will start in June for completion in 30 months.

The spokesman added that apart from this flyover project, the department had started works on four improvement projects in Tsuen Wan.

"These include improvement works to Lo Wai Village and San Tsuen, as well as to San Tsuen Road and an existing footbridge near Chung On Street," he said.

End

Stormwater Drainage Master Plan Study commissioned

*****

The Drainage Services Department has commissioned a Stormwater Drainage Master Plan Study for Tuen Mun and Sham Tseng to reduce flooding.

A $7.38-million agreement was signed today (Friday) by the Assistant Director of Drainage Services/Operations and Maintenance Branch, Mr Raymond Cheung, and a representative of Binnie Consultants Limited.

Speaking after signing the agreement, Mr Cheung said the study would examine the existing drainage system and recommend short and long-term improvement measures to reduce flooding.

’’Some of the drains, which were built some 30 years ago, were under capacity and fell short of the current flood protection standard.

"The study will also develop a computerised asset management system to facilitate future planning, management and operation of the drainage system,” Mr Cheung said.

The 18-month study is the fourth of the seven drainage master plan studies initiated by the department.

The other three studies for north-west New Territories, north Hong Kong Island, and Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing districts started respectively in January, May and September last year.

End

15

Road works in Sha Tin proposed *****

The Govemor-in-Council has approved the construction of a new road linking Tung Lo Wan Hill Road and Mei Tin Road in Sha Tin.

The road, to be built by a private developer, is to provide access for a private residential development in Tung Lo Wan.

The developer will be required to build a three-metre high noise barrier along the section of the road close to Mei Wai House in Mei Lam Estate. The noise barrier will be about 68.5 metres in length.

Works are scheduled to start in July for completion in two years.

A notice on the proposed works is published in the Government Gazette today (Friday).

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Saturday, March 8, 1997

Contents Page No,

Post Office to host 1997 Asia Pacific Post Workshop............. 1

Public urged to plant trees under popular scheme................ 1

Sunday, March 9, 1997

Contents EageJNo,

Commonwealth Day Message 1997 from Her Majesty the Queen, Head of the Commonwealth.................................................... 3

Hong Kong working days lost among the lowest in the world....... 4

Travellers reminded to avoid Easter holiday rush..................... 5

St John’s Cathedral postmark to be introduced................... 6

Post Office to host 1997 Asia Pacific Post Workshop ♦ ♦ ♦ * *

The Postmaster General, Mr Robert Footman, announced today (Saturday) that the Hong Kong Post Office has been given the honour of hosting the 1997 Asia Pacific Post Workshop from March 10 to 12 at the Regal Kowloon Hotel.

The objective of the workshop entitled "Today, Tomorrow, The Future" is to review the opportunities and threats facing the postal administrations in the Asian-Pacific region and to draw up a regional Business Plan for the Post on short and long term basis for the next decade.

A total of 26 delegates from 15 postal administrations including Hong Kong will be attending the workshop.

The organiser, Asia Pacific Post, is a business and information office set up in Singapore in 1995 under the auspices of the Asian-Pacific Postal Union to serve the commercial, operational and technical needs of the Asia-Pacific postal administrations. This is the third workshop of its kind. The last two Workshops in 1995 and 1996 were held in Indonesia and Australia respectively.

"The workshop will serve to draw the postal administrations in the Asian-Pacific region closer together for cooperation in meeting the changing needs of our customers in the region. It will also strengthen our ties and enhance our working relations with the participating administrations." said Mr Footman.

End

Public urged to plant trees under popular scheme

* * * ♦ *

Members of the public are urged to take part in the annual popular Community Tree Planting Scheme in the coming weeks.

The appeal was made by the Acting Director of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Richard Yip Shui-ming, at the launching ceremony of this year's scheme at Kei Ling Ha, Ma On Shan Country Park this (Saturday) morning.

Starting tomorrow, four tree-planting sites will be opened to the public on Sundays and public holidays until the end of April. The sites are located at country parks in Ma On Shan, Quarry Bay, Hok Tau and Nam Shan (Lantau South).

2

Seedlings, planting tools and technical assistance will be provided for participants at the planting sites.

Planting activities can also be pre-arranged for schools and organisations at selected sites. Interested groups can contact the Agriculture and Fisheries Department's (AFD) Education Section on 2733 2121.

Mr Yip said that the main objective of the Community Tree Planting Scheme, now in its 40th year, was to encourage local residents' active participation in the greening of the territory.

He pointed out the scheme was a continuation of a territory-wide tree planting programme started in the early 1950s which had gradually turned eroded hillsides into woodlands.

"Since the 1980s, some 300,000 trees had been planted in country parks under the scheme each year, including many local species. These trees had enriched the territory's natural habitat and bio-diversity," he added.

He reiterated that the success of the scheme owed much to the public participation and support of many community organisations including the local Lions Clubs.

Also speaking at today's ceremony. Chairman of the Country and Marine Parks Board, Professor Jim Chi-yung said that the scheme, attracting more than 20,000 participants each year, would help enhance local residents' awareness on protecting trees and nature conservation.

"Trees can prevent soil erosion, conserve water resources, provide natural habitat for wildlife and enhance bio-diversity of our countryside."

The opportunity of physically planting trees by the public is an effective means to promote the message of countryside conservation. Dr Jim said.

Also present at the ceremony were the I ions Clubs District Governor. Mr So Chun-yu; Chairman of Country and Marine Parks Board's Public Relations committee. Mr Victor Hui; Chairman of the Board's Country Parks Committee, Dr Tam Wing-kun and Chairman of the Sai Kung District Board, Mr Ng Szc-fuk.

End

- 3 -

Commonwealth Day Message 1997 from Her Majesty the Queen, Head of the Commonwealth

*****

The Commonwealth Day theme this year is "Talking to One Another". It is a fitting choice, because 1997 is a year when more people than ever before in the Commonwealth will have the opportunity to communicate with each other.

Modern travel has made it easy to meet and talk face-to-face. Many from throughout the Commonwealth will take advantage of this in 1997 for sports tours, youth exchanges, science conventions, and other gatherings. Here in Britain, for instance, the city of Edinburgh will be host to the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting later this year. At the same time. Commonwealth nongovernmental organisations will be meeting there. So Commonwealth people will be getting together at all levels to exchange ideas.

But improved and easier travel is only one development. Recent advances in communications technology now enable us to talk to each other and to see each other without even needing to leave home. The Commonwealth uses this sort of technology for its distance education programme, especially through the Commonwealth of Learning based in Vancouver. Through communications like these, the barriers of distance can be removed and we can talk together, almost as if the whole Commonwealth was in one room. Many years ago. my grandfather first spoke to the Commonwealth by radio. Today my message is speeding its way around the world by radio and, for the first time, on the Internet.

Of course, having more ways of communicating and faster ways of doing so does not necessarily mean that we understand each other better. Technical advances do not automatically bring improvements. "Talking to One Another" is not a one-way process: we can explain our own points of view but we should also listen to the views of others. Commonwealth countries have an advantage in doing this because we have shared views of right and wrong, and because we use the common language of English. This makes it all the easier to listen, to exchange knowledge, and to share opinions and feelings with others whose daily lives may be very different from our own.

When we talk to one another, we can meet together in one place or we can use technology to hold discussions across the world. Whichever way we choose to communicate, the important point is that we keep talking and keep listening. By doing so, we ensure that the Commonwealth continues to grow as an informed and open-minded community of nations.

End

4

Hong Kong working days lost among the lowest in the world * * * * *

The small number of working days lost in the local labour market is among the lowest in the world - thanks to the hard work by staff of the Labour Relations Division (LRD) of the Labour Department.

Chief Labour Officer of the Labour Department, Mrs Jennie Chan, said today (Sunday): ’’The labour relations scene in 1996 was harmonious and stable. In 1996, the number of working days lost due to labour disputes was 0.99 per 1,000 wage earners and salaried employees which is among the lowest in the world."

She said the LRD provided free consultation service and voluntary conciliation service to employers and employees.

"The conciliation officers act as a neutral intermediary to help employers and employees understand their problems and assist them to reach mutually acceptable settlements.

"During the year, LRD handled 117,719 consultations and conciliated in 226 labour disputes as well as 22,840 employment claims. The average settlement rate was 65 per cent and the LRD has assisted employees in receiving a total amount of $247 million.

"Among the 226 trade disputes, 112 were cases involving cessation of business and insolvency, representing about 50 per cent of the total number of disputes handled by the Division," she said.

Turning to promotional activities, Mrs Chan said that the LRD also organised promotional activities at district level, like Personnel Managers’ Clubs, seminars on Human Resources Management and Certificate Courses on the Employment Ordinance, etc.

She said officers from the LRD also maintained close contacts with human resources practitioners and introduced to them the latest amendments to labour legislation and enlightened management practices.

"Additionally, the Division will strengthen its liaison with trade unions. It plans to build up an electronic data bank on trade union officials with their names and contact telephones and addresses.

"This will facilitate quick contacts when major labour disputes break out suddenly and this will enhance the chances of early settlement of such disputes,” she said.

End

- 5 -

Travellers reminded to avoid Easter holiday rush * * * * *

The Immigration Department today (Sunday) reminded members of the public that they should apply for travel documents as early as possible if they intend to travel abroad during the Easter holidays.

"The number of people travelling outside Hong Kong will be greatly increased during this time of the year. In order to avoid last minute rush, people are advised to apply for British National (Overseas) passports and Hong Kong certificates of identity well in advance of the date on which they intend to travel," a spokesperson for the department said.

The spokesperson reminded applicants that with effect from April 1, 1997, the British Trade Commission would take over from Hong Kong Immigration Department the responsibility for issuing and renewing British National (Overseas) passports. The Immigration Department will cease taking applications for British National (Overseas) passport from April 1, 1997.

Other than applications for travel documents, applications for identity cards and other Registration of Persons services arc also on high demand during this time of the year.

To avoid congestion, applicants are also requested to submit their applications before school/public holidays. Furthermore, applicants are encouraged to make use of the Automated Telephone Appointment Booking System which is operating 24 hours a day. The number is 2598 0888.

Information leaflets on application procedures and documents required are issued together with application forms which are available at the Immigration Headquarters and all Immigration Offices. For enquiry, members of the public may telephone 2824 6111 or use faxline 2877 7711.

End

- 6 -

St John’s Cathedral postmark to be introduced *****

The Postmaster General, Mr Robert Footman, announced today (Sunday) that a special postmark will be introduced on March 11, 1997 to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of St John's Cathedral.

The Cathedral Church of St John the Evangelist stands today as a testament to the dedication and determination of the early residents and its leaders.

To mark the 150th Anniversary of the laying of the Foundation Stone, a programme of events is planned in and around the Cathedral, including the introduction of the postmark, during the week from March 9 to 16.

The Post Office will not issue any philatelic product on this occasion, but the special postmark will be made available for hand-back service on March 11 at the following 19 philatelic offices for any privately-made covers bearing an indication of the event:-

Airport Post Office

Aberdeen Post Office

Cheung Chau Post Office

Cheung Sha Wan Post Office

General Post Office

Granville Road Post Office

Harcourt Road Post Office

Hennessy Road Post Office

Kowloon City Post Office

Kowloon Central Post Office

Mong Kok Post Office

Peak Post Office

Sha Tin Central Post Office

Shau Kei Wan Post Office

Tai Po Post Office

Tsim Sha Tsui Post Office

Tsuen Wan Post Office

Tuen Mun Central Post Office

Yuen Long Post Office

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Monday, March 10,1997

Contents Page No.

Governor's statement on schoolbook revision....................... 1

Human Rights Watch’s allegations groundless....................... 1

Health advice as O157:H7 found in food sample..................... 3

$45 billion allocated to improve health and welfare services...... 5

CSD apologises for gas incident at Tin Shui Wai................... 7

Disabled prisoners well looked after by CSD....................... 8

Application for BN(O) Passports................................... 9

Outlying Islands Transfer Facilities contract awarded............ 10

Weather of February 1997 ...................................... 11

Fire safety seminar invites participation........................ 14

1996 Population By-census Graphic Guide on sale.................. 14

Chinatrust Commercial Bank granted restricted banking licence.... 15

Tender for 11th issue of 5-year Exchange Fund notes.............. 15

Water storage figure........................................... 17

Fresh water supply to Tsim Sha Tsui affected..................... 17

Flushing water cut in Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung................... 17

1

Governor's statement on schoolbook revision *****

In response to enquiries about reported remarks by the Chinese Foreign Minister, Mr Qian Qichen, about revising Hong Kong schoolbooks that do not conform with China's principles, the Governor, the Rt Hon Christopher Patten, said:

"Naturally school children will need to be taught after 1997 about their new sovereign power, about the Joint Declaration, the Basic Law and One Country, Two Systems. This has already begun.

"But if Mr Qian is suggesting more than this, his statement raises some disturbing questions.

"The Joint Declaration and the Basic Law guarantee HK's autonomy in educational matters after 1997. They are clear that educational policies are to be set by the HKSARG, and not to be vetted for political correctness by Chinese officials. The Joint Declaration and the Basic Law certainly say nothing about rewriting history books - and nor do any other agreements between Britain and China.

"In a free society, teachers are not told what facts they can teach and what facts it is politically wrong for them to teach. This is a time when responsible spokesmen should be saying things which increase confidence in the future, not raise questions about it. But since Mr Qian has made these remarks, perhaps he could be clear what he has in mind."

End

Human Rights Watch's allegations groundless

*****

In response to a report released by Human Rights Watch/Asia yesterday (Sunday), a Government spokesman said today (Monday) that the allegations made were totally groundless.

"Hong Kong has studiously followed the internationally agreed Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA) in dealing with the problem of Vietnamese refugees (VRs) and Vietnamese migrants (VMs)," the spokesman said.

"Hong Kong has maintained a policy of first asylum, screening Vietnamese asylum seekers on arrival to determine their status, resettling those found to be refugees, and returning those found not to be refugees home to Vietnam in accordance with the provisions of the CPA.

2

"Our screening of VMs are in accordance with UNHCR guidelines on procedures and criteria for determining refugee status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the status of refugees." he said.

The spokesman said the screening system also provided for an appeal mechanism, and the possibility of a UNHCR mandate should an asylum seeker fail on both initial screening and appeal.

"Those who are aggrieved at screening decisions may also seek judicial review in the courts," he said.

The spokesman said that the allegation that both the Hong Kong Government and the UNHCR, in their attempt to repatriate the screened-out VMs to Vietnam, had made conditions in the camps increasingly intolerable was totally unsubstantiated.

"While the detention camps in Hong Kong are not luxurious they are not inhumane. The conditions there are regularly monitored by the UNHCR, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and Justices of the Peace," he said.

"Indeed, with the significant fall in the VM population in detention camps over the past year or so, the general conditions of the camps have improved rather than deteriorated.

"Suggestions of the existence of’gang lords', or that the 'gang lords' are used by camp management to control the camps, arc totally unsubstantiated. The Government will under no circumstances tolerate such situations in detention camps," the spokesman remarked.

"If there is any evidence of the existence of such 'gang lords', this should be brought immediately to the attention of the Correctional Services Department for a thorough investigation," he said.

The spokesman said that accusations of hunger and starvation in detention camps were simply ridiculous.

"All diets adopted in VM camps have been approved by the dietician in accordance with international health standards. Special diets arc available to cater for the special needs of certain VMs, for example, pregnant women, elderlies, babies and patients.

’’The food distribution system is also closely monitored by the camp management."

3

As regards education for Vietnamese children, the spokesman said that preschool and primary education for VMs and VRs are provided by NGOs working under the auspices of UNHCR.

"The Hong Kong Government has since September 1996 also undertaken to fund secondary education in the camps. An NGO has been commissioned to coordinate the provision of the service.

"Secondary level classes arc offered to students. The Government provides accommodation, furniture, stationery, textbooks and sports equipment for students," he said.

The spokesman said that at present, there remained about 2,500 VMs awaiting clearance by Vietnam.

"It is incorrect to say that Vietnam has rejected them for return. We shall continue to urge the Vietnamese Government to expedite the clearance process so that these people could return home to Vietnam early.

"As regards VRs, we will continue our efforts, through the British Government and the UNHCR, to seek to persuade the international community to resettle the remaining VRs in Hong Kong", the spokesman said.

End

Health advice as O157:H7 found in food sample *****

The Department of Health (DI I) called upon the public to cook food thoroughly before consumption to avoid food-borne diseases.

The appeal was made following the recent detection of E.coli O157:H7 bacteria in a raw minced beef sample collected from a retail outlet by the Department of Health in its food surveillance programme.

A spokesman for DH said O157.H7 is a strain of E.coli that is commonly found in intestines of animals and can be associated with undercooked minced beef. Cross contamination of other food can also take place as a result of poor food-handling.

"However, the O157:H7 strain can be killed at a cooking temperature of around 75 degree Celsius for two to three minutes,” the spokesman stressed.

4

"Public are strongly advised to cook food thoroughly before consumption."

The spokesman noted that this was the first time E.coli O157:H7 strain was detected in food sample since the Department incorporated the test into the food surveillance programme in 1994.

Further investigation found that the beef came from a cattle slaughtered in a local abattoir. It was believed that the contamination was an isolated incident.

Nonetheless, the Department had taken a number of measures to prevent cross contamination.

"Upon advice, both the retailer and wholesaler of the beef have agreed to voluntarily surrender the related products and conduct a thorough disinfection and cleansing at their premises before sales resume," the spokesman said.

"Their staff have also been asked to observe strict personal and food hygiene in handling meat products.

"The Department of Health will increase sampling of food items under its food surveillance programme for O157:H7.

"The two municipal services departments will make extra efforts to ensure proper hygiene standards to be adopted in the slaughtering process."

The spokesman added that DH and the two municipal services departments had all along been delivering health education on food hygiene and personal hygiene as well as on how to prevent O157:H7 infection to the public and food-handlers. These efforts will continue.

"The opportunity is also taken to remind the public to cook food thoroughly to prevent food borne disease," he said.

"Cooked and raw food items should be handled separately."

"Hands should be washed before handling food to prevent contamination by gastro-intestinal bacteria."

Public are welcome to use the Department's interactive voice and response system on "Hygiene Information For You", lei No 2380 2580. for more information and preventive measures on food-borne diseases including E.coli O157:H7.

End

5

$45 billion allocated to improve health and welfare services *****

The Government plans to spend $25.8 billion on health and $19.5 billion on welfare in recurrent expenditure in 1997/98, an increase in real terms of 6.5 per cent and 9.4 per cent respectively compared with 1996/97.

This was stated by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mrs Katherine Fok, at a press conference outlining the expenditure in her policy area in the coming financial year today (Monday).

On welfare, Mrs Fok said the Government would spend some $12 billion, covering health, welfare and social security services, to improve the quality of life for the aged population.

As part of its programme to expand existing services, the Government will provide about 1,600 more residential places for the elderly, five nursing homes, and an additional 30 elderly centres. These will bring the total number of residential places for the elderly to 17,000, nursing home places to 1,200, and elderly centres to 335.

On the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme, Mrs Fok expected that the expenditure in this area in 1997/98 would increase by 11 per cent to $7.8 billion, as compared with $7 billion in 1996/97. Spending on Social Security Allowance Scheme is also expected to increased by 2.9 per cent, from $4,033 million in 1996/97 to $4,150 million in 1997/98.

To meet the community demands and to enable elderly CSSA recipients who wish to take up permanent residence in Guangdong Province to continue to receive payments there, the Government will implement the Portable Comprehensive Social Security Assistance for Elderly Persons Retiring to Guangdong Province (China) from April this year.

"The Scheme is a new arrangement aimed at meeting present needs," Mrs Fok said. "We will do our best to publicise the Scheme and provide prospective applicants with the relevant information to help them make the choice that best suits their needs," she added.

For people with a disability, the Government is set to spend nearly $1.6 billion of recurrent expenditure in 1997/98 on direct welfare services which represents an increase of 21 per cent over this year.

6

Additional services to be provided include 240 places in pre-school centres and 24 residential places for children with a disability; and 1,640 residential places and 1,150 day service places for adults with a disability. The Government will subvent two new types of rehabilitation services - Community Rehabilitation Network centres for chronically ill persons and their carers, and domiciliary occupational therapy service to clients awaiting institutional services or being discharged from institutions.

In addition, with the opening of the Pokfulam Skills Centre in September this year, 233 full-time training places and 150 boarding places will be available to all categories of people with a disability.

Another $1.6 billion will also be spent on improving family and child welfare services. These will include the provision of 3,511 places in child care centres; recruitment of overseas experts to strengthen specialised training for social workers, clinical psychologists and police officers in handling child abuse cases; and the implementation of a witness support programme to reduce the trauma of children serving as witnesses in child abuse cases.

Turning to health, the Secretary noted that of the $25.8 billion allocated, $2,131 million would go to the Department of Health and $22 billion to the Hospital Authority, an increase of 12.3 per cent and 6.4 per cent respectively compared with 1996/97.

She said that to cope with the community development and population in Tung Chung, the Department of Health planned to open a clinic there in 1997/98 and had allocated $10.8 million for its recurrent expenditure.

The Student Health Service, established in 1995 and proved to be very popular, will receive $7.63 million to cater for the higher than expected demand.

In addition, the District Health System aimed to promote health education and disease prevention through mobilisation of community resources and collaboration with other service providers at the local level, will be expanded to cover Hong Kong Island as well.

As regards the Hospital Authority, Mrs Eok said three new hospitals - the Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital at Tai Po, the North District Hospital and the Tai Po Infirmary/Convalescent Hospital - would start operation in 1997/98.

"The phased commissioning of these hospitals will help meet the demand arising from the population growth in the New Territories.” she said. ’’Together with additional facilities to be opened in existing hospitals, we will be able to provide a total of 669 new hospital beds in 1997/98.”

7

The Hospital Authority has also earmarked another $2,060 million for a few major capital projects, including the redevelopment of the Kowloon Hospital , the relocation of the Tuen Mun Polyclinic, the construction of a public health laboratory centre, and the improvement works in eight public hospitals.

"All these capital works will improve our infrastructural facilities for the provision of quality care services,” the Secretary added.

End

CSD apologises for gas incident at Tin Shui Wai ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The Commissioner of Correctional Services, Mr Raymond Lai Ming-kee, today (Monday) offered his sincere apology to all who were affected by the gas incident at Tin Shui Wai on February 26, following analysis results by the Environmental Protection Department which indicate that the ’’odd smell" reported that day was linked to CS gas being fired within the Pak Nai firing range.

The Commissioner said as a Government department, the Correctional Services Department should be accountable for its actions in incidents that directly or indirectly affect the public.

Mr Lai has personally written to the eight schools whose pupils were affected by the gas, expressing deep regret for the incident.

The Commissioner also pointed out that although the Police Force shared the firing range, it was within the time frame of the CSD exercise that inadvertently caused the incident.

"We will actively review existing range procedures to avoid the recurrence of similar incidents in the future.

"Residents nearby can rest assured that all precautionary measures will be taken before the next exercise takes place," said Mr Lai.

"It is most unfortunate that this incident has caused distress and discomfort to members of the public, particularly the pupils of the schools.

8

"The Department had no wish to create such a situation, unfortunately, as it is now known, the wind changed direction during the course of our exercise.

"We regret the anguish and distress inadvertently caused as a result of our action at the firing range." said the Commissioner.

End

Disabled prisoners well looked after by CSD *****

The following statement has been issued by the Correctional Services Department in response to numerous press queries on the sentencing today (Monday) of Yip Kai-foon:-

Whilst the media may look upon Yip Kai-foon as an infamous celebrity, the Correctional Services Department regards him, after having been sentenced by the court, to be just another prisoner who will be treated accordingly.

The only difference is that Yip, being crippled and wheel-chair bound, will not be able to function as a normal prisoner, but that is not to say he will be given privileges that a normal prisoner would not be entitled to.

Unless excused on medical grounds, Yip will be obligated, like all healthy prisoners, to work although the type of job he may be required to do will not involve physical mobility.

As to persistent queries on which institution Yip would be placed, it is not our policy to divulge details of the whereabouts of prisoners, and it is especially important to note that Yip is a high risk prisoner who has escaped from our custody in the past.

As for services and facilities to care for disabled prisoners, in all our institutions, we have trained nurses to look after prisoners with special needs. We do have specific programmes and facilities designed for disabled inmates in our institutions, particularly at Stanley Prison and Pik Uk Correctional Institution. We also have qualified doctors who ensure that all prisoners receive proper and adequate medical treatment as and when the need arise.

From time to time we seek professional medical advice on specific facilities and if need be, we will provide special equipment on advice of the experts, and our programmes for disabled prisoners arc reviewed to consider all aspects in the provision of services and facilities to disabled prisoners, such as occupational therapy, psychological counselling and vocational exercises.

End

9

Application for BN(O) Passports *****

With effect from April 1, 1997 (Tuesday), the British Trade Commission will take over from Hong Kong Immigration Department responsibility for issuing and renewing:

BRITISH NATIONAL (OVERSEAS) PASSPORTS.

All applications and enquiries on or after April 1, 1997 (Tuesday) should be made at:

THE BRITISH TRADE COMMISSION PASSPORT SECTION

4th FLOOR, 1 SUPREME COURT ROAD HONG KONG.

Tel: 2901 3222

Fax: 2901 3195

Opening Hours: 0845 - 1500 (Monday to Friday)

Hong Kong Immigration Department will cease taking the above applications from April 1, 1997 (Tuesday). The Immigration Department, however, will continue to issue BN(O) passports which have been prepared until April 26, 1997 (Saturday). Thereafter, all uncollected passports will be passed to the British Trade Commission.

But Hong Kong permanent identity cards prepared for children under 11 years of age in connection with their BN(O) passports will continue to be issued at the original immigration offices.

For their convenience, applicants are reminded to pick up their passports in time at the immigration offices which have been chosen by them upon application. They will be required to collect their passports at the British Trade Commission if they do not do so before the transfer of the uncollected passports. For BN(O) passports issued to children under 11 years of age, applicants will also be required to collect their children's Hong Kong permanent identity cards at the original immigration offices after they have collected their passports.

End

10

Outlying Islands Transfer Facilities contract awarded *****

The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) today (Monday) signed a contract for the development of the Outlying Islands Transfer Facilities (OITF) to improve waste transfer arrangements for the communities on the islands.

'fhe contract was awarded to Swire BF1 Waste Services Limited, a company jointly owned by Swire Pacific Ltd and the American waste management company Browning Ferris Industries Inc.

Under the contract, the company is required to design, construct and operate the facilities for fifteen years.

Speaking at today's contract signing ceremony, the Assistant Director ( Waste Facilities) of Environmental Protection, Mr Benny Wong, said that the OITF would be the seventh transfer facility under the Waste Disposal Strategy aiming to provide a cost-effective and environmentally sound system for the transportation and disposal of waste in Hong Kong.

’’Under our present strategy, the whole territory will be served by three large strategic landfills and a network of nine refuse transfer facilities,” he said.

"At present, three transfer stations are already in operation at Kowloon Bay, Chai Wan and Sha Tin, whilst three stations are being built at Kennedy Town, West Kowloon Reclamation and Siu Ho Wan," he added.

Mr Wong noted that the capital cost for the whole OITF project would be about HKS324 million and the annual operation cost would be in the order of HK$45 million.

He pointed out that the OITF would comprise a network of seven mini-stations located at different islands to serve the scattered island communities.

"It is most important that proper waste disposal arrangements are put in place for these islands as they attract thousands of holiday-makers and tourists," he said.

Capable of handling up to 610 tonnes of waste a day, the OITF will, in addition to municipal refuse, handle waterworks and sewage sludge and small quantities of construction waste.

He explained that construction work of the OITF would be carried out in phases.

"The stations at Mui Wo, Cheung Chau, Peng Chau and Hei Ling Chau will be constructed first and are expected to commence operation in mid 1998," he said.

11

"The remaining three stations at Yung Shu Wan, Sok Kwu Wan and Ma Wan will be developed in later phases," he added.

The OITF will be built to very high environmental standards, with air quality, noise, odour and effluent discharge closely monitored to ensure that there is no nuisance to residents nearby.

"Waste will be compacted into covered containers and transported by specially designed container vessels to the West New Territories Landfill for disposal," Mr Wong said.

Speaking at today’s ceremony, the Chairman of Swire BFI Waste Services Limited, Mr Jim Conybeare, said that the award of contract demonstrated the benefits to the public of EPD’s policy of contracting out the turnkey responsibility for an essential service.

"It results in both effectiveness and value-for-money," he said.

End

Weather of February 1997 *****

February was wetter and less sunny than normal. The monthly total rainfall of 111.7 millimetres was 63.7 millimetres higher than the normal figure of 48.0 millimetres. The accumulated rainfall since January 1 amounted to 156.3 millimetres which was 84.9 millimetres above the normal. The total sunshine duration in the month of 85.5 hours was 12.2 hours lower than normal.

The month started with strong easterly winds and increasing cloud amount under the influence of an intense winter monsoon. Winds gradually subsided during the day on February 1 and there were light rain patches.

On the next day, rain became heavy with squally thunderstorms. Easterly winds strengthened again after the passage of a cold front on February 3 and rainy conditions continued.

The weather improved temporarily on February 4 but there were patches of rain again the next day. Easterly winds strengthened late on February 6 but were soon replaced by moderate northerlies. The weather remained generally cloudy with periods of light rain easing off gradually on February 8.

12

Northerly winds and cloudy conditions then continued. On February 12, winds freshened from the east bringing periods of rain. Strong easterly winds affected offshore areas early on February 14. Remaining overcast, winds moderated and turned northerly the next day.

A drier airstream reached the south China coastal areas on February 18 with the lowest temperature in the month, 10.9 degrees, recorded that morning. As dry air continued to come from the northeast, clouds cleared and the weather became fine and sunny on February 19. Fine weather prevailed till February 24.

A maritime airstream set in bringing warm weather to the territory on February 24. Apart from a few light rain patches early the next day, the weather remained fine until the end of the month. Temperatures rose to 24.6 degrees, the highest in the month, on February 26.

The western North Pacific and the South China Sea was void of tropical cyclone activity in the month of February.

Details of the issuance/hoisting and cancellation/lowering of various wamings/signals in the month are summarised in Table 1.1. Monthly meteorological figures and departures from normal of February are tabulated in Table 1.2.

Table 1.1 Warnings and Signals in February 1927

Type of Wamings/Signals Beginning Time Ending Time day/month hour

day/month hour

Strong Monsoon Signals 1/2 0245 1/2 0750

3/2 0250 3/2 1800

7/2 0015 7/2 0630

14/2 0010 14/2 1015

Thunderstorm Warnings 2/2 2110 3/2 0800

Fire Danger Warnings

Yellow 19/2 0600 20/2 0600

Red 20/2 0600 21/2 0600

Yellow 21/2 0600 22/2 0600

Red 22/2 0600 22/2 1800

Yellow 22/2 1800 23/2 1800

Gas Water Heater 6/2 1630 7/2 1630

Safety Alerts 8/2 0400 8/2 1630

12/2 1630 13/2 1630

14/2 1630 14/2 2300

15/2 1630 19/2 0630

13

Ia.blg.L2 Figures and Departures fr.Q.nLN„Qrma.L- Feb. .1997

Departure from normal

Meteorological Element Figure of the month above normal below normal

Total Bright Sunshine (hours) 85.5 12.2

Mean Daily Global Solar Radiation (megajoule/ square metre) 9.75 0.94

Total Rainfall (millimetres) 111.7 63.7

Mean Cloud Amount (%) 76 3 ...

Mean Relative Humidity (%) 79 1 —-

Mean Daily Maximum Air Temperature (Degree Celsius) 18.0 0.6

Mean Air Temperature (Degree Celsius) 16.1 0.2 —-

Mean Daily Minimum Air Temperature (Degree Celsius) 14.6 0.7

Mean Dew Point (Degree Celsius) 12.3 0.5 ...

Total Evaporation (millimetres) 54.8 24.2

Remarks: All measurements were made at the Royal Observatory except sunshine, solar radiation and evaporation which were recorded at King’s Park Meteorological Station.

End

14

Fire safety seminar invites participation *****

To arouse public awareness on fire safety and to promote proper maintenance of fire services installations in private buildings, the Building Management Coordination Team of the Kwun Tong District Office will organise a seminar for owners’ corporations and mutual aid committees in the district on March 24 (Monday).

A representative from the Fire Protection Bureau of the Fire Services Department will give a talk and answer questions concerning fire safety in private residential and industrial buildings.

A video on the same topic will also be screened during the seminar which will be held at the Kwun Tong District Office conference room on third floor, Kwun Tong District Branch Offices Building, 6 Tung Yan Street, from 8 pm to 9.30 pm.

Participation in the forum is free. Application forms are now available at Room 115, first floor, Kwun Tong District Branch Offices Building, 6 Tung Yan Street, Kwun Tong. Enquiries can be made at 2341 6315 ext 39 or 40.

End

1996 Population By-census Graphic Guide on sale ♦ * ♦ ♦ ♦

The report "Hong Kong 1996 Population By-census - Graphic Guide", to be published by the Census and Statistics Department tomorrow (Tuesday), presents the results of the 1996 Population By-census in graphical form.

The "Graphic Guide", which is bilingual, contains 31 colour charts and one district map to show the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of population in broad groupings.

Purchase of the report can now be made at the Government Publications Centre, G/F, Lower Block, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway Hong Kong. It is also available at the Publications Unit, Census and Statistics Department, 19/F, Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. The price is HK$35 per copy.

The publication follows the reports on "Basic Tables" of the 1996 Population By-census, just released in January this year, as part of the publication programme of the By-census results. More reports are forthcoming in stages.

End

15

Chinatrust Commercial Bank granted restricted banking licence

*****

A spokesman of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said today (Monday) that Chinatrust Commercial Bank, Limited (CCB) had been granted a restricted banking licence by the Monetary Authority under the Banking Ordinance on March 4, 1997.

CCB is a commercial bank under the Commercial Banking Law of Taiwan. CCB's business activities include retail banking, commercial lending, trust funds, stock transfer agency, securities trading and underwriting and international and offshore banking.

CCB has been operating a representative office in Hong Kong since November 1993. It now wishes to establish a restricted licence bank (RLB) to better serve the financial needs of its customers in Hong Kong and Taiwan and to participate in the growing trade finance business as a result of increased economic activities between Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

After the grant of a restricted banking licence to CCB, the number of restricted licence banks in Hong Kong has increased to 63.

End

Tender for 11th issue of 5-year Exchange Fund notes

*****

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority announces that the tender for the eleventh issue of 5-year Exchange Fund Notes will be held on Monday, 17 March 1997 for settlement on Tuesday, 18 March 1997.

Similar to the previous issue, an amount of HKS500 million 5-year Notes will be on offer. In addition to that, another HK$100 million will be held as reserve by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority for supply to Market Makers in the secondary market. The Notes will mature on 18 March 2002 and will carry interest at the rate of 6.55% per annum payable semi-annually in arrears.

Members of the public who wish to tender for the Notes may do so through any of the Market Makers or Recognized Dealers on the published list which can be obtained from the Hong Kong Monetary Authority at 30/F, 3 Garden Road, Hong Kong (or telephone 2878 8150). Each tender must be for an amount of HK$50,000 or integral multiples thereof.

16

HONG KONG MONETARY AUTHORITY EXCHANGE FUND NOTE PROGRAMME TENDER INFORMATION

Tender information for the eleventh issue of 5-Year Exchange Fund Notes

Issue Number : 5203

Tender Date and Time : Monday 17 March 1997, 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

Issue and Settlement Date : Tuesday 18 March 1997

Amount on Offer : HK$500 million plus an additional HKS100 million as reserve stock for the Monetary Authority

Maturity : Five years

Maturity Date : 18 March 2002

Interest Rate : 6.55% per annum payable semi-annually in arrears

Interest Payment Dates : 18 Sept 1997, 18 Mar 1998, 18 Sept 1998, 18 Mar 1999, 20 Sept 1999, 20 Mar 2000, 18 Sept 2000, 19 Mar 2001, 18 Sept 2001, 18 Mar 2002

Tender Amount : Each tender must be for an amount of HK$50,000 or integral multiples thereof. Members of the public who wish to tender for the Notes may approach Market Makers or Recognised Dealers on the published list

Other details : Please see Information Memorandum published or approach Market Makers or Recognised Dealers

End

17

Water storage figure ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Storage in Hong Kong’s reservoirs at 9 am today (Monday) stood at 78.5 per cent of capacity or 459.975 million cubic metres.

This time last year the reservoirs contained 462.865 million cubic metres of water, representing 79.0 per cent of capacity.

End

Fresh water supply to Tsim Sha Tsui affected *****

Fresh water supply to all premises to the south of Austin Road in Tsim Sha Tsui will be weakened from 11 pm on Thursday (March 13) to 6 am the following day for alteration work on watermains.

End

Flushing water cut in Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung * * * ♦ ♦

Flushing water supply to all premises in Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung will be suspended from 10 pm on March 13 (Thursday) to 9 am the following day for alteration work on watermains.

Affected areas include Upper Kwai Chung, Lower Kwai Chung and the Kwai Chung container terminal.

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Tuesday, March 11,1997

Contents Eage No.

Transcript of FS at his office.........................................   I

Transcript of FS at technology centre.................................... 1

Secondment of senior government officials to CE’s office................. 2

39th meeting of JLG...................................................... 2

New Chairman for the Transport Advisory Committee........................ 3

Budget summary broadcast on TV and radio................................. 4

Budget Speech on Internet................................................ 5

On-line video may require licence to operate............................. 7

Demolition contractor fined over mishap.................................. 7

Quality Month 97 to promote quality applications......................... 8

Effectiveness of peer support affirmed.................................. 10

/Sir Robert....

Contents

Page No.

Sir Robert Ho Tung Fund pays out $20M...................................... 12

Granting of banking licence to Generale Bank............................... 13

Exhibition to promote hygiene and health................................... 13

Livestock farming study tour departs tomorrow.............................. 14

102 VMs depart on orderly repatriation flight......................... 15

Monitors’ report submitted to Chief Secretary.............................. 16

Hong Kong Monetary Authority tender results................................ 16

1

Transcript of FS at his office

*****

Following is the remarks by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, at the photo session to unveil the cover of the 1997/98 Budget Speech at his office this afternoon (Tuesday):

Financial Secretary: I have chosen a very rich colour of gold, this symbolises my own confidence in the transition. This sense of glory, it’s like a rising sun heralding a new era in Hong Kong. Green is like itself growth and calmness and serenity, set against a golden background I think it conveys my own feeling about the coming year and the title, set in green, as you know, is called ’’Continuity in a time of Change”. I shall say a bit more about the title later on if you’re going to attend the celebration of the second year anniversary of the Industrial and Technology Centre later on in Kowloon and I will say a bit more about the title.

Question: Why no film title this year?

Financial Secretary: I am sorry disappointing you. I think since I’ve been financial secretary I try to avoid film title any more lest controversy.

End

Transcript of FS at technology centre *****

Following is the remarks by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, at the media session at the 2nd Anniversary of the Hong Kong Industrial Technology Centre today (Tuesday):

Question: Mr Tsang, how confident are you to get the legislators to approve your Budget?

Financial Secretary: Well, I am pretty confident because we had work very hard to do our best to reflect the wishes of Legislative Council members. You know I have met them on several occasions. On separate chances as well, one occasion we have a series of meetings on expenditure. We have another series of meetings on revenue. My colleagues and I have studied very carefully those proposals and tried to reflect as best we can in the Budget. I’m sure they will see that many of their recommendations we’ll be making originating in that. So I am pretty confident they will support it. Well, thank you very much.

End

2

Secondment of senior government officials to CE’s Office

*****

The Government announced today (Tuesday) that Mr Michael Suen, Secretary for Home Affairs, and Mrs Irene Yau, Director of Information Services, will be seconded to the Chief Executive (designate)’s Private Office with effect from March 12, 1997.

The Hong Kong Government is committed to provide all necessary assistance and support to the Chief Executive (designate). In line with this commitment and in response to a request by the Chief Executive (designate), the Government has agreed to the secondment of Mr Suen and Mrs Yau.

Whilst on secondment, Mr Suen will assist the Chief Executive (designate) in his preparation for the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and its Government.

Mrs Yau is due to retire from the Civil Service in April and has agreed to postpone her retirement till the Handover at the end of June. She will be responsible for all information, publicity and public relations matters of the Chief Executive (designate)'s Office. A small team of information officers will be seconded to assist her.

Mrs Stella Hung, Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs will act in Mr Suen’s place as the Secretary for Home Affairs and Mr Thomas Chan will take over from Mrs Yau as Director of Information Services, both with effect from March 12, 1997.

End

39th meeting of JLG

* * * * ♦

The thirty-ninth meeting of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group on Hong Kong will take place in London on March 18, 20 and 21.

The British team will be led by the Senior Representative, Mr Hugh Davies.

The other members of the British team will be Mr Nicholas Ng, Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Hong Kong Government; Mr Alan Paul, Counsellor, Office of the British Senior Representative, Sino-British Joint Liaison Group; Mr Robert Peirce, Political Advisor, Hong Kong Government; and Mr Sherard Cowper-Coles, Head of Hong Kong Department in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

End

3

New Chairman for the Transport Advisory Committee ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ *

The Governor has appointed Dr Cheng Hon-kwan as Chairman of the Transport Advisory Committee for two years from April 1, 1997. The term of appointment of Dr Raymond Ho, Chairman of the TAC, expires on March 31, 1997.

Dr Cheng is a registered structural engineer by profession. He has a long and distinguished record of public service and is currently serving on a number of Government boards and committees, including the Land and Building Advisory Committee and the Airport Consultative Committee.

Commenting on the appointment, the Secretary for Transport, Mr Gordon Siu said: ’’The Government is delighted that Dr Cheng has accepted the appointment. With Dr Cheng’s professional background and experience in public service, I am confident that he will provide new impetus to the work of the Transport Advisor}' Committee.”

Mr Siu also paid tribute to Dr Raymond Ho for his contribution to the TAC.

Mr Siu said: ’’Under Dr Ho’s leadership, the Committee has played a vital role in the development of more and better quality public transport services in Hong Kong and in further improving the efficiency of our road infrastructure.”

”Dr Ho’s professional knowledge and leadership have contributed significantly to the work of the Transport Advisory Committee. His efforts in making the Committee more open and transparent are recognised and appreciated by members of the community. My fellow members on the Committee will miss him."

End

4

Budget summary broadcast on TV and radio *****

Television and radio stations will broadcast the 1997-98 budget summary by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, tomorrow (Wednesday).

Following is the timetable for the broadcast:

Station Time (March 12)

TVB Jade 5.40 pm

TVB Pearl 7.10 pm

ATV Home 5.50 pm

ATV World 6.55 pm

Cable TV News Channel 1 10 pm

RTHK Radio 1 (Chinese) 5.30 pm

RTHK Radio 2 (Chinese) 6.15 pm

RTHK Radio 3 (English) 7 pm

Commercial Radio 1 (Chinese) 5 pm (after main news)

Commercial Radio 2 (Chinese) 6 pm (after main news)

Commercial Radio (English) 5 pm (after main news)

Metro News (English) 5.30 pm

End

5

Budget Speech on Internet *****

The full text of the 1997-98 Budget Speech to be delivered by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, in the Legislative Council tomorrow (Wednesday), will be available to Internet users via the Hong Kong Government Home Page at website http://www.info.gov.hk after his delivery of the speech.

Copies of the Budget Speech will also be available for collection by members of the public from the Publishing Sub-division of the Government Information Services from 10.30 am and from all district offices from 4 pm on March 13 (Thursday).

A budget guide highlighting the major points of the 1997-98 budget and how they affect the average Hong Kong citizen will be distributed free to the public from 4.30 pm tomorrow. A total of 300,000 copies will be issued.

The easy-to-read leaflet, giving budget facts and figures at a glance, will be available immediately after the Financial Secretary delivers his speech at 4.30 pm at:

* Mass Transit Railway stations in Central, Causeway Bay, Mong Kok, Wong Tai Sin, Kwun Tong, Tsim Sha Tsui and Tsuen Wan;

* Kowloon Hung Hom, Kowloon long and Sha fin stations of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation;

and from 4.30 pm to 7 pm at:

* the Information Services Department Publishing Sub-Division. 17th floor. Siu On Centre. 188 Lockhart Road. Wan Chai:

* the Government Publications Centre. Queensway Government Offices. Lower Block, ground floor. 66 Queensway:

* all district offices, and

6

shopping centres of 47 housing estates:

Hong Kong Island

Wan Tsui

Hing Tung

Lei Tung

Siu Sai Wan

Wah Fu

Kowloon

On Kay Fung Tak

Kai Yip Lok Fu

Lok Wah (North) Wong Tai Sin

Shun Lee Oi Man

Tak Tin Lai Kok

Tsui Ping (South) Lei Cheng Uk

Choi Wan Shek Kip Mei

Chuk Yuen (South) Pak Tin

New Territories

Sha Kok Shek Lei (I)

Mei Lam Tai Wo Hau

Hin Keng Shek Wai Kok

Wo Che Hau Tak

Choi Yuen Po Lam

Fu Shin Yau Oi

Heng On Leung King

Kwong Yuen Butterfly

Tai Wo Siu Hong

Wah Ming Shan King

Cheung Fat Tai Hing

Cheung Hong Long Ping

Lai Yiu fin Shui

End

7

On-line video may require licence to operate ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Responding to press reports that a consortium of companies was planning to establish an "on-line video rental business", the Deputy Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport, Mrs Rita Lau, said that any service which fell within the meaning of "broadcasting" in the Television Ordinance would require an appropriate licence.

She pointed out that once the Television (Amendment) Bill was enacted and came into force, the term "broadcasting" would include the provision of television programmes, including films, made available to two or more homes or the general public by means of point-to-point terrestrial telecommunication on payment of a subscription.

As to whether this would include the service mentioned in recent press reports, Mrs Lau said: "On the basis of the reports, I believe that either a programme service licence or a subscription television licence would be required. I have sought further information to confirm whether this is so."

The Television (Amendment) Bill, which will create a new category of programme service licence for point-to-point transmissions of television programmes, is due to have its second reading in the Legislative Council on March 19.

End

Demolition contractor fined over mishap *****

A registered contractor and a demolition work supervisor have recently been convicted and fined $27,000 and $30,000 respectively for causing death and injury while carrying out demolition at a San Po Kong work site in November 1995.

During the incident; a bus passenger was killed and another injured when a piece of brick wall fell from a demolition site at No.l Tai Yau Street in San Po Kong, piercing the roof of a double-decker bus stopping for a red traffic light at Choi Hung Road.

A street lamp was also damaged in the incident on November 9, 1995 at 6.10 pm

8

To improve supervision and safety of all building sites, including demolition sites, by clearly spelling out the parlies responsible for safety of site works, the Buildings Department would introduce a site supervision plan system at the end of the year.

The Assistant Director of Buildings (Legal and Management). Mr Cheung Hau-wai, said a consultancy firm was commissioned in late January to prepare a Technical Memorandum and a Code of Practice for the site supervision plan system.

"The supervision plan will include a comprehensive management system on site safety specifying how the works arc to be supervised and the supervisory responsibilities of the building professionals and all other personnel engaged in the building works.

"The Technical Memorandum which will be subject to legislative procedures will lay down the system and framework for the supervision requirements." he said.

Meanwhile, to provide guidance on the safe execution of demolition works, the department is preparing a Code of Practice on Demolition Works.

"This Code will help to improve safety at demolition sites and is expected to be issued by the end of the year," Mr Cheung said.

"The department will take a serious view of any future cases of carrying out or permitting the carrying out of demolition or any other building works in a dangerous manner." he added.

End

Quality Month 97 to promote quality applications *****

The Industry Department is organising a Quality Month in March to promote greater consciousness and application of quality concepts and tools in Hong Kong.

The annual event is jointly organised by the Industry Department and 12 organisations which are interested in the promotion of quality and quality management systems in Hong Kong.

9

The theme of this year's quality month programmes is "Quality - for Prosperity".

The Quality Month 97 comprises a series of quality improvement activities from March to May. They include seminars, workshops, exhibitions and training courses on quality and quality management. A quality award presentation organised by the Hong Kong Management Association will also be included.

The activities are targeted at executives and managers, especially those from small and medium size enterprises, as well as academics and professionals specialising in quality management.

In addition to producing a quality promotion video for small and medium size enterprises, the Industry Department will be organising a Q-Mark and ISO 9000 certificate presentation and prize presentation to winners of the "Quality Promotion Poster Design Competition". These presentations will be held at an opening ceremony of the "Quality Month 97" scheduled for March 13.

The Chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Mr Henry Tang, will officiate at the opening ceremony.

The Director-General of Industry, Mr Francis Ho, will also be attending the ceremony.

The 12 participating organisations are: City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Management Association, Hong Kong Productivity Council, Q-Mark Council of Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency, Hong Kong Quality Management Association, Hong Kong Society for Quality Control, Hong Kong Trade Development Council, Institute of Quality Assurance (Hong Kong Branch), Paper Communication Exhibition Services, Quality and Reliability Centre, and University of Hong Kong.

End

10

Effectiveness of peer support affirmed *****

An Education Department-commissioned study has found that peer support and counselling among students are effective in helping students combat the problems of suicide and substance abuse in schools.

The study, carried out by the Department of Psychology of the University of Hong Kong, affirmed the effectiveness of the Student Assistance Programme, in which a group of student helpers are trained to assist and counsel fellow students who may be in need of assistance in the areas of substance abuse or suicide.

Interviews with 126 staff members and 227 students in the study affirmed the positive effects of the programme while 329 of these 353 interviewees (93 per cent) found the programme either 'successful' or 'very successful' in helping peers in schools.

It was noted that after implementation of the Student Assistance Programme, both teaching staff and students of the participating schools were more aware of the assistance from the programme and students were more inclined to talk to the peer helpers about their problems.

The study report recommended that the programme should be further developed to become a school-based programme and that effective programmes from individual pilot schools should be cited for reference of other schools.

In response to the Governor's Drug Summit in March 1995, the Education Department commissioned the HKU study at a cost of SI million. The study, which commenced in March 1996 and covered Primary 4 to Primary 6 and Secondary 1 to Secondary 7 students, has now been completed.

The study consisted of two components. The first component was a broadbased survey involving 18 participating schools (nine primary and nine secondary) and five control schools (two primary and three secondary). The survey assessed students' at-risk behaviours related to substance abuse and suicide, students' degree of knowledge of the school support network and services, and students' coping skills.

The second component was the implementation of a Hong Kong Student Assistance Programme in the participating schools. A six-day training workshop for trainers was held in early July 1996. After the workshop, teams of the 18 participating schools developed their own student assistance programmes and trained 25 additional peer helpers.

11

The survey was carried out twice in May and November 1996 respectively before and after the implementation of the programme. The surveys were set to analyse the significance of six factors: at-risk indicators, student support services, school support services, students' coping skills, extra-curricular activities, and lack of coping skills on the part of staff members.

Similar questionnaires were used for staff and students. Follow-up interviews with school staff and students were held concurrently with the second survey.

Return rates of the surveys were high. For Phase 1, the return rates for staff and students were respectively 82.1 per cent (of 1,162) and 95.6 per cent (of 15,662), while those for Phase 2 were respectively 92.8 per cent (of 1,011) and 99.8 per cent (of 17,052).

There were 82 participants in the workshop: five school heads, 54 teachers, seven school social workers and 16 students.

At the workshop, participants were taught on the six basic functions of the Student Assistance Programme : early identification of students in need of services, assessment of the nature and severity of the problem, intervention, treatment, provision of support, and case management.

The programme was found successful. Altogether 489 peer helpers had been trained and 71 of the 82 participants (86.6 per cent) in the workshop rated the training programme as either effective or very effective.

The Assistant Director of Education (Services), Mr C K Tam, said that based on the recommendation of the report, schools will be encouraged to adopt the Student Assistance Programme.

"The department will prepare a resource package on the Student Assistance Programme for use in all schools in the territory," he said.

Mr Tam added that briefing sessions will be held to introduce the programme to schools and that relevant sections of the department will help to monitor the development of this programme in schools on a regular basis.

End

12

Sir Robert Ho Tung Fund pays out $20M *****

The Sir Robert Ho Tung Charitable Fund has recently granted some $20 million for the causes of health, medicine, welfare, and special education, the Deputy Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mr Ho Wing-him, said today (Tuesday).

"The sum enables 57 organisations either to improve their existing services or to purchase new equipment," added Mr Ho, who is also the Chairman of the Fund’s Allocation Committee.

Major grants this year include a sum of $4.9 million to the Samaritan Fund which is managed by the Hospital Authority, to enable it to continue providing financial and technical assistance for patients in need.

A sum of $1.86 million has been granted to the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals to purchase a new cardiac ultrasound imaging system at Tung Wah Hospital.

The St John Council receives $1.57 million for strengthening services, including the replacement of a seven-year-old ambulance. The Hong Kong Family Planning Association receives $1.43 million for setting up the first mobile clinic of family planning.

Other recipients include Po Leung Kuk, Hong Kong Red Cross, Hong Kong Family Welfare Society, The Salvation Army, United Christian Hospital, Tuen Mun Hospital, Shatin Hospital, Heep Hong Society for Handicapped Children, etc.

One of the major trust funds in Hong Kong, The Sir Robert Ho Tung Charitable Fund was set up in 1956 with a bequest of $0.5 million by the late Sir Robert Ho Tung. It is now managed by the HKBC Trustee (Hong Kong) Ltd.

Application is invited once a year in around June and July through the Department of Health, the Hospital Authority, the Social Welfare Department, the Education Department, the Home Affairs Department, and the Agricultural and Fisheries Department.

End

13

Granting of banking licence to Generale Bank 3|C * * * *

A spokesman of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said today (Tuesday) that Generale Bank (GB) had been granted a banking licence by the Monetary Authority under the Banking Ordinance on March 5, 1997.

GB is the largest banking institution in Belgium and ranked 78th in the world in terms of tier 1 capital. The GB group has an estimated 30% share of banking business and 15% of the financial market in Belgium. It provides full-services banking through its 1.100 domestic branches and international network of subsidiaries, branches and representative offices around the world including New York. Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

A full branch will enable GB to maintain its global treasury activities on a 24-hour basis by operating in financial markets of Hong Kong, Brussels and New York.

After the grant of a banking licence to GB, the number of banks in Hong Kong has increased to 183 of which 31 are incorporated in Hong Kong.

End

Exhibition to promote hygiene and health

*****

A highly informative and entertaining exhibition with a wide range of information on food safety and health-related issues will be held at the Hong Kong City Hall and Tsuen Wan Town Hall in the coming weeks.

Entitled 'Hygiene and Health Expo 1997', the exhibition is jointly organised by the Department of Health. Urban Council and Regional Council with an aim to promote public awareness on different aspects of health and hygiene.

It will be held at the Exhibition Hall of Hong Kong City Hall from March 13 to 17 and will move to the Exhibition Gallery of Tsuen Wan Town Hall from March 26 to 30. The opening hours are from 10 am to 6 pm except March 13 (from 3 pm to 6 pm).

14

Apart from the Department of Health, the participants include Labour Department, Environmental Protection Department, the two Municipal Departments, Hong Kong Medical Association and Hong Kong Dietitians Association.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "The number of government departments and organisations taking part in the exhibition has increased this year facilitating members of the public to receive a wide scope of hygiene and health related concepts at one time of visit."

"There will be displays of exhibition boards and models on a wide variety of topics including food safety, oral health, self-care on minor ailments, good hygiene practice at work, environmental pollution, environmental health services, common diseases, nutrition and osteoporosis," he added.

"In addition, there will be audio-visual shows, computer game stalls to make the event more entertaining.

"Free education and information leaflets will be distributed," he said.

End

Livestock farming study tour departs tomorrow

*****

A 40-member local livestock farming delegation will depart tomorrow (Wednesday) for a study visit in Thailand.

To mark the occasion, a banner was presented by Acting Director of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Richard Yip, to the delegation's leader, Mr Tse Hing-cheung, this (Tuesday) morning.

Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Mr Yip hoped that members of the delegation would make use of the trip to learn more about advanced production methods, techniques and systems with a view to promoting the development of local livestock industry.

He pointed out that the delegation, with members from the Hong Kong Livestock Industry Association, would attend an international exhibition and seminar on advanced livestock farming held in Bangkok.

15

During the three-day tour, the group will also visit livestock farming organisations and large-scale pig farms in Thailand.

Mr Yip said the Association, established in 1987, had been actively promoting the development of local livestock industry.

It had organised various overseas livestock farming study visits in the previous years. Places visited included China, Taiwan and Malaysia.

These visits had proved useful as advanced farming techniques and methods acquired overseas could be shared among local farmers, he added.

The delegation is expected to return to Hong Kong on March 15.

End

102 VMs depart on orderly repatriation Hight *****

A group of 102 Vietnamese migrants (VMs) returned by air to Hanoi, Vietnam today (Tuesday) on the 97th flight under the Orderly Repatriation Programme (ORP).

The majority of the returnees, comprising 71 men, 16 women, seven boys and eight girls, were from North Vietnam. Only 15 of the returnees were from Central and South Vietnam.

Most of the returnees arrived in Hong Kong in 1989 and 1996, with the remaining in 1988 and 1991.

The group brought to 9,802 the total number repatriated on ORP Hights since November 1991.

End

16

Monitors' report submitted to Chief Secretary *****

The monitors appointed to observe the Orderly Repatriation Programme operation this (Tuesday) morning have submitted their report to the Chief Secretary.

The two monitors comprised a non-official Justice of the Peace, Mr Charles Chan Sing-chuk, and representative from a non-government organisation, Mrs Anthea Strickland from Save the Children Fund.

End

Hong Kong Monetary Authority tender results

*****

Tender date : 11 March 1997

Paper on offer : EF Bills

Issue number Q711

Issue date : 12 March 1997

Maturity date 11 June 1997

Amount applied I1K$7,O3OMN

Amount allotted : IIK$2,000MN

Average yield accepted 4.94 PCT

Highest yield accepted : 4.95 PCT

Pro rata ratio About 15 PCT

Average tender yield

4.97 PCT

17

Tender date : 11 March 1997

Paper on offer : EF Bills

Issue number 11760

Issue date 12 March 1997

Maturity date 10 September 1997

Amount applied : I1KS3.130MN

Amount allotted HK$ 1,000 MN

Average yield accepted 5.10 PCT

Highest yield accepted 5.12 PCT

Pro rata ratio About 33 PCT

Average tender yield : 5.16 PCT

Hong Kong Monetary Authority tender to be held in the week beeinning - 17 March 1997:

Tender date : 17 March 1997

Paper on offer : EF Notes

Issue number : 5203

Issue date : 18 March 1997

Maturity date : 18 March 2002

Tenor : 5 Years

Amount on offer HKS500MN + 100 MN

Coupon

6.55 pct

Tender date : 18 March 1997

Paper on offer : EF Bills

Issue number : Q712

Issue date : 19 March 1997

Maturity date : 18 June 1997

Tenor : 91 Days

Amount on offer : HK$2,000 MN + 500 MN

Tender date 18 March 1997

Paper on offer : EF Bills

Issue number : Y787

Issue date : 19 March 1997

Maturity date : 18 March 1998

Tenor : 364 Days

Amount on offer : HKS500MN+150MN

Tender date : 18 March 1997

Paper on offer : EF Bills

Issue number : Q073

Issue date : 19 March 1997

Maturity date : 16 April 1997

Tenor 28 Days

Amount on offer : 11KS5.000 MN

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL.: 2842 8777

Wednesday, March 12,1997

Contents Page No.

JLG expert talks scheduled.................................................. 1

New Yau Tsim Mong District Officer appointed................................ 1

34 new building plans approved in January................................... 2

1

JLG expert talks scheduled ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This (Wednesday) evening, a spokemen for the Hong Kong Government in response to press enquiries welcomed the scheduling of a number of JLG expert talks later in the week:

* Defence and Public Order(DPO) at 10.00 am on March 13;

Right of Abode at 2.30 pm on March 13;

Handover Ceremony at 9.30 am on March 14.

These talks follow the round of discussions held this afternoon at 28 Kennedy road on air Services Agreements and legal issues.

The spokesman noted that both sides would wish to make as much progress as possible at JLG XXXIX. "The scheduling of so many meetings in the run up to next week’s Plenary is good news. We hope that as a result the two sides will be able to announce a number of agreements after the Plenary.”

When asked about the Chinese side’s appearance at 28 Kennedy Road this morning, the spokesman said that he was suprised. "The Chinese side knew that the DPO talks would not be taking place this morning. The two sides were discussing the reordering of the time table. This was to make the most use of the limited time left. These discussions have been successful and we can now look forward to a series of meetings over the next two days."

End

New Yau Tsim Mong District Officer appointed ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Ms Rebecca Pun will assume the post of Yau Tsim Mong District Officer tomorrow (Thursday), replacing Mr Bart Ireland.

Ms Pun, aged 34, joined the Administrative Service in 1987 and was promoted to Senior Administrative Officer in 1995.

She has served in the Civil Service Branch, the former City and New Territories Administration, the Central Policy Unit and the former Recreation and Culture Branch.

Ms Pun’s last posting was Assistant Secretary for 1 leal th and Welfare.

End

2

34 new building plans approved in January *****

The Buildings Department approved a total of 34 building plans in January - seven on Hong Kong Island, 13 in Kowloon and 14 in the New Territories.

The approved plans covered 13 for apartment and apartment/commercial developments, seven for commercial developments, 10 for factory and industrial developments, and four for community services developments.

Consent was given in the month for work to start on 47 building projects, which will provide 100,513 square metres of usable domestic floor area and 116,623 square metres of usable non-domestic floor area on completion.

The department also issued 25 Occupation Permits - five on Hong Kong island, eight in Kowloon and 12 in the New Territories.

Of the buildings certified for occupation in January, the usable floor area for domestic and non-domestic uses was 44,253 square metres and 51,221 square metres respectively.

The declared cost of new buildings completed totalled about $1,161 million.

In addition, 21 demolition consents involving 72 buildings and structures were issued.

The department's Control and Enforcement Division received 938 complaints of unauthorised building works in January, and issued 177 Removal Orders on unauthorised works.

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL.: 2842 8777

SUPPLEMENT

Wednesday, March 12,1997

Contents Page No.

Legislative Council meeting;

Government discourages use of plastic wrappers for mailing.......... 1

Clinical wastes treatment at Chemical Waste Treatment Centre under consideration....................................................... 2

Ma On Shan water supply contamination caused by error of subcontractor ......................................................... 3

"Tun Fu" ceremonies................................................. 4

Workload of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data.............. 5

Reinsurance companies..............................................  6

Study on Citizen Card Scheme........................................ 8

Resale of Home Ownership Scheme flats............................... 9

Escort services for medical treatment............................. 11

Mitigation measures implemented along Airport Railway.............. 12

Buildings Ordinance ensures compliance with the required standard. 14

Generating capacity of electric companies.......................... 15

Guidelines for floats............................................. 17

1

Government discourages use of plastic wrappers for mailing *****

Following is a question by Dr the Hon Samuel Wong Ping-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Economic Services, Mr Stephen Ip, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

It is learnt that a substantial amount of postal articles are wrapped in plastic envelopes or bags, thus presenting considerable sorting and stamping problems to the Post Office which requires extra manpower and time to handle such articles. The use of plastic materials for such a purpose also causes environmental problems. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it will consider prohibiting people from posting their mail in plastic envelopes or bags?

Reply:

Mr President,

Use of plastic wrappers is common for mailing heavy weight printed paper items (exceeding 50g) and less common for letter size mail items. Processing letter size mail items packed in plastic envelopes poses operational problems for the Post Office: such mail cannot be processed by the mechanised letter sorting system and have to be manually sorted. Heavy weight mail, whether packed in plastic wrappers or not, have to be sorted manually. Mail packed in plastic wrappers must be posted in bulk and postage is prepaid by means of the Permit Mailing System or postage franking impressions. As such, the datestamping problem does not arise.

The Universal Postal Union, an international postal organisation, permits the use of plastic wrappers for mailing. We understand that no postal administrations disallow the use of plastic wrappers in the post. The Hong Kong Post Office, as part of the international postal network, has no plans to prohibit posting of mail in plastic wrappers.

It is the established policy of the Post Office to discourage the use of plastic wrappers in the post. Since June 1995, printed papers of less than 50g mailed in plastic wrappers have been charged at rates higher than the normal postage payable (ranging from 8% to 16%). The Post Office will continue to encourage their customers to use more environmentally friendly packaging.

End

2

Clinical wastes treatment at Chemical Waste Treatment Centre under consideration *****

Following is a question by the Hon Lee Wing-tat and a written reply by the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Mr Bowen Leung, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

It is learnt that the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is formulating a plan for the delivery of the territory’s clinical wastes to the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre (CWTC) on Tsing Yi Island for disposal. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) the EPD’s move to formulate such a plan is because of the drastic drop in the amount of chemical wastes disposed of at the CWTC last year;

(b) an Environmental Impact Assessment will be undertaken on the above plan; and

(c) the EPD will suspend its plan to construct a purpose-built centralised incineration facility for the disposal of all clinical wastes generated in the territory?

Reply:

Mr President,

(a) The consideration to treat clinical waste at the Chemical Waste Treatment Centre (CWTC) is not connected to the amount of chemical waste treated. The Administration submitted a paper on the Centralised Incineration Facility for Special Wastes (CIF) to the Public Works Subcommittee of Finance Committee in May 1995. During that meeting, Members requested more information on whether the proposed CIF was the most cost-effective means of treating clinical waste and if there were alternatives. The Administration therefore conducted a review on the possibility of utilising existing incinerators, including the CWTC, to treat clinical waste and is now assessing the available options.

(b) If the option of disposing of clinical waste at the CWTC was favoured, an Environmental Impact Assessment would be conducted before making a final decision.

(c) No decision has been taken on the construction of the CIF.

End

3

Ma On Shan water supply contamination caused by error of sub-contractor *****

Following is a question by the Hon Choy Kan-pui and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Mr Dominic Wong, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Regarding the incident concerning the fresh water supply in two newly occupied estates in Ma On Shan - a public housing estate and a Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) estate - becoming salty several days ago, does the Government know:

(a) which departments should be responsible for the above incident, and whether the residents and shop owners who have suffered losses or injuries as a result of the incident will be compensated; and

(b) of the total number of cases involving fresh water supply problems in public housing estates and HOS estates of the Housing Authority in the past three years, the classification of such cases, and whether there are any of such cases for which the Government should bear responsibility?

Answer:

Mr President,

The Housing Department has completed an investigation into the water contamination incident which occurred on 1 March 1997 in a public housing estate and a subsidised home ownership estate in Ma On Shan. The investigation report has been submitted to the Chairman of the Housing Authority, and the findings have been released publicly. The Building Committee of the Housing Authority will examine the report, decide on appropriate follow-up action and recommend whether any disciplinary action should be taken against the contractor or other parties involved.

The report confirmed that the incident was caused by an error made by a subcontractor in connecting the fresh water and salt water mains on a construction site of the Housing Authority. The main contractor has undertaken to examine all claims by residents for compensation arising from the incident.

There were 1,777 cases of fresh water supply problems in public rental housing and subsidised home ownership estates in the past three years. The breakdowns were due to equipment or pipe failure, electricity supply failure, shutdown of water supply by the Water Supplies Department and vandalism. None of these cases showed negligence on the part of the Government. Apart from the incident on 1 March, there were no other cases of fresh water supply being contaminated by salt water supply.

End

4

”Tun Fu" ceremonies *****

The following is a question by the Hon Albert Chan Wai-yip and a written reply by the acting Secretary for Home Affairs, Mrs Stella Hung, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

It is learnt that in major works projects undertaken by the Government in the rural area, a certain sum from the project vote will be set aside to meet the expenses incurred in connection with "Tun Fu" ceremonies. However, no funds are reserved for "Tun Fu" ceremonies in respect of minor projects, and this has resulted in a number of minor maintenance and improvement works not being proceeded with. In this regard, will the Government inform this Council whether it will review the budgets for minor works projects so that District Offices will be provided with adequate funds to meet "Tun Fu" expenses in special circumstance; if so, when the review will take place; if not, why not?

Answer:

Government does not set aside a sum of money from the project vote to meet expenses in connection with "Tun Fu" ceremonies for its works projects, regardless of the size of the projects concerned. Any claims for "Tun Fu" payments are considered on their own merits. If approved, these will be paid in the form of ex-gratia allowance under Head 701 "Land Acquisition" of the Capital Works Reserve Fund in the case of public works projects. Claims for non public works projects are paid from Head 91 Subhead 221 under the General Revenue Account.

Minor works projects undertaken by Government in rural areas mainly cover improvement and maintenance works and are funded under the Capital Works Reserve Fund. These are generally carried out at the request of the local community to improve local conditions. Claims for "Tun Fu" payments will be considered in accordance with the established procedures.

End

5

Workload of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data *****

The following is a question by the Hon David Li and a written reply by the acting Secretary for Home Affairs, Mrs Stella Hung, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Questions:

The Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data recently stated that the number of complaints received by his Office since the implementation of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance in December last year was running at about one per day, and he expressed concern that the 32 staff members in the Office might not be able to cope with the workload. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it will consider allocating additional resources to the Office to cope with the workload?

Reply:

Mr President,

It is true that the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data has been receiving, on average, one formal complaint per working day since the core provisions in the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance came into effect on December 20, 1996. He has also been receiving about 40 enquiries a day. As at the end of February 1997, he has received a total of 39 formal complaints and about 1,700 enquiries.

The handling of complaints and enquiries is only one of the many functions of the Commissioner. His other functions include, for example, promoting awareness and understanding of the Ordinance and also, promoting and assisting bodies representing data users to prepare codes of practice on compliance with the Ordinance.

In considering whether or not additional resources should be allocated to the Commissioner, we have to consider first, the workload of his office as a whole and secondly, the relative priority of competing demands for additional resources.

I fully appreciate the excellent work put in by the Commissioner and his staff and I know that they have been working very hard. Naturally the workload of an office is particularly heavy in the initial stage of its establishment. Since the office has been in full operation for less than three months, it is too early to tell whether any additional resources are required in the longer term.

I can assure Members that despite the very heavy workload of the office, it has been able to cope with the processing of complaints and other important tasks.

End

6

Reinsurance companies *****

Following is a question by Dr the Hon Huang Chen-ya and a written reply by the Secretary for Financial Services, Mr Rafael Hui, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

It is learnt that in recent years, there have been a number of serious frauds in the United Kingdom involving some reinsurance companies, and this has undermined the financial health of insurance companies. In view of this, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) Whether locally registered insurance companies are allowed to enter into reinsurance arrangements with reinsurance companies which are not registered in the territory; if so, of the amount of such reinsurance premiums and the proportion of this amount to the total amount of reinsurance premiums of these insurance companies.

(b) Whether there are any locally-registered insurance companies which have suffered losses as a result of the reinsurers running into operational problems in the past five years; if so, of the number of insurance companies so affected and their respective losses.

(c) Of the measures taken by the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance to regulate the operations of the non-locally registered reinsurance companies which enter into reinsurance arrangements with locally-registered insurance companies?

7

Reply:

Mr President,

(a) The purpose of reinsurance is to spread the risks of an insurance company. It has been the practice for insurance companies world-wide to reinsure both locally and overseas in order to achieve adequate spreading. The Insurance Companies Ordinance ("the Ordinance”) does not prohibit insurance companies authorized in Hong Kong from entering into reinsurance arrangements with reinsurance companies not authorized here. An insurance company is required under the Ordinance to submit to the Insurance Authority (”IA”) the reinsurance premiums it pays to all its reinsurers, but a breakdown into those paid to reinsurance companies authorized or not authorized in Hong Kong is not required. Whilst such a breakdown is not required for prudential regulation, the IA estimates that, of the $6.8 billion of reinsurance premiums paid out by the Hong Kong general business insurance companies, about $3.9 billion (i.e. 58%) went overseas to reinsurance companies not authorized in Hong Kong.

(b) An insurance company may occasionally be unable to obtain recovery of claims from the reinsurance companies for various reasons, including operational problems and insolvency of the reinsurance companies. Any non-recovery of claims from reinsurance companies will be treated as bad debts and will be written-off by an insurance company in the normal course of business. The Ordinance does not require such non-recovery of claims to be reported separately in the financial statements to be submitted to the IA, and hence we have no information in this respect. According to our records, no insurance company in Hong Kong has been affected in the past 5 years by non-recovery of claims from reinsurance companies to an extent which rendered it unable to meet the solvency margin requirement under the Ordinance. This is probably because reinsurance, for the purpose of spreading risks, is normally placed with a panel of reinsurance companies (sometimes more than 20). It is therefore unlikely that failure of a single reinsurance company would significantly affect the solvency position of the insurance company concerned.

8

(c) The overseas operations of reinsurance companies not authorized in Hong Kong are not subject to the regulation of the Ordinance. However, an insurance company in Hong Kong wishing to place reinsurance with any reinsurance company (whether authorized in Hong Kong or not) will be subject to, inter alia, the requirement for adequate reinsurance arrangements. Each year an insurance company is required to submit particulars of its reinsurance arrangements to the IA for inspection. These particulars include the type of reinsurance treaties, the limits under those treaties and the identities of the reinsurance companies.

In determining the adequacy of reinsurance arrangements, the IA will take into account, inter alia, the financial condition of the reinsurance companies concerned by making reference to their financial statements and other relevant information such as rating publications. In case of doubt, the IA would also consult the relevant insurance authorities responsible for the regulation of the companies concerned in their places of incorporation. If the IA is not satisfied with the financial condition of a reinsurance company, the amount recoverable from the company will be excluded in assessing the solvency position of the locally authorised insurance company. Alternatively, the insurance company may be required to remove and substitute the reinsurance company concerned from its panel of reinsurance companies.

End

Study on Citizen Card Scheme * * * * *

Following is a question by the Hon Zachary Wong and a written reply by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mrs Katherine Fok, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

At the meeting of the LegCo Panel on Welfare Services held on 10 January this year, officials from the Social Welfare Department stated that they were in the process of commissioning a consultancy firm to study how the Senior Citizen Card Scheme can be improved. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the scope of the above study;

9

(b) of the expected commencement and completion dates of the study; and

(c) whether the public will be consulted on the results of the study?

Reply:

(a) The study will include a users' survey to obtain data on the rate and pattern of utilisation of the Senior Citizen Card by cardholders, and the attitudes and views of the elderly on the utilisation and coverage of the Scheme. The consultants will be asked to formulate and recommend new and innovative marketing strategies to promote the Senior Citizen Card Scheme with a view to making improvements to the Scheme.

(b) We expect the consultancy to commence in the summer, to be completed by the end of the year.

(c) The views of the elderly collected from the users' survey will be taken into full account when the consultants formulate their recommendations. The consultants' recommendations will be promulgated and public views are always welcomed.

End

Resale of Home Ownership Scheme Hats *****

Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Mr Dominic Wong, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Does the Government know:

(a) whether there have been any Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flat owners who have sold or leased out their HOS flats unlawfully within the ten-year restriction period; if so.

(i) how many of these owners have been prosecuted;

10

(ii) whether there are any of these owners who have not been prosecuted and if so, what the reasons are; and

(b) of the measures which will be taken by the authority concerned to eliminate these unlawful activities?

Answer:

Mr President,

Sale of Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) and Private Sector Participation Scheme (PSPS) flats is subject to the terms set out in the Schedule to the Housing Ordinance. The Schedule specifies that a purchaser shall not sell or lease the flat, in whole or in part, other than to the Housing Authority, or unless a period of 10 years has elapsed from the date of assignment and the balance of premium has been paid to the Housing Authority. A breach of these conditions renders the flat owner liable to a maximum fine of $500,000 and to imprisonment of up to one year.

To date, five cases involving unlawful letting or resale of HOS or PSPS flats have been referred by the Housing Department to the Attorney General for prosecution. One case was withdrawn because the defendant had left the territory and a summons could not be served. In the other four cases, one owner was fined $20,000; another was fined $50,000; and four co-owners in the remaining two cases were each fined $5,000.

There were three other cases involving suspected unlawful resale of HOS or PSPS flats, but no prosecution was instituted because of insufficient evidence (two cases) and expiry of the statutory limit (one case).

The Housing Department regularly reminds owners of HOS and PSPS flats of the statutory restrictions on letting or sale through notices in estate management offices, newsletters, and meetings of management office staff, mutual aid committees and residents associations. Solicitors have also been reminded, through the Law Society, of the resale restrictions.

End

11

Escort services for medical treatment *****

Following is a question by Dr the Hon Huang Chen-ya and a written reply by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mrs Katherine Fok, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Does the Government know:

(a) of the number of elderly or disabled singletons who attended the outpatient departments of public hospitals and the out-patient clinics of the Department of Health, and the number of these out-patients who called for ambulance services or requested escort services in order to attend the out-patient departments or clinics, in the past year;

(b) whether there are any statistical data to show the number of these two types of persons who are unable to attend the out-patient departments or clinics due to the lack of escort services in the past year; and

(c) of the types of escort services for medical treatment which are now available, and the plans in hand to improve such services?

Reply:

The following type of escort services are available for people attending clinics of the Department of Health or specialist clinics of public hospitals:

(i) Non-emergency ambulance transport service

People attending clinics of public hospitals can request non-emergency ambulance transport service which is run by the Hospital Authority. Those attending clinics of the Department of Health can request similar service which is run by the Auxiliary Medical Service in the Kowloon Region and the Fire Services Department in Hong Kong Island and the New Territories. Such service is provided to patients on the basis of medical conditions/needs. Requests for service have to be made through medical professionals, allied health staff or social workers who have to authorize the requests on ground of health need. The service is introduced to persons in need mainly through clinic staff. The Auxiliary Medical Service also introduces its service through radio broadcasting and distribution of pamphlets.

12

(ii) Home help teams

Home help teams subvented by the Social Welfare Department also provide escort service for people attending clinics who are in need of such service. Home help service is introduced to the public through social workers and the distribution of pamphlets.

(iii) Volunteer Workers Programme

In addition to existing volunteer services provided by community organizations, the Social Welfare Department has a pilot Volunteer Workers Programme which provides escort service for elderly people attending medical clinics who are in need of such service. At present, there are two such programmes, one in Wong Tai Sin and another in Sham Shui Po. The teams only serve these specific districts. Applicants have to be 60 years old or above. This service is introduced to the elderly through posters, pamphlets and promotion in multiservice centres for the elderly.

Statistics on attendance at clinics of the Department of Health or public hospitals do not identify whether the patient is an elderly singleton or a disabled singleton. Consequently, we do not have information on the number of such persons attending these clinics nor do we have information on these persons who were unable to attend due to the lack of escort services.

End

Mitigation measures implemented along Airport Railway

*****

Following is a question by the Hon I.ee Wing-tat and a written reply by the Secretary for Planning. Environment and Lands. Mr Bowen Leung, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

The Government plans to construct noise insulation facilities at the Tsing Yi Station of the Airport Railway (AR) with a view to reducing the noise nuisance caused to the residents of Cheung On Estate, but it does not have any plan to provide a total enclosure for this section of the AR. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of the following:

13

(a) whether the authorities concerned will conduct a test on the level of noise at this section of the railway when the AR is due to have its trial run; if so, whether concerned parties in the district (including District Board members and members of the local concern groups and Mutual Aid Committees) will be invited to take part in the test; and

(b) if the noise level at this section of the railway is found to be higher than the acceptable level, whether the authorities concerned will provide a total enclosure for this section and carry out noise mitigation measures, such as the insulation of windows and the provision of air conditioners, in the neighbouring buildings?

Reply:

Mr President,

(a) MTRC will conduct a trial run to ascertain the noise impacts from the Airport Railway prior to its opening in 1998. The noise impacts will be assessed at the nearest noise sensitive receivers at Tsing Yi. The Kwai Tsing District Board will be informed of the detailed arrangements near the time of the trial and concerned parties will be welcome to witness the noise tests.

(b) The environmental impact assessment on the Airport Railway project indicated that the mitigation measures already implemented along the railway alignment, which include noise barriers of extended height on its south and absorptive treatment of the regular barrier on its north, would be sufficient to contain noise impacts to levels within the Noise Control Ordinance. However, in case the noise impacts exceed the statutory limits, MTRC will implement the best practicable measures to comply with the Noise Control Ordinance.

End

14

Buildings Ordinance ensures compliance with the required standard *****

Following is a question by Dr the Hon Samuel Wong and a written reply by the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Mr Bowen Leung, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Regarding high-rise commercial buildings, will the Government inform this Council whether there are any regulations:

(a) governing the types of materials used in additional partitioning, renovation and decoration works undertaken in the high-rise commercial buildings after the issue of occupation permits; and

(b) requiring the above additional installations to comply with fire regulations?

Answer:

Mr President,

(a) The Building (Construction) Regulations under the Buildings Ordinance prescribe in broad terms the nature and quality of building materials to be used so as to ensure compliance with the required structural health and safety standards. The compliance with the Regulations does not depend on whether the occupation permit has been issued or not.

S14 of the Buildings Ordinance provides that no person shall commence or carry out any building works without the prior approval of the Building Authority. S41(3) provides for an exemption from the approval requirement if the building works do not involve the structure of the building.

15

(b) The Building (Planning) Regulations and the Building (Construction) Regulations govern the provision of means of escape and fire resisting construction, etc. Moreover, in obtaining approval from the Building Authority, si6(1) of the Buildings Ordinance lays down a requirement for a certificate from the Director of Fire Services certifying that all fire service installations and equipment will be properly provided.

For building works which require approval from the Building Authority, approval is only given if they are in compliance with the relevant fire safety regulations. Similarly, where the additional building works do not require building approval, compliance with the lire safety regulations is imposed by virtue of s41 (3) of the Buildings Ordinance. Moreover, s9 of the Fire Services Ordinance also empowers the Fire Services Department to take fire hazard abatement action if such additional building works affect the efficient working order of fire service installations or cause obstruction to the means of escape.

End

Generating capacity of electric companies

*****

Following is a question by the Hon Christine Loh and a written reply by the Secretary for Economic Services, Mr Stephen Ip, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

The Hongkong Electric Company Limited (HEC) and the China Light & Power Company Limited (CLP) have monopolies to supply electricity to Hong Kong Island and Kowloon/New Territories respectively. The two companies have separately built, and will continue to build, additional electricity generating capacities which are not needed to meet the territory’s electricity demand, and this has resulted in unnecessarily high tariff charges. In view of this, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the current price per Kwh at which CLP and HEC sell electricity to each other;

(b) of the plans in place to encourage the two utility companies to compete for customers in order to reduce excess capacity, with a view to achieving lower tariff charges; and

16

(c) of the plans in place to establish a fair access charge so that each company can use the other's grid to distribute electricity to customers?

Reply:

The Hong Kong Electric Company Limited (HEC) and the China Light & Power Company Limited (CLP) do not have exclusive rights to supply electricity in their respective supply areas, nor will they be permitted to build additional electricity generating capacity without full justification to the Government. The information sought by the question is as follows:

(a) CLP and HEC sell electricity to one another in emergency situations or, more routinely, when one company finds on a particular day that it needs to operate plant with a high operating cost, such as a diesel-fired gas turbine, to meet peak demand and the other company can transfer power to meet that demand by raising output from plant with a lower fuel cost. The price per Kwh at which such transactions take place is calculated having regard to the fuel costs and other circumstances prevailing at the time and can vary over a wide range. Transaction prices have varied recently from 19.1 to 27.2 cents per Kwh but can reach considerably higher levels.

(b) The question of reduction of excess capacity (in CLP's system) can be addressed more effectively through deferral of generating units due to be installed at Black Point Power Station, rather than through encouragement to CLP and IIEC to compete for customers in each other's supply area.

(c) The Government has no plans to determine a charge for CLP and HEC to access each other's network. The question of charging for such access is a commercial matter for the companies themselves.

End

17

Guidelines for floats ♦ * * * *

Following is a question by the Hon Wong Wai-yin and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport. Mr Gordon Siu. in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

With regard to the float parade accident on 7 February this year, will the Government inform this Council of the measures which will be adopted by the Transport Department to strengthen the monitoring of the safety of parade floats, including the specifications of the decorative designs, so as to ensure that accidents do not occur?

Reply:

Mr President,

Transport Department, in consultation with Fire Services Department, Electrical and Mechanical Services Department and the Police, is drawing up guidelines for floats for compliance by the organisers and participants in parade floats. The guidelines will set out. among others, requirements on the vehicles for use as float vehicles, decoration and fitting out of floats, types of decoration materials to be used, fitting of auxiliary generators and power supply cables, installation of fire extinguisher, ventilation of the float vehicles and rules for drivers and passengers. All floats will be subject to inspection before taking part in a parade. Transport Department will consult event organisers on the guidelines before they are finalised for promulgation at the end of this month.

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

SUPPLEMENT

The 1997/98 Budget

Wednesday, March 12,1997

Contents Page No.

Governor’s statement on the Budget..................................... 1

Transcript of FS’s press conference.................................... 1

Budget preparation a matter entirely for HKSAR: FS.................... 13

5.5 per cent real growth in GDP forecast: FS.......................... 15

High-level think-tank for services industry........................... 16

Strengthening of infrastructure continues............................. 18

More homes and land from boost in housing spending.................... 19

Education an investment in quality: FS................................ 21

Welfare spending ’impressive’......................................... 23

/Extra 600....

Contents Page No.

Extra 600 police officers on front-line duties............................ 26

$15.1 billion surplus for 96/97 forecast.................................. 26

No tax relief for housing and profits tax level unchanged................. 29

Salaries tax concessions proposed......................................... 30

Overall rates to be reduced by 0.5 per cent............................... 34

Stamp duty on property transactions to be adjusted........................ 36

Foreign withholding tax to be amended..................................... 36

10-year driving licences to be issued...................................   37

Exemption level for estate duty raised.................................... 38

Duty on alcoholic beverages to be reduced................................. 39

Transition Budget underpins strong and healthy economy.................... 40

Enhancement of information technology education welcomed.................. 42

Quotable quotes in the Budget speech 1997/98 ............................. 43

Financial Secretary’s TV broadcast........................................ 50

Financial Secretary to take calls from the public..................... 51

1

Governor’s statement on the Budget *****

The following statement is issued by the Governor, the Rt Hon Christopher Patten, today (Wednesday):

"Donald Tsang's budget has struck the right note for the transition. He has stuck faithfully but creatively to the financial policies which are at the heart of Hong Kong's spectacular success, and which provide the foundations for its future growth. It is a positive signal to the rest of the world that for the fifth year in a row we have been able to cut taxes, increase spending on social services and vital infrastructure, and bolster our already impressive reserves. I am sure the community will especially appreciate the Financial Secretary's focus on tax concessions for the sandwich class, and his continuing commitment to improving services to the disadvantaged and deserving.”

End

Transcript of FS's press conference

*****

Following is the transcript (simultaneous interpretation version) of the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang’s press conference at GIS Press Conference Room after delivering the 1997/98 Budget in the Legislative Council this (Wednesday) afternoon:

Moderator: Welcome to this press conference. First of all I would like to remind you that for the photographers on the front row, when you take pictures please do not stand up, otherwise you will be blocking the view of the simultaneous interpreters.

The Financial Secretary will be answering your questions in a while and as you can see, we have got Mr K C Kwong and Mr Mike Rowse accompanying our Financial Secretary today. Mr Kwong is the Secretary for the Treasury and Mr Rowse is the Director of Business and Services Promotion Unit.

When you want to put questions to the FS, please first raise your hand and I will point at you showing that you have the floor. The press conference will have to be wrapped-up at around 6 o'clock and the last two questions will be called around 5.50, and the last two questions will be one in English and one in Chinese and then that will mark the end of today's press conference.

2

Mr Donald Tsang: Thank you. I am sure all of you must have heard me speaking at LegCo for over an hour-and-a-half just now, and earlier on your colleagues have conducted an indoor session on my Budget. I am sure you have a lot of questions for me today.

This year’s Budget is special and when we started working with the Chinese side on this particular Budget this has generated a lot of curiosity from all quarters. And also in the process of discussing with the Chinese side on the Budget, a lot of quarters expressed views that maybe the budgetary process would not be as smooth as before. But as it turned out, the budgetary process was quite smooth and what is particularly heartening is that we are working with the Chinese side on something so politically sensitive and the outcome and the result, is acceptable and satisfactory to all parties. And so me and my team, we are very heartened by this.

Concerning expenditure for this year, we followed our traditional guidelines and we have pushed our expenditure level to the limit allowed by our resources and it is over the $200 billion mark. And of course members of the community have got varied views on expenditure and in the process of developing this Budget we have tried to accommodate wishes and views from all quarters and we have tried to strike a balance.

As for revenue, especially with regard to taxation, indeed we have followed conservative guidelines and the reason for doing so is that concerning the revenue from now up to 2001, there are several big projects that have to be covered and these big projects are all quite expensive. For instance the several railway projects would cost $50 billion as an initial estimate and that is why we have to be very cautious here.

And secondly, we have to be mindful of inflationary pressure and in the last quarter of last year inflationary pressure has gone back up again and we believe that inflationary pressure will continue to rise and this year we expect the inflation to reach 7%. Coupled with the fact that exports are rising again and our growth rate being 5.5%, that is why we have to be very cautious and prudent. And also, with regard to tax concessions and allowances we have to be very careful.

We believe that the sandwich-class is very important here when it comes to tax allowances, that is why we have given them more tax concessions. And also, for the business sector and for those who possess their own homes, I have also tried to give them more concessions with regard to rates by a reduction of 0.5 percentage point. And so many classes and members of the community will benefit from this Budget and for details you can refer to my Budget Speech.

3

We have attempted to accommodate views from LegCo as well as views from the community from all quarters. We have made response to those views in our Budget and if there are areas where members of the community are not specifically or totally satisfied, we hope that next year we will do better. And if this year the Budget is accepted by LegCo, then in July the transition will be very smooth politically; and economically it will be so and I have confidence in that particular point.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, concerning tax relief for first time home-buyers you believe that they should not be supported. However, in Hong Kong, most of the members of the public cannot afford their homes. However, at the same time you are trying to reduce stamp duty. Aren’t you encouraging speculation?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): On the one hand you say that we are not helping them to buy their first homes. On the other hand you are saying that stamp duty is being reduced so that speculation is encouraged. So what is your point? So I think your question shows that there are various pressures from different quarters of the community and whatever we do we have to be very careful.

We know that we have to help those who are buying their first homes and for those who are buying homes that are priced under $4 million we believe they should be helped and that is why we are reducing stamp duty. And also the number of first time home-buyers is increasing over the years and we believe that there is no need for tax relief and so we have to strike a balance and we have to be fair here. When I say fair I mean the assistance should be given to those who are really in need of it.

Reporter (in Chinese): A follow up please. If you reduce the cost of buying property, wouldn’t it encourage speculation?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): We are talking about reduction of stamp duty for flats under $4 million and most of those flats are HOS flats, in other words government-assisted flats, and in those areas speculation is not really very rampant.

Reporter (in English): You have a total surplus of $47 billion: $15.1 billion in 96/97 and $32 billion in 97/98, and then a fiscal reserve of like $360 billion but at the same time you don’t want to dip into the surplus. Why don’t you dip into the reserve to spend for the railway development strategy? I mean is the rationale for sitting on this huge or extremely huge surplus?

Mr Donald Tsang (in English): First of all, when you talk about surpluses, I am giving you the year-end surpluses. You just cannot add on, say, I made $15 billion this year surplus and then $32 billion the following year, therefore you add the two together.

4

Now, we have to remember that this is a very exceptional year: a year of transition, a year in which we are worried about the inflationary pressures which I mentioned, and we are quite anxious to make sure that the SAR Government will come into being with a very robust financial position, and that is the reason why we are rather cautious.

And we have looked at the expenditure programme, the expenditure programme for the coming few years. On the railway strategy alone, as I explained in the Budget Speech, will almost wipe-out completely the surplus I am forecasting during the next three years. So in other words, whatever surplus we have or whatever fiscal reserves we have at the moment, is unlikely to grow substantially during this period. So I believe we have struck the right balance.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, LegCo members almost managed to reach a consensus that your forecast of a $32 billion surplus for 97/98 and when they asked you to allocate $300 million in addition in order to support the CSSA you rejected. Why is it that you cannot allocate $300 million out of the $32 billion?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): We have to separate the two things. The surplus is a one-off surplus whereas the expenditure in question is a recurrent expenditure. And concerning expenditure, on previous occasions I am sure you must have heard from Mr Kwong that when it comes to expenditure our policy is well known. The expenditure growth is more or less equal to the trend growth rate of 5%. If we are to spend more then it would exceed this indicator, exceed this guideline.

Now, for individual items it is difficult to say on what items should we spend more and on what items should we spend less. Now you are talking about welfare. In the past five years the real term increase is over 88% so you can see that we are already investing very heavily in welfare services. Under these circumstances, should we invest more, should we spend more? Of course it would be better if we spent more. However, because the pie is only so large, if we spend more on welfare we must take away from other areas. And so we have to strike a balance.

At present 10% of our spending goes to welfare and members of the public really have to consider, have to ponder whether or not we should spend even more on welfare. And if we spend more on welfare does it mean that we spend less on law and order, does it mean we spend less on education?

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, about the five-year forecast. Up to 2001, every year the surplus is about 10% growth. In the next five years the fiscal situation will be very healthy. Given the circumstances, why is it that in terms of welfare expenditure you cannot increase it more?

5

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): Well 1 don’t quite get your figures but for the welfare group this year it is more than 9%. As for other expenditure items, we have to be governed by the 5% overall growth. Is it that we have to put al! the money in welfare? Actually I answered the previous question, it is similar. We have to strike a balance, we can’t just focus on one particular area. Please do not forget that in terms of welfare, in five years the growth is 88%. Should we put more into that area?

Reporter (in English): You are telling us not to get excited about the surplus because you are going to spend most of it or more of it on the railway development strategy projects. Now, haven’t you already set aside the amount in your Capital Works Reserve Fund or elsewhere on this? Why do you have to use the surplus as such on the railway development strategy?

Mr Donald Tsang (in English): The Capital Works Reserve Fund is being set aside to meet the other obligations, and our forecast of surplus have not taken into account this additional expenditure. Then if there is an additional requirement - and there would be additional requirement - to the tune of our estimation, then we have to come up with something like $50 billion for the railway projects. You have to come up (with it) from somewhere. You would have to come up (with it) from the additional revenue we expect to get from the coming years.

Reporter (in English): So in other words, without this surplus you can't finance the RDS Plan?

Mr Donald Tsang (in English): Well we could. It means going into deficit. You go into deficit.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, in the Budget you say that you need a group to study land supply. Now when will you have the study results? What will be the direction of your study? Will you resort to reclamation or the change of land use to increase residential use?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): Well two aspects. One in terms of land supply we have to see whether we can do more. And secondly, internal procedure, perhaps we can streamline the procedure. We have to see whether there is duplication of procedure and whether there can be better co-ordination among the departments. I will liaise with Secretary for Housing and Mr Bowen Leung and other colleagues, we will study together. After the Budget Debate we will proceed with the work.

Reporter (in English): Mr Tsang, could you say how much input China had into this Budget and whether there are any points in the Budget in which you were influenced by input from China or from the incoming SAR Administration?

6

Mr Donald Tsang (in English): First of all, Mr Vines, you know that we are already spending to, what I say, to the limit in that the 5% guideline has been fully met. As far as internal arrangement of expenditure is concerned, this is a matter almost entirely for Hong Kong Government, decided by the Star Chamber. But on this matter of veto, perhaps Mr Kwong who has been dealing with the Chinese side will answer that question.

Mr K C Kwong (in English): In fact in the whole preparatory process the initiatives have been taken by the departments and branches within the Hong Kong Government and the Financial Secretary consulted widely, including the legislature, professional bodies and through the District Offices the community at large. At the end of the day a consensus was reached in the Budget Expert Group and I think this is a Budget which represents what we would have done with or without Chinese participation.

Mr Donald Tsang (in English): We have abided by our budgetary guidelines and principles throughout the process. We have not made any sacrifices at all on matters of principle during our consultation process.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, for this Budget, okay, you submit it to LegCo for vetting but the provisional legislature said that they will also scrutinise this Budget. Do you think it is appropriate, whether before or after July? If they want you to answer questions will you go to the provisional legislature to answer questions?

Mr Donald Tsang (in English): I am an official, I will take things as they come. As I said last year my primary task is to get the blessing of this Legislative Council, this is my prime task. I will put in all my efforts here. I don't consider other issues for the time being.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, your speech says that to cope with the expenditure in the next five years regarding the medium range forecast you have to have certain surpluses and you say that after the SAR is set up there will be robust programmes. Now what will be the money for? I think you have some ideas. Okay, you have a lot of surplus. How can you justify the surplus so that the public will not see you as a miser?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): Now please understand this. About this concept of a miser, if you look at the expenditure, as I said, we followed the trend growth rate. It is 5%. It is to the full. We haven't spend less, so we are not miserly. Even if we have more money we can’t spend more, otherwise we will have unacceptable inflation. But this year we are conservative and I have explained that in my speech. Wc considered the expenditure in the next few years and we considered the setting-up of the SAR. There may be extra pressures because of that and so wc have to have healthy finances. As for future plans, we don't have specifics yet. Mr Tung and Exco will have to decide on the future path.

7

Reporter (in Chinese): About the medium range forecast, what is the basis for your projection in terms of expenditure? What programmes do you have in mind, what programmes have been included?

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): For the medium range forecast, the expenditure side, for recurrent expenditure it is very simple we follow the trend growth rate, we follow the ceiling, and we will spend to the full. As for capital expenditure, we have to consider our Works Departments and the progress of the works projects, their capability there. So after considering these two sides we come up with the projection for the next few years about the expenditure for each of the years. As for these forecasts, they have not included the railway priority projects. The reason is this: for these major priority railway projects, the details are still being handled by the two railway companies and our consultants and we will only have more information by the end of this year or early next year. By that time we will have a more concrete picture. Perhaps we can reach some sort of agreement with them. Under the circumstances, the amounts to be allocated, the timing of the allocation and the form of allocation, we still have to thrash it out. So in terms of the MRF we have not considered this sort of requirement. But as Mr Tsang said, say if we look at the figures for the ACP and for the MTRC, if we look at that experience then from 1998 to the year 2001 the requirement may reach S50 billion.

Reporter (in English): Stamp duty, and you also announced how much land will be released over the next five years, how can you say that speculation won't be fuelled by these two measures?

Mr Donald Tsang (in English): Well, supply of land, if I increase supply then that will certainly have a stabilising effect on prices, it will not increase speculation. As far as stamp duty is concerned, the stamp duty concessions were given largely for flats valued at $4 million and below and these are Home Ownership flats or Private Sector Participation Scheme flats where the market is restricted, so where speculative activity is unlikely to be rampant.

Reporter (in English): Mr Tsang, could you tell us a little bit more about the several railway projects? The fact that it will cost $50 billion. And when will the expenditure be drawn-down, and also how are you going to allocate that? And is it that KCRC and MTRC have already worked out who will be responsible or what railways?

8

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): We haven't got figures and we haven't got the agreement. If we had we would have included them in our medium range forecast. The reason why they are not in the medium range forecast is because we don't have the details and the specifics yet. But what is obvious is that they are a priority project and the community have come to a consensus that they should be accorded priority and our initial estimate is that they will cost more or less the same as the total cost of ACP and also they are likely to commence in 1998. And we estimate that they will cost $50 billion and that is why we have to find the money somewhere for them. But we haven't got the specifics, as I said, and each step we have to approach the Finance Committee for allocation of funds and then the figures will be incorporated into the medium range forecast.

Reporter (in English): Whether in preparing the Budget you consulted with demographers on two points. The first would be what number and percentage of the population would move into the elderly category over the next, say, five to ten years -if you have those figures? And secondly, 1 am wondering whether anybody has examined what effect this Budget might have on housing - the pattern of housing demands - and perhaps encouraging population growth?

Mr Donald Tsang (in English): Well, you have a vast array of wide questions. It is very difficult to answer very satisfactorily. As far as the housing demand is concerned, I have said that the Budget certainly has no adverse effect as far as pricing is concerned. At least we are now aiming at increasing supply in terms of land and that consequently will have a beneficial effect in depressing prices.

The area I won’t be able -1 couldn't catch. Well, the likely raising hands - they all take all the questions.

Reporter (in English): Do you want me to repeat the question?

Mr Donald Tsang (in English): The impact on the elderly, I just couldn't relate to the two thoughts.

Reporter (in English): The question is, I am asking whether you, in preparing the Budget, asked for demographic information about what the number in percentage -either as a gross number or as a percentage of the population - would be moving into the bracket of elderly over the next five to ten years, because that would affect, I think, your projections on recurrent spending?

And secondly, whether or not these programmes which you have made to support the family would in fact have the effect of helping people to encourage larger families and perhaps encourage population growth or change the pattern of housing demand? In other words people would want larger flats instead of smaller ones because they would be bringing more people in to live with them, for example.

9

Mr Donald Tsang (in English): You asked again very involved questions. As far as our social programme is concerned, in estimating our elderly facilities - and not only elderly facilities - for educational facilities for the young, various other things, and hospital facilities for the sick, all these plans are based on population forecasts. And obviously, what we have now provided and what we propose to provide under the Budget for additional facilities, reflected those figures.

Then the question of whether the increasing - what you are saying is whether the longevity of Hong Kong -

Reporter (in English): No, my question is really this Mr Tsang, I'm sorry I’m not making it very clear. On one hand you are making proposals that respond to social situations. What I am suggesting by my question is that these proposals themselves have an effect on people's decision-making and that you would be encouraging a different pattern of housing, a different demand of housing and perhaps even a different family size, just by the encouragements that are built-in by the various tax concessions, etc, that are in this. And whether you have considered that or whether demographers have looked at that in the course of preparing the Budget?

Mr Donald Tsang (in English): I do not think our Budget is that powerful, Francis. I do not think, for instance, that allowing incentives in terms of tax allowance for children will encourage people to make more babies. That certainly will not be the consequence of it. But what I am trying to do is to face the reality of the community and the population make-up at the moment and to what extent whatever concession I make is likely to make the greatest impact in the targeted group which I have in mind, i.e. the sandwich-class, and I think I have done that. Whether it is going to change societal demands on major economic activities, 1 don't think it will happen that way at all.

Reporter (in English): A very simple two-part question please. First, you have mentioned in your speech, sir, that when Hong Kong becomes a SAR it will have reserves of $330 billion, including the Land Fund. Could you break that down please?

And as a second question, you also mentioned your initiative as sort of the Business and Service Promotion Unit. Could you talk a bit more about that please?

Mr Donald Tsang (in English): 1 would love to. I mean I don't have to answer either two questions. First of all the breakdown of the $300-odd billion, Mr Kwong will answer that. The second question about Business Promotion and Service Industry, Mr Rowse will answer that.

10

Mr K C Kwong: I suggest that you look at Table 3 on page 7 of Appendix A to the yellow pages (of the Budget Speech).

Reporter (in English): Well, thank you very much.

Mr Mike Rowse (in English): Unfortunately, I can't point to a table to give you all the answers. I can invite you to a dedicated press conference on Monday afternoon when you will be able to ask questions about the proposed new unit, to your hearts content. In very simple terms, we are hoping to set up the unit in April and we will have two broad streams of work. One is on promotion of services, and I think you have probably got the Budget folder and you have got in there the final report of the government task force on promotion of services. I have a copy here. If you haven't got one I can arrange to let you have one. It sets out some pretty impressive progress over the last year and what we really want to do now is pick up the ball and run with it. I have been on the phone today and yesterday to the people we are inviting on to the strategy group that will meet in April for the first time. The people concerned are very enthusiastic - I was talking to Victor Fung this morning - they are very excited and they want to sit down with the government and consider the way forward on development of service industries.

The second broad stream of work is to help in business programme. That has been going for a year under the Secretary for the Treasury, supported by the Efficiency Unit, but it is now poised to take-off very, very rapidly which is why we are proposing to have a dedicated unit to take it forward into phase two, and I think for details you will have to wait until Monday.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, in your Budget you mentioned that next year, for private housing, there will be 21,000 units and earlier on there was an estimate that in the private sector there will be 30,000, and so there is a gap between the two. So does it mean that looking at the figures the demand will still lag behind the buyers and the pressure on property prices will continue to rise?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): Concerning supply, indeed the situation is still tight and in the coming few years we will be concentrating our efforts in this particular field and that is the reason why, and we hope that we can increase private sector housing production. But the government alone cannot increase the production single-handedly because half of the production comes from the change of density in order for more units to be built, and so we really have to see whether we can rationalise the procedures so that the private sector can be assisted in redevelopment.

Reporter (in Chinese): Can you relax the pre-sale restriction from one year to two years, so that the production will be increased.

11

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): You are talking about administrative steps in order to increase production and to interfere a little bit more with the market. Actually, the Secretary for Housing keeps thinking about this and if necessary, I am sure he is going to put together more effort.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, several short questions for you. First, was it that at the outset in your Budget Speech you devoted a lot of attention to say that your Budget follows absolutely the guidelines of the Basic Law; does it mean that you are facing pressure from the provisional legislature or the Chinese side?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): Now concerning the Budget, I really took the trouble to point out what is the key of the success of Hong Kong. First of all we have to keep developing Hong Kong as an international business centre and secondly, we have to have a high degree of financial autonomy and economic autonomy, and thirdly we have to manage our finances prudently. And these are all guiding principles and the guiding principles are not applying only now but also are reflected in the Basic Law and so are to be applicable in future as well. And so it does not mean that I am facing pressure from the Basic Law. I have made it very clear that concerning expenditure we have pushed it to the limit as allowed under our guidelines. It is not because of the Basic Law. The reason why I quoted so many provisions of the Basic Law is because the Basic Law can ensure that we can keep following these fiscal guiding principles and so it is a guarantee to the international community and the economic community.

Reporter (in Chinese): The Basic Law says that deficit should be avoided and we can see that for the reserves, by next year they will reach $360 billion and so the reserves keep growing and you are awash with money and you cannot return wealth to the community.

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): But you are talking only about expenditure. We can work on revenue from tax. You have to read the Basic Law with flexibility but the bottom-line is that we have to strike a balance.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, about the surpluses, I have done some calculations and we have $360 billion, it is 1.7 times of the public expenditure this year. Don’t you think that is too high in terms of the reserves? You say that in the next few years we will have surpluses but we have to cater for the railway development strategy. You always say this but you can have more and more surpluses. We can only have more and more surpluses. What should be the right level of surpluses so that we can take some money out for capital projects which won’t be inflationary? What is the right level of surpluses?

12

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): Well, in terms of expenditure we have already tried our best. As for capital expenditure, especially for investment like infrastructure or capital expenditure, we have tried our best, we have spent to the full. We have enough financial resources but we have to mobilise other resources. Say for 96/97 there was still under-spending, it was because in terms of engineering, engineer resources, construction resources, we haven’t tapped that to the full. Of course if need be we have to put in more money but for recurrent we have spent to the full.

Reporter (in Chinese): Can you reduce expenditure so that there won’t be dire consequences? Some economists say that you have huge surpluses and that means the money cannot be used productively.

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): Many economists have different views. If they are in my position they will know.

Moderator (in Chinese): It is already 5:50, the last two questions. One is in English.

Reporter (in English): Mr Tsang, you have been a trade negotiator for a long time and you know perfectly well that the kind of conversation you have heard today very generously on the wine tax is usually part of a bargaining process with other countries. Do you expect any return from France or Italy or Australia, the wine exporting countries, to Hong Kong?

Mr Donald Tsang (in English): No, I have not considered that aspect. Wine duty is an excise duty, it is not a duty imposed on imports or exports as such, because this duty is imposed on even local products, so it is not a matter for the World Trade Organisation at all. It is a matter of self-enlightenment, if I might say so.

Reporter (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, now as far as I know there are some worries that Hong Kong may be caught between the dispute between China and the US in terms of MFN and trade, so how can you anticipate the impact of this factor on your budgeting processes?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): I will use Cantonese to answer you. I think you will get it. For budgeting, last month, as I said, for the economic growth rate it is 5.5%. It is not just the economic activities in Hong Kong, we also consider the market situation in the region and also the US and also the opening up situation in China. And so in 1997 we feel that we can reach 5.5%.

Reporter (in Chinese): If there is big controversy, say if China loses MFN, what would be the scenario?

13

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): That will of course have an immense impact on our economy but as far as I see it the chances for this to happen are not that great. So what we are doing now is what we can anticipate and 5.5% is objective and balanced.

Moderator (in Chinese): Thank you for coming. Thank you Mr Tsang and thank you Mr Kwong and Mr Rowse. For those who have not been able to ask questions, tomorrow at 3 pm at the same venue Mr Tsang will also be here to take questions. Thank you.

End

Budget preparation a matter entirely for HKSAR: FS * ♦ ♦ ♦ *

To achieve a unified transitional Budget, a process of consultation had been carried out by the Joint Liaison Group’s Budget Expert Group for the whole financial year 1997/98, the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, said today (Wednesday).

Delivering his Budget Speech to the Legislative Council, Mr Tsang said it had been made clear that after June 30, 1997, the preparation of the annual Budget would be a matter entirely for the Special Administrative Region and its Government in accordance with the Basic Law.

He said throughout the consultations, there were four objectives:

* firstly, to achieve a Budget that would cover the entire financial year from April 1, 1997, to March 31, 1998; a budget which was financially sound and prudent and which would take into account the interests of all;

* Secondly, to ensure that public services would continue smoothly, uninterrupted by the transition;

* Thirdly, to ensure that there would be no room for doubt about the continuity of the tax system and other sources of revenue across the transition; and

* Fourthly, to draw up a Budget which would strengthen Hong Kong’s financial and economic prospects for the future.

14

Mr Tsang said the two sides were able to reach agreement for two reasons: a shared commitment to a smooth and successful transition and a shared understanding that the Basic Law’s provisions should guide the drawing up of this year’s Budget.

He said an important part was played by the Basic Law.

”By my count, 44 per cent of the Basic Law’s provisions are designed to lay down the economic rules of the Special Administrative Region and to describe how Hong Kong's separate economic system will continue to flourish,” he said.

"The most important of these is Article 5. It states: 'The socialist system and policies shall not be practised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and the previous capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for 50 years.'

"This is a clear pledge that Hong Kong will continue to enjoy free, open and competitive markets which are not controlled by state planning or state direction."

Mr Tsang pointed out three of Basic Law's economic features:

its commitment to Hong Kong's role as an international business centre;

* its guarantee of financial prudence; and

* its promise of economic autonomy.

He said the spirit of the separate economic system which the Basic Law was pledged to safeguard Hong Kong's "four pillars of wisdom": the rule of law, a level playing field, corruption-free government and the free flow of information.

"To ensure the rule of law, the community must live by laws that are public, laws that apply to all and are enforced by courts which are fair, open to all and independent.

"A level playing field is crucial for competitive markets and efficient business. It means that contracts are awarded fairly and equitably. No favours. No patronage.

"A corruption-free government is essential to preserve the rule of law and a level playing field. Without a total commitment to integrity, the civil service will not command the respect of the community or win its co-operation.

15

’’Finally, the free flow of information is the lifeblood of a modem service economy. It leads to transparency and accountability in both the public and the private sectors.

"It is the best protection against corruption and abuse of power, not only by Government but in the business world as well," said Mr Tsang.

End

5.5 per cent real growth in GDP forecast: FS *****

One of the major reasons Hong Kong had almost doubled its GDP in real terms since 1984 was the momentum of economic development in the mainland of China over this period, the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, said in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday).

Delivering the 1997/98 Budget speech, Mr Tsang said Hong Kong had been uniquely placed to take the fullest advantage of the business opportunities created by economic modernisation and the "open door" policies.

He said Hong Kong had long had a clear understanding between the Government and the business community that business decisions are best left to entrepreneurs and investors.

"The Government's job is to provide the right environment for business to grow," he said.

Taking all factors together, said Mr Tsang, it is forecasting for this year:

* 5.5 per cent real growth in GDP;

* 8.5 per cent increase in merchandise exports and eight per cent increase

in exports of services; and

* seven per cent increase in inflation (CPI(A)).

"Thus, as members can appreciate, 1997 promises to be another year of sound, sustainable growth.

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"This will ensure solid growth in employment, new business opportunities and good profits across the economy as a whole," said Mr Tsang.

However, he said, the slight pick-up envisaged in inflation was a reminder that when a mature economy like Hong Kong was growing at a rate close to full capacity, there would inevitably be pressures on both the labour and land resources.

"To contain these pressures, we will have to continue our battle against inflation.

"This underlines the importance of the Government maintaining the tightest control over public spending and pursuing maximum value for money throughout the public sector.

"It also means doing everything possible to raise productivity and enhance business efficiency," said Mr Tsang.

End

High-level think-tank for services industry *****

A high-level Services Promotion Strategy Group will be set up to steer the way forward in Hong Kong’s fast developing services sector.

The Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, said the Group would ensure Hong Kong remains the services centre par excellence in the region, and indeed the world.

Group members will include senior representatives from the Trade Development Council, the Coalition of Service Industries and Chambers of Commerce.

The Group will hold its first meeting next month.

In addition, a new unit will be set up to take responsibility for both Helping Business and Services Promotion.

"This unit will not be some far flung quango. It will be part of my own office and its head will report directly to me," Mr Tsang said today (Wednesday) in his annual Budget address to the Legislative Council.

17

The new initiatives come as the Task Force on Services Promotion released its final report today (Wednesday) to mark the end of its work.

"Publication of the report does not mean our work is finished," said Mr Tsang.

"On the contrary it is just beginning."

The report includes full details of the Task Force's work and 'impressive achievements' as well as plans for the coming year.

Mr Tsang said the Task Force had achieved 90 per cent of its original targets covering the major service industries.

For example:

Legislation was introduced to allow development of a captive insurance industry;

* Plans finalised for the Mortgage Corporation;

Negotiations completed on all major Air Services Agreements, giving Hong Kong its own separate arrangements;

* Six licences issued for Personal Communications Services;

Dialogue opened with Hong Kong Telecom to develop further Hong Kong's international telecommunications market.

Mr Tsang said the Trade Development Council had also been active in promoting trade in services and had 'responded to the challenge with gusto'.

"Already it has developed a long-term strategy which emphasises both the breadth and depth of Hong Kong's quality services," Mr Tsang said.

"In 1996/97. it spent’ over $28 million on a promotional campaign. In the coming year, it will spend nearly $30 million.

"The Export Credit Insurance Corporation and the Hong Kong Productivity Council have also played their part."

Mr Tsang said he had been impressed by progress made by the Stock Exchange and Futures Exchange in developing and marketing new products.

18

Examples included the introduction of pound sterling futures contracts and the preparations for the launching of regional derivative warrants and convertible bonds.

"I welcome these developments which enhance our position as an international financial centre," he said.

"I would be willing to consider favourably, on a case-by-case basis, what incentives new products might enjoy including possibly some form of stamp duty concession.

"Similarly, with stamp duty on stock transactions. I remain prepared to review the stamp duty rate once the industry has finalised its plans to reduce brokerage charges."

End

Strengthening of infrastructure continues *****

While changes to the institutional arrangements were taking place, Hong Kong had continued to strengthen its infrastructure, the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, said today (Wednesday) in the Legislative Council.

Delivering his 1997/98 Budget speech. Mr Tsang said the Government was pressing ahead with the modernisation of the transport facilities. For example:

Hong Kong has created the world's busiest container port. In 1996, it handled 13.2 million TEUs. The first berth of CT9 is expected to come on stream in 1999;

the new airport is scheduled to open in April 1998. It will be able to handle 35 million passengers and 3 million tonnes of cargo a year. The completion of a second runway at the end of 1998 will boost overall runway capacity from 38 to 50 aircraft movements per hour within the first year of commissioning;

the Airport Core Programme's transport corridor between Central District and Chek Lap Kok will be progressively completed over the next few months and open to the public in stages;

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* the cross-border land crossings handle over 24,000 vehicles and nearly 150,000 passengers a day. In 1997/98, $30 million are proposed to spend to increase staff at Lok Ma Chau and Sha Tau Kok to cope with the build-up in traffic; and

* Hong Kong is poised to embark on major improvements under the Railway Development Strategy over the next few years.

Mr Tsang said good progress had also been made on the initiatives he announced last year to create an advanced technology base:

* funds for Phase I of the Science Park project has been earmarked. It is estimated that this will cost over $400 million over the next five years;

a site for the second industrial technology centre has been identified. Funds will be available for work to start in 1998; and

the potential of a site in Tuen Mun for the fourth industrial estate are being investigated. The new estate should be ready by the year 2004 when the Hong Kong Industrial Estates Corporation’s land bank is expected to be fully taken up.

End

More homes and land from boost in housing spending ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

More homes and land will be made available as a result of this year’s $32.1 billion Budget allocation for housing - a 16 per cent increase in real terms over last year's allocation.

As a result, about 63,000 new flats will become available in 1997/98 and land supply over the next five years will jump to 587 hectares, compared to 402 hectares over the past five years.

Of the new flats. 21.500 will be public rental flats, 16,000 will be subsidised flats for sale and 4,000 will be flats for the Sandwich Class Housing Scheme operated by the Housing Society. The remaining 21,500 will be produced by the private sector.

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The Financial Secretary. Mr Donald Tsang, said that over the past five years, in partnership with the Housing Authority, spending on housing had increased by 34 per cent in real terms.

"However, demand for housing still outstrips supply," Mr Tsang said in his annual Budget address today (Wednesday).

"The only really effective long-term solution is for the Government to produce more land for residential development.

"But I recognise we must try to do even more, so I have decided to chair a special task force to look at land supply and its impact on infrastructure and housing development.

"The relevant policy secretaries will join me in this new initiative. We will start our work shortly."

Mr Tsang said that over the next five years, 327 hectares of land would be released for public housing while another 260 hectares would be released for private housing (compared to 257 and 145 respectively over the past five years).

Mr Tsang said Hong Kong had made remarkable progress in providing adequate shelter for the community, with 47 per cent of households living in public housing.

"As standards of living have risen, more and more people aspire to owning their own home. We will step up our efforts to help them achieve this ambition," he said.

"Over the next two years, as a result of our recent injection ot $1.38 billion into the Housing Society's Sandwich Class Housing Loan Scheme, we will be able to provide loans to a further 3.000 families."

Mr Tsang said that until additional land was available, there would continue to be pressure on property prices.

He said the Government’ was constantly reviewing market conditions and was already taking action against specidators using companies to buy flats and resell them shortly afterwards.

"The Inland Revenue Department is tackling this problem vigorously by charging Profits Tax on any gains from these trading-type transactions." he said.

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"I welcome the steps which the Real Estate Developers Association is taking to inhibit speculation.

"And the Hong Kong Monetary Authority will continue to encourage financial institutions to take a prudent and responsible attitude towards mortgage lending."

End

Education an investment in quality: FS * ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

A $45 billion Budget allocation for education in 1997/98 is an investment in quality and in Hong Kong’s future, says the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang.

This year's allocation is a 7.7 per cent increase in real terms over last year's Budget.

Mr Tsang said the Government's priorities were to maintain and upgrade the quality of education to help sustain Hong Kong's development into the next century.

He said parents, educators, employers and the Government were concerned whether the education system could produce young people with the right professional, technical or vocational qualifications and skills.

As a result, extra resources will be pumped into spending on basic and tertiary education, language skills, special needs students and retraining.

In regards to basic education, specific initiatives include:

* $300 million over the next two years to provide multi-media computers

to all public sector primary schools and to establish Information Technology Learning Centres in prevocational and technical schools;

Continual reduction in class sizes and increase in number of graduate teachers in primary schools;

* Converting 26 more primary schools to whole-day schooling; and

* Improving financial assistance to needy students under the Textbook Assistance Scheme.

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On tertiary education, Mr Tsang said the Government would support tertiary institutions to develop their strengths to become centres of excellence.

He said over the next few years an extra 11,000 hostel places would be provided to enable more students to identify with their academic community and participate more in its activities.

Students from outside Hong Kong will also be increased.

"This will help widen the outlook of our own students, enhance their language and interpersonal skills, and inject a healthy element of competition," he said.

Mr Tsang said more would be done to improve language skills, which are vital to Hong Kong's success as a Special Administrative Region of China as well as an international centre for business.

In 1997/98, almost $42 million will be spent on raising language training standards in schools by:

* Extending the Chinese and English reading schemes to more levels of primary and secondary schooling;

* Providing more intensive English courses for Secondary Six and Seven students in Chinese-medium schools;

* Establishing a Language Resource Centre to support the classroom teacher; and

Conducting a pilot exercise to establish language benchmarks for teachers.

Another $78 million will be spent in universities (compared to $68 million last year) to raise students' language standards.

"Universities can also send a clear signal about the need for higher language standards by only accepting, as a general rule, students who meet the language requirements in their Advanced Level Examinations," said Mr fsang.

The Financial Secretary said there was a need to intensify efforts to ensure a workforce well-trained to meet the needs of a changing economy.

23

He said the role of the Employees Retraining Board and the Vocational Training Council had been reviewed and a comprehensive strategy for manpower training and retraining to meet the needs of the 21st century was being mapped out.

"In the meantime, we recently injected $500 million into the Employees Retraining Board to enable it to sustain its retraining programmes to assist local workers to rejoin the labour market and to extend the scheme to cover new immigrants," he said.

Mr 1 sang said the Board of Education had made valuable recommendations about what should be done to improve opportunities for children with special educational needs.

As a result, the Government will spend $30 million in 1997/98 on improvements such as additional staff and increased school grants for the upgrading of facilities and activity programmes in special schools.

End

Welfare spending 'impressive' ♦ * * * ♦

Hong Kong has an impressive record in welfare spending which has risen 88 per cent in real terms over the past five years, says the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang.

Mr Tsang said welfare spending will rise to $21.2 billion in 1997/98 - a 9.1 per cent increase over last.

Spending on health services rises to $28 billion - a 5.7 per cent increase over 1996/97.

"Members of this (Legislative) Council and the vast majority of the people of Hong Kong want this to be a caring community," Mr Tsang said during his annual Budget address to the Legislative Council today.

"They want us to provide all the support necessary for those whose families are unable to care for them or who need help to do so. And we offer them this support through our extensive health and welfare services.

24

"The group for which this Council and the community have expressed the greatest concern is the elderly. We share this concern.

"That is why, in addition to the financial assistance we provide, we are constantly improving our continuum of care for elderly people."

Mr Tsang said that in 1997/98 the Government would:

* Continue to develop a new support network for the elderly by identifying more of those who are vulnerable and more volunteers to reach out to them;

Enhance general out-patient services for the elderly by increasing the number of doctors and supporting staff;

* Open 30 new social, day care or multi-services centres;

Provide five new nursing homes with 1,200 beds for the frail elderly;

* Provide an extra 1,546 residential care places in other facilities.

He said from April 1, residence requirements will be relaxed for elderly people who retire to Guangdong, allowing them them to receive their monthly standard Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) payments there.

"This will, in the words of a Chinese proverb, help those who like falling leaves wish to return to their roots," he said.

Other groups of people in need will benefit from new spending initiatives in 1997/98.

Spending proposals include:

* Providing an additional 790 day places and 1,664 residential places for children and adults with a disability;

* Providing 600 places in sheltered workshops or supported employment;

* Providing 3,511 places in day nurseries or creches;

Providing in-depth training programmes for social workers and other professionals involved in handling child abuse cases; and

25

* Continuing to provide CSSA to those who need financial help.

"In 1996/97, we are spending $7 billion on CSSA - an increase of 35 per cent in real terms over 1995-96 and we expect a further increase of 11 per cent in real terms in 1997-98," he said.

Mr Tsang said the Government was committed to helping new arrivals from China integrate smoothly into Hong Kong life.

"In 1996, around 60.000 new arrivals from the mainland made Hong Kong their new home," he said.

"Programmes to help the new arrivals begin the moment they arrive. For example, they are offered general advice and assistance at Hung Hom Railway Station." he said.

"They are given information directories, in simplified characters, on the services available to them.

"We offer special orientation programmes, as well as counselling and referral services. Around 30.000 new arrivals in 1996 benefited.

"As for the children, we help them fit into our schools with special support services and remedial English programmes."

He said in 1997/98. around $168 million would be spent on new-arrival children - an increase of more than 150 per cent in real terms over 1996/97.

Mr Tsang said a 5.7 per cent increase in health spending would be used to raise still further the standards of health care, said Mr Tsang.

In the 1997/98 financial year, the Government will provide an extra 669 hospital beds, which include 126 from the opening this year of North District Hospital first phase.

The Government will complete one new general outpatient clinic and expand five others to cater for an extra 90.000 patient consultations a year.

An extra 57 staff for the student health service will also be provided within this fiscal year.

End

26

Extra 600 police officers on front-line duties ♦ * ♦ * ♦

The Government will ensure that Hong Kong's excellent Police Force continues to provide a secure environment for the community, said the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang.

Mr Tsang said that in 1997/98, an additional 600 police officers would be put on front-line operational duties.

The extra officers will staff the new police districts at Chek Lap Kok and North Lantau, patrol roads and highways across the territory and strengthen the Crime Wing Headquarters.

He said almost $70 million would be spent on computers, enhanced communication systems and new high-speed, anti-smuggling boats, all of which will help officers do their jobs even more efficiently.

Mr Tsang said Hong Kong was fortunate to be one of the few places in the world where the crime rate had gone down - the 1996 crime rate being 19 per cent lower than that for 1991.

"Even more reassuring, the rate of violent crime was 29 per cent lower. This makes us a much safer place to live and work than other major cities like London, New York, Tokyo or Toronto," said Mr Tsang in his annual Budget address to the Legislative Council today (Wednesday).

End

$15.1 billion surplus for 96/97 forecast *****

A surplus of $15.1 billion for 1996/97 is forecast, the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, told the Legislative Council today (Wednesday) when reviewing Hong Kong's public finances in his Budget speech.

"This is a substantial increase over the $1.6 billion I originally estimated in my 1996 Budget. Revenue for the year is $6.6 billion more than originally estimated, while underspending amounts to $6.9 billion," said Mr Tsang.

27

"As we enter the run-up to the transition, I am able to report that our financial position is very strong.

"Our fiscal reserves are buoyant. We will start life as a Special Administrative Region in an extremely favourable position."

On the expenditure side, he said, there was an underspending of $5.5 billion from the Capital Works Reserve Fund.

"We missed our expenditure targets for capital works projects by $2 billion; for purchase of premises by $2 billion; and for land acquisition by $1.5 billion," said Mr Tsang.

On the revenue side, said Mr I sang, there were increases in both recurrent and capital revenues for two main reasons:

Firstly, the recurrent receipts are forecast to be $5.8 billion higher than originally estimated. A sharp rise in activity in both the property and stock markets led to a surge in receipts from stamp duty in the second half of the year; and

Secondly, land revenue is likely to be $1 billion higher than originally forecast. Enthusiasm among developers has risen recently. They are now showing considerable eagerness to finalise premium payments for the redevelopment of sites.

"While additional revenue is always welcome, these increases come from two particularly volatile sources. It would not be wise for me to anticipate that this boost to our finances would be maintained over the medium term." said Mr Tsang.

In drawing up this year's programme of expenditure, Mr Tsang said, the budgetary guideline that government expenditure should grow at a rate no faster than the economy had been followed.

"When account is taken of all additional spending initiatives to be introduced in 1997/98, I estimate that government expenditure (excluding payments from the Capital Investment Fund) will total $202.2 billion. This is an increase of $24.5 billion over the revised estimate for 1996/97.

"After adding forecast payments from the Capital Investment Fund of $0.8 billion, total expenditure will amount to $203 billion." he said.

28

On the revenue side, after the various tax and duty changes, said Mr Tsang: ”1 am forecasting total receipts in 1997/98 to be $234.7 billion - an increase of $32.4 billion over the revised estimate for 1996/97.”

He said Hong Kong could expect a sharp growth in revenue for two reasons: the additional revenue from the collection of rents in accordance with the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law and the accounting changes to the treatment of income received from land transactions.

"I am forecasting an overall budget surplus for 1997/98 of $31.7 billion," said Mr Tsang.

However, he said, while this was a huge figure, the forecast should be viewed as a one-off.

He pointed out that there was one major omission from the Medium Range Forecast - it did not take into account the substantial contributions that might be needed for the high property projects under the Railway Development Strategy as the precise amount and timing of the contributions were not yet clear.

"We have to look with caution on 1997/98 as a unique year: falling after the completion of our contributions towards the cost of the airport and the airport railway and before our contributions to the Railway Development Strategy," said Mr Tsang.

It would only be prudent to earmark a sum of this magnitude to meet the potential funding for these projects over the forecast period, he said.

"A contribution of this size would take up virtually all of the surpluses I am forecasting for the period," Mr Tsang added.

End

29

No tax relief for housing and profits tax level unchanged *****

No tax relief for housing expenses will be introduced and the level of profits tax will remain unchanged in the 1997/98 fiscal year, the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, said today (Wednesday) in his Budget speech.

He said some members of the Legislative Council had called for a tax allowance to cover spending on mortgage interest or even rental payments and some had suggested that some form of tax concession for first-lime home buyers should be provided.

While he had considerable sympathy with the family which was investing a substantial part of its monthly income in buying their own home, it was also a government objective to encourage as many families as possible to become home owners.

"Nevertheless, it would be wrong in principle to create a general tax concession, regardless of the individual family's needs, to cover investment in housing." said Mr Tsang.

Any help which the Government provides to promote home ownership should be given specifically to those families which need such assistance, he said.

"For this reason, we have established the Home Ownership Scheme, the Sandwich Class Housing Scheme and the Private Sector Participation Scheme. These have already helped some 220,000 households to buy their own homes.

"I believe that these programmes are far more effective than tax relief would be." said Mr Tsang, pointing out that today, more than 50 per cent of households own their own home.

Mr Tsang said he did not propose to make any changes this year to the level of corporate profits tax.

"By comparison with our competitors in the region, our level of Profits Tax is already very low. We are still highly competitive even when we look at their effective tax rates (that is. the actual tax paid after all tax concessions and deductions have been applied)." he said.

Mr Tsang noted that members' views on profits tax were mixed.

30

"Mr personal view is that a case could be made out for a comprehensive review of profits tax to examine whether we can make our tax system and business environment even more competitive," he said, adding that this review would proceed next year.

To maintain the real value of the duty charged on fuel, tobacco and methyl alcohol, Mr Tsang proposed to raise the duty rate by six per cent, in line with the rate of inflation.

"This will bring in additional revenue of $430 million in 1997/98 and $1.9 billion up to 2000/01," he said.

End

Salaries tax concessions proposed ♦ * * * ♦

The Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, today (Wednesday) proposed a wide range of concessions in salaries tax and a number of changes in the marginal tax structure.

Moving the second reading of the Appropriation Bill 1997 in the Legislative Council, he proposed the following concessions in salaries tax:

to increase the basic allowance from $90,000 to $100,000 and the married person's allowance from $180,000 to $200,000. This is an increase of 11.1 per cent, well above the rate of inflation.

to increase the allowance for the first and second child by 10.2 per cent, from $24,500 to $27,000.

to increase the allowance for the third to the ninth child by 12 per cent, from $12,500 to $14,000.

to increase the basic allowance for dependent parents and for grandparents from $24,500 to $27,000 (a rise of 10.2 per cent) and the additional allowance from $7,000 to $8,000 (a rise of 14.3 per cent).

to increase allowance for dependent brothers and sisters by 10.2 per cent, from $24,500 to $27,000.

31

* to increase the single parent allowance by 66.7 per cent, from $45,000 to $75,000.

* to increase the disabled dependent allowance by 66.7 per cent, from $15,000 to $25,000.

* to increase the maximum deduction for taxpayers claiming expenses in respect of fees for training courses attended at approved institutions by 66.7 per cent, from $12,000 to $20,000 a year.

"In drawing up my proposals on tax reductions, I have had to balance two considerations," Mr Tsang said.

"The first is the need for financial prudence. I am very conscious of our obligation to ensure that the SAR Government is in the strongest possible financial position on July 1.

"The second is the case for the people of Hong Kong to enjoy a fiscal dividend from the success they have created."

In deciding on these Salaries Tax concessions, Mr Tsang said he had stuck to the principle of targeting the groups that needed them most.

"In a caring community which respects traditional family values, the tax system should recognise the special difficulties faced by single parents or families caring for relatives, particularly those with a disability.

"The size of the concession for the training expenses is part of our effort to keep Hong Kong a premier centre for business by encouraging the work force to upgrade its professional and technical qualifications," he said.

The Financial Secretary told the Legislative Council that during his Budget consultations, he received a w ide range of proposals on the marginal tax structure from members and professionals in the accounting and taxation fields.

"With the healthy revenue position forecast, both for 1997/98 and in the medium term. 1 agree that there is scope for me to revamp the structure.

"This will give added relief to middle-income salaries taxpayers, especially the 'sandwich class'. In framing my tax concessions. I have been very conscious of the needs of this particular group." he added.

32

Currently, the marginal tax band widths are set at either $20,000 or $30,000. Mr Tsang proposed to standardise them at the level of $30,000 and to rationalise the marginal tax rate by adopting a uniform interval of 6 per cent.

’’This revamping will simplify the structure and make it easier to understand,” he said.

Mr Tsang explained the changes:

* The first marginal tax band will be widened from $20,000 to $30,000, and the marginal tax rate will be kept at the current low level of 2 per cent.

* The width of the second marginal tax band will be maintained at $30,000, but the marginal tax rate will be reduced from 9 per cent to 8 per cent.

* The width of the third marginal tax band will also be maintained at $30,000. but the marginal tax rate will be reduced from 17 per cent to 14 per cent.

* The top marginal tax rate will be kept at the current level of 20 per cent.

He said that this meant a taxpayer with a chargeable income of $100,000 would pay nearly 25 per cent less tax. The number of salaries taxpayers who had to pay the standard rate of 15 per cent would also decrease, he said.

"The concessions I propose this afternoon will benefit 96 per cent of our salaries taxpayers,” Mr Tsang said.

He then gave some concrete examples of how he proposed to cut the tax bills for individual employees and their families.

* A single-income family of four, earning $22,000 a month, will have its tax bill cut by nearly 90 per cent. It will pay less than $20 a month in tax.

* The typical sandwich-class family, with a monthly income of $26,000, will pay 68 per cent less tax. It will pay only $237 a month in tax.

♦ A married couple with two children will have to earn over $100,000 a month, or more than $1.2 million a year, before they pay salaries tax at the standard rate of 15 per cent.

33

He said that during last year's Budget debate some Legislative Council members expressed concern about the consequences of increasing the basic allowance in real terms, that is, at a higher rate than inflation. They argued that the effect might be to make the tax net too small or the tax base too narrow.

"I have looked carefully at the statistical evidence on this subject. In each of the last five years, we have raised the basic allowance in real terms. Yet the total number of taxpayers, that is. the tax net. has remained relatively stable, at around 1.4 million.

"Similarly, the yield from salaries tax. as a proportion of total revenue, that is. the tax base, has been reasonably stable over the last five years." he said.

The explanation for the stability of our tax net and productivity of our tax base lay in our rapid economic growth, he said.

Salaries taxpayers occupied the better-paid jobs and had benefited most from the increasing demand for well-qualified and experienced staff. The result was that while an increase in the basic allowance in real terms removed some taxpayers from the tax net. their disappearance tended to be temporary. As their salaries rose, they returned to the tax net.

"I hope that members will accept my assurance that today's tax concessions will not undermine the productivity of Salaries l ax as a source of revenue." he said.

He estimated that these concessions would cost $3.1 billion in 1997/98 and $20 billion up to 2000/01.

The proposals on Salaries Tax will take effect from the year of assessment starting on April 1. 1997.

End

34

Overall rates to be reduced by 0.5 per cent *****

Delivering his Budget speech today (Wednesday), the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, proposed that the overall rates percentage charge should be reduced from 5.5 per cent to 5 per cent, which is an historic low.

In the Urban Council area, the percentage for Urban Council rates would decrease from 2.8 per cent to 2.6 per cent and that for the general rates from 2.7 per cent to 2.4 per cent.

In the Regional Council area, the percentage for Regional Council rates would go down from 4.4 per cent to 4.2 per cent and that for the general rates from 1.1 per cent to 0.8 per cent.

After these adjustments, 28 per cent of ratepayers will pay the same or lower rates and about 59 per cent will face an increase of 20 per cent or less, he said.

But there would still be some who would lace a relatively large increase in rates even after lowering the overall rates percentage charge.

"I propose to give these ratepayers some relief by imposing a 20 per cent cap on increases in rates for 1997/98 and for 1998/99. This relief will apply to about 13 per cent of ratepayers in 1997/98. In 1998/99, about 87 per cent of all properties will have no change in rates." Mr Tsang said.

The average increase in rates in 1997/98 for a small private Hat would be only $29 per month - an increase of 8.8 per cent.

He told Legislative Council Members that the largest single group of tenants, those living in public rental housing, would not be affected directly by changes in rates. As in the past, the Housing Authority would absorb the effect of rates increases until the next rent review and public housing tenants, in practice, would be little affected because rents were revised only every two years and were fixed on the basis of affordability.

"As for the business sector, the average rates payment for non-domestic premises will, in overall terms, fall by 3.4 per cent. Industrial premises will enjoy the largest reduction, with an average 17 per cent cut in their rates bill. For offices, the reduction will be a useful 6 per cent on average," he said.

35

’’Lower rates for business firms are another contribution to ensuring Hong Kong is as user-friendly as possible to business, thus reinforcing our role as an international business centre," he stressed.

The net effect of these proposals on revenue from general rates was that in 1997/98, it would remain at the 1996/97 level of about $6.3 billion, whereas the two Councils’ rates would increase from $9.4 billion to $10.3 billion. The cost of these proposals to general rates was $1.2 billion in 1997-98 and $3.4 billion up to the end of the century, he added.

The Financial Secretary said: "In formulating my proposals on rates, I have not lost sight of the government rents which some ratepayers will have to pay from July 1997 in accordance with Annex HI to the Joint Declaration and Article 121 of the Basic Law.

"I have also taken into account the financial position of the Urban Council and the Regional Council, their planned programmes of activities and their rates revenue requirements for the next triennium, since their main source of funding comes from rates."

On the routine revaluation of rates during 1996/97, which was mentioned in his last Budget speech, Mr Tsang said the general revaluation had been completed and, based on rental values on July 1, 1996, the overall average increase in rateable values was around 17 per cent.

Domestic properties showed an average increase of 23 per cent and nondomestic properties an average increase of only 10 per cent for the past three years. The rateable values for approximately 8 per cent of properties would actually decrease or remain unchanged.

Referring to the possibility of conducting the general revaluation on an annual basis, Mr Tsang said the objective would be to introduce smaller rises in rates each year instead of a larger rise once every three years.

"This is a complex issue which we are still studying," he said. But he assured the Legislative Council that the views of Members and the public would be carefully considered before any final decision would be taken.

The proposals will cone into effect on April 1 this year.

End

36

Stamp duty on property transactions to be adjusted

*****

The Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, today (Wednesday) proposed to adjust the threshold values for the various stamp duty bands to benefit those buying flats with a value of $4 million or less.

As a result of the proposed adjustments, the stamp duty paid on a $2 million flat will be halved, from $30,000 to $15,000.

Moving the second reading of the Appropriation Bill 1997, Mr Tsang estimated that about 50,000 property transactions would benefit from the proposal in 1997/98.

"The concession will cost $620 million in 1997/98 and $3 billion up to 2000-01," he added.

He explained that he made adjustments to stamp duty on property transactions last year in order to benefit buyers of lower to medium-value flats, in particular those bought under the Home Ownership and Sandwich Class Housing Schemes.

"Increases in property prices have eroded this concession since the last Budget. Because of the Government’s commitment to encouraging home ownership, I would like to restore the effect of last year’s concession," he said.

End

Foreign withholding tax to be amended *****

The Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, proposed today (Wednesday) to amend the part on foreign withholding tax in the Inland Revenue Ordinance.

He explained that a judicial decision had indicated that foreign withholding tax charged on income or turnover was a legitimate expense, which should be deductible in determining assessable profits whatever the residency status of the company concerned.

The Inland Revenue Department is following the judicial decision in its practice, he said.

37

But in the past, the Government took the view that the Inland Revenue Ordinance allowed a deduction for foreign withholding tax on income subject to Hong Kong profits tax only for companies which were controlled and managed in Hong Kong, he said. The deduction would not be available to overseas companies operating a branch here.

Nevertheless, during the Budget consultations, the tax, accounting and banking professions had asked the Government to clarify the law so as to provide certainty, he added.

”1, therefore, propose to amend the Inland Revenue Ordinance to reflect the judicial decision and the Department's current practice.

"This will, I hope, offer another inducement to encourage overseas companies to set up branch operations in Hong Kong, thereby strengthening our status as an international financial centre." he said.

End

10-year driving licences to be issued *****

The Financial Secretary. Mr Donald Tsang, proposed in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday) to issue driving licences valid for 10 years except for those aged over 60.

He also proposed to charge $900 for a 10-year licence. This comprised $520 for the licence fee. and $380 for a 10-year levy to the Traffic Accident Victims Assistance Scheme (which currently charges an annual levy of $38 on driving licenceholders).

He said that this was good value for money because a three-year licence currently cost $864. comprising $750 for the licence Ice and $114 for the levy.

The cost of this proposal is $20 million in 1997/98 and $610 million up to 2000/01.

"We now issue driving licences which are valid for one or three years. Regular renewal is somewhat inconvenient to licence-holders, and those who forget can commit an offence by driving without a valid licence." he said.

38

A IO-year licence would make life easier for drivers and reduce administrative costs for the Transport Department. Since 10 years is a long time, the Commissioner for Transport would issue notices to remind people that their licences were due for renewal, he added.

On the scheme to encourage people to scrap their old cars on environmental grounds, which was introduced last year, Mr Tsang proposed to extend it for another 12 months and review it again at the end of the period.

"Since the scheme started in June last year, we have received an average of about 150 applications each month. As I promised in the last Budget, I have reviewed the effects of the scheme. It works and there have been no abuses."

To increase the number of cars eligible under the scheme, the Financial Secretary would cut the period a person was required to own the car before it was scrapped from two years to one year.

"And 1 will reduce the requirement for the car to have been licensed immediately before scrapping from two years to one." he said.

Mr Tsang also proposed to extend First Registration Tax exemption to electric vehicles for another three years with another review at the end of the period.

He reiterated that the aim was to make electric vehicles, which do not cause air pollution, more attractive by reducing their initial cost.

End

Exemption level for estate duty raised

*****

The Financial Secretary. Mr Donald Tsang, proposed to increase the level below which no estate duty is payable from $6.5 million to $7 million for the 1997/98 fiscal year.

"Above that level. I propose that estate duty be payable at 6 per cent on estates between $7 million and $8.5 million; 12 per cent on estates between $8.5 million and $10 million; and 18 per cent on estates over $10 million." he said.

39

The cost of this proposal would be $12 million in 1997/98 and $103 million up to 2000/01, he said.

The proposal will come into effect on April 1 this year.

End

Duty on alcoholic beverages to be reduced

* ♦ ♦ * ♦

The duty on wine will be reduced from 90 per cent to 60 per cent, the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, told the Legislative Council today (Wednesday).

This will cost $110 million in 1997/98 and $490 million up to 2000/01.

He explained that the case had been put to him that the 90 per cent duty on wine was too high and was affecting Hong Kong's tourist industry and business generally.

"For this reason. 1 propose to reduce the wine duty from 90 to 60 per cent." he said.

"I am looking to shops, restaurants and hotels to pass on this duty reduction to their consumers. I shall ask the Consumer Council to monitor the price of wine in restaurants, hotels and other retail outlets to see that they do so."

Mr Tsang reiterated that in March 1994. a simple ad valorem duty system on alcoholic beverages was introduced. 1 he system had benefited ordinary consumers by giving them greater choice and cheaper alcohol as importers had to compete for sales, especially at the lower end of the market.

"And it is also consistent with our obligations under international trade rules that we should treat local and imported products exactly the same. Thus, there is no valid argument for me to change the system.

"As the French proverb says, and as those of you who enjoy a glass of wine from time to time will know, it is only the first bottle which seems expensive. Once that has taken effect, so I understand, drinkers worry less about the price.

40

"As Financial Secretary, however, 1 need to be mindful of Hong Kong's status as a centre for trade, finance and tourism," he explained. Thus he had proposed the above change.

The proposal will come into immediate effect under a Public Revenue Protection Order issued today.

End

Transition Budget underpins strong and healthy economy * * * * *

Hong Kong's economy and public finances remain strong and healthy in this historic year of change, the Financial Secretary. Mr Donald Tsang, told the Legislative Council in his annual Budget address today (Wednesday).

Mr Tsang revealed that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government would start life on July 1 with around $330 billion in reserves (including the Land Fund).

He revealed a $15 billion surplus for 1996/97 and forecast a $32 billion surplus for 1997/98.

In a Budget entitled 'Continuity in a 'l ime of Change'. Mr Tsang had good news for tax payers, drivers, property owners and even wine lovers.

Hong Kong's social safety net received a boost, with $126 billion pledged for education, public housing, health and welfare services.

He said the (Joint Liaison Group's) Budget Expert Group had agreed on a 'through Budget' complying with the Basic Law and covering the whole financial year from April 1, 1997 to March 31. 1998.

This ensures public services will continue uninterrupted, with improvements to existing services where necessary.

The Budget also maintains the integrity and continuity of the tax system across the transition and strengthens Hong Kong's financial and economic prospects for the future, said Mr Tsang.

41

"1 have pointed out that no fewer than 70 of the 160 Articles in the Basic Law deal with economic issues or are related to economic development," said Mr Tsang.

"The most important, Article 5, provides that our capitalist system and way of life shall remain unchanged for fifty years.

"We are committed to our role as an international business centre. We are committed to our policy of financial prudence. We will continue to enjoy full autonomy in economic affairs."

In regards to Salaries Tax, Mr Tsang said he had set out to substantially reduce the amount of tax people paid while keeping the number of taxpayers roughly the same.

He said the proposed salaries tax concessions would cost more than $3 billion in 1997-98 and $20 billion up to 2000-01.

Mr Tsang said the forecast $32 billion Budget surplus for the 1997/98 financial year should be treated as an 'exceptional' item, for two reasons.

The first was because additional revenue would come as a result of accounting changes from July 1. 1997, relating to the treatment of income received from land transactions.

"Second, the surplus arises in the year in between funding the new airport and airport railway and investing in the Railway Development Strategy," he said.

Mr Tsang said Hong Kong was experiencing a time of great change.

"But it is also a time to hold fast to our values. To have faith and confidence in ourselves. To look to what we Hong Kong people can do," he said.

"We are the premier centre for international business in the region. We are looking forward to faster economic growth in 1997 than in 1996.

"Our sustained economic growth, our excellent law and order situation and our bright future prospects, mean that we can go on expanding our investment in our infrastructure, our support for business and our housing and social service programmes.

"Many in our community, and among our friends around the world, have a major question in their minds at this time.

"This Budget provides at least a part of the answer: Yes, the future does work."

End

42

Enhancement of information technology education welcomed ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr Joseph W P Wong, welcomed the proposal in the 1997/98 Budget announced by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, that the Government would spend $300 million over the next two years to provide multi-media computers to all public sector primary schools and to set up Information Technology Learning Centres (ITLC) in prevocational and technical schools.

He said: "One of the Government's new initiatives to improve basic education this year is to enhance information technology education.

"To achieve this purpose, each government or aided primary school will be equipped with 15 multi-media computers, which means the provision of a total of 8,250 multi-media computers in all government and aided primary schools to benefit some 411,000 students.

"In addition, computer training courses ranging from 18 to 120 hours will be provided to some 15,200 teachers."

Mr Wong said that the Government would also provide ITLC in all 27 prevocational and 19 secondary technical schools to benefit some 43,000 students.

Each ITLC will be equipped with 41 computers, computer-aided design and manufacturing equipment, and computer-assisted learning packages. In addition, appropriate training will be arranged for teachers.

Mr Wong pointed out the proposal of providing $300 million for the purpose of enhancing information technology education was an important element to coincide with the rapid technology development in Hong Kong and took a big step forward to provide information technology education in local primary and secondary schools.

He reiterated that improvements would be made in seven areas to enhance the development of basic education. Apart from enhancement of the information technology education, the Government will implement new measures to further improve the teaching and learning environment, support services for new arrival children, quality of school education, special education, language proficiency and civic education.

End

43

Quotable quotes in the Budget speech 1997/98 *****

Following are some of the quotable quotes in the Budget Speech 1997/98 delivered by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

INTRODUCTION

An Historic Occasion

"1997 is a very special year for Hong Kong. The eyes of the world will be upon us as we set out on our historic journey." (Para 2)

"The Budget 1 am presenting this afternoon is unique because it is a transitional one, a Budget specially designed to meet the circumstances of 1997. It must respond to the far-reaching consequences of the resumption of the exercise of sovereignty and the creation of the Special Administrative Region. This Budget seeks to fulfil that historic mission." (Para 5)

A PROCESS OF CONSULTATION

The Joint Liaison Group,

"The Budget Expert Group has worked throughout in a co-operative spirit. Its discussions have been pragmatic and constructive. And it has reached rapid consensus at every stage." (Para 10)

"We wanted to achieve a Budget that would cover the entire financial year from 1 April 1997 to 31 March 1998; a budget which was financially sound and prudent and which would take into account the interests of all." (Para 11)

"We wanted to ensure that our public services would continue smoothly, uninterrupted by the transition." (Para 11)

"We wanted to ensure that there would be no room for doubt about the continuity of the tax system." (Para 11)

"We wanted to draw up a Budget which would strengthen Hong Kong’s financial and economic prospects for the future." (Para 11)

44

THE CONSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK

"Article 5 of the Basic Law is a clear pledge that Hong Kong will continue to enjoy free, open and competitive markets which are not controlled by state planning or state direction." (Para 14)

A Centre for International Business

"In recent years, our performance as an international business centre has won very high marks from independent and prestigious authorities such as the International Monetary Fund and the Heritage Foundation." (Para 17)

"The Basic Law offers a commitment to Hong Kong's continuing role as a centre for international business." (Para 18)

Financial Prudence

"Living within our means has been a fundamental principle of our public finances for at least fifty years." (Para 20)

"Avoiding budget deficits is a well-established tradition. In nine of the last ten years, we actually achieved a budget surplus." (Para 20)

"In the five financial years since 1991. growth in government expenditure and GDP were identical in real terms at 30 per cent." (Para 20)

Economic Autonomy

"The Basic Law promises that Hong Kong's best practices will continue into the future. It enshrines in law Hong Kong's winning formula for economic success in the past. It will prove even more important in ensuring our future prosperity." (Para 23)

"As the world's eighth largest trading economy, the ninth largest exporter of services and the fifth largest foreign exchange market, it is vital for Hong Kong that our voice is heard in the deliberations of international bodies.. The British and

the Chinese Sides have agreed the necessary arrangements to continue Hong Kong's separate membership of such bodies from I July in accordance with the Basic Law." (Para 24)

45

CONTINUITY AND CHANGE: MEETING ECONOMIC NEEDS

”A major reason we have almost doubled our GDP in real terms since 1984 is the momentum of economic development in the mainland of China over this period. Hong Kong has been uniquely placed to take the fullest advantage of the business opportunities created by economic modernisation and the "open door" policies." (Para 26)

"Hong Kong has long had a clear understanding between the Government and the business community that business decisions are best left to entrepreneurs and investors. The Government's job is to provide the right environment for business to grow." (Para 27)

Future Forecasts

"We are forecasting for this year 5.5 per cent real growth in GDP, 8.5 per cent increase in merchandise exports and 8 per cent increase in exports of service, and 7 per cent increase in inflation." (Para 28)

"1997 promises to be another year of sound, sustainable growth. This will ensure solid growth in employment, new business opportunities and good profits across the economy as a whole." (Para 29)

"To contain the pressures on our labour and land resources, we will have to continue our battle against inflation. This underlines the importance of the Government maintaining the tightest control over public spending and pursuing maximum value for money throughout the public sector." (Para 29)

Helping Business

"Hong Kong thrives by deliberately leaving as much room as possible for enterprise and innovation." (Para 30)

Services Promotion

"I intend to form a new high level Services Promotion Strategy Group to give an overall steer on the way to make sure Hong Kong remains the services centre par excellence in the region, and indeed the world." (Para 38)

New Unit

"I propose to create a new unit to take responsibility for both Helping Business and Services Promotion. It will not be some far flung quango. It will be part of my own office and its head will report directly to me." (Para 39)

46

CONTINUITY AND CHANGE: MEETING THE COMMUNITY'S NEEDS

Housing; Improving the Supply

"Over the last five years, in partnership with the Housing Authority, we have increased spending on housing by 34 per cent in real terms." (Para 43)

Improvements in Key Services

"Unlike most advanced economies, Hong Kong has not had to increase the burden on the taxpayer in responding to the public's rising expectations. On the contrary, we have been able to reduce taxation while at the same time making significant improvements. We have been able to afford these because our economic growth has generated the necessary wealth to do so." (Para 48)

Education; Investing in Quality

"In education, our priority must be to maintain and upgrade the quality." (Para 50)

"In 1997-98, our total expenditure on Education will exceed $45 billion ( an increase of7.7 percent in real terms over 1996-97." (Para 51)

Language Skills

"Language skills are vital to our success as a Special Administrative Region of China, as well as our role as an international centre for business." (Para 55)

A Caring Community

"Our society has remained loyal to its traditional values. Families do all they can to look after their elderly members, those with a disability or the relative who is sick." (Para 59)

"We have increased our expenditure on welfare by 88 per cent in real terms over the past five years. It will increase by a further 9.1 per cent in 1997-98 to $21.2 billion." (Para 60)

The Elderly

"We are constantly improving our continuum of care for elderly people." (Para

61)

47

Others in Need

"In 1996-97, we are spending $7 billion on CSSA ( an increase of 35 per cent in real terms over 1995-96 and we expect a further increase of 11 per cent in real terms in 1997-98.” (Para 63)

New.. Armais

”In 1997-98, we will spend a total of around $168 million on children of new arrivals ( an increase of over 150 per cent in real terms over 1996-97." (Para 67)

Law and Order

"Hong Kong is a much safer place to live and work than other major cities like London, New York, Tokyo or Toronto." (Para 68)

"This is an Administration which is very conscious of the community’s concerns and which will indeed strive to do more." (Para 70)

PUBLIC FINANCES

"We will start life as a Special Administrative Region in an extremely favourable position." (Para 71)

The 1996-97 Outturn

"1 am now forecasting a surplus for 1996-97 of $15.1 billion." (Para 72)

The..l227z2-8 Estimates

"I am forecasting an overall budget surplus for 1997-98 of $31.7 billion." (Para 80)

Medium Range Forecast

"The SAR Government may well need to contribute $49 billion between 1998 and 2001 towards the construction of the high priority projects under the Railway Development Strategy." (Para 83)

48

REVENUE PROPOSALS

"Our revenue arrangements should support Hong Kong's role as a centre for international business, and they should reflect our commitment to financial prudence and economic autonomy." (Para 87)

Areas of No Change

Tax Relief for Housing

"It would be wrong in principle to create a general tax concession, regardless of the individual family's needs, to cover investment in housing." (Para 89)

"Any help which the Government provides to promote home ownership should be given specially to those families which need such assistance." (Para 90)

"Between 1991 and 1996, the number of households owning their own home rose by 22 per cent. Today, more than 50 per cent of households own their own home." (Para 90)

Profits Tax

"By comparison with our competitors in the region, our level of Profits Tax is already very low. We are still highly competitive even when we look at their effective tax rates." (Para 92)

A Dividend for the Community

Salaries Tax

"1 believe that, given our strong financial position, it is right to reduce Salaries Tax once again." (Para 97)

"In a caring community which respects traditional family values, the tax system should recognise the special difficulties faced by single parents or families caring for relatives, particularly those with a disability." (Para 98)

"A married couple with two children will have to earn over $100,000 a month, or more than $1.2 million a year, before they pay salaries tax at the standard rate of 15 per cent." (Para 102)

49

Rates

"I propose that the overall rates percentage charge should be reduced from 5.5 per cent to 5 per cent. This is an historic low.” (Para 107)

"Lower rates for business firms are another contribution to ensuring Hong Kong is as user-friendly as possible to business, thus reinforcing our role as an international business centre." (Para 111)

Stamp Duty on Property Transactions

"I propose to adjust the threshold values for the various Stamp Duty bands to benefit those buying flats with a value of $4 million or less." (Para 115)

Driving Licences

"To make life easier for drivers, 1 propose to issue driving licences valid for 10 years and charge $900 for such a licence. This is good value for money." (Para 118 and 119)

Duty on Alcoholic Beverages

"I propose to reduce wine duty from 90 per cent to 60 per cent. I am looking to shops, restaurants and hotels to pass on this duty reduction to their consumers." (Para 125)

CONCLUSION

"We are committed to our role as an international business centre. We are committed to our policy of financial prudence. We will continue to enjoy full autonomy in economic affairs." (Para 128)

"This is a time of great change for us. But it is also a time for us to hold fast to our values. To have faith and confidence in ourselves. To look to what we Hong Kong people can do." (Para 137)

"Many in our community, and among our friends around the world, have a major question in their minds at this time. This Budget provides at least a part of the answer: Yes. the future does work." (Para 138)

End

50

Financial Secretary's TV broadcast *****

Following is the full text of the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang’s TV Broadcast on the Budget speech today (Wednesday):

Good evening,

This afternoon I presented the Government's annual budget to the Legislative Council. Nothing unusual in that, you might say. But this is after all 1997, the year when many things in Hong Kong are scheduled to change.

It is the year in which we cease to be a dependent territory under British Administration. It is the year in which we become a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.

At a time when such great changes are afoot, and in particular when the eyes of the world are watching us closely, I thought it would be useful to remind everyone just how many things are set to remain the same. Hence the title of my Budget Speech: Continuity in a Time of Change.

The Budget covers a full financial year from 1 April to 31 March. As usual. It forecasts continuing real growth in our economy, and sturdy public finances. As usual. Our taxes remain low, simple and predictable. As usual.

Our continuing success means we generate the wealth to meet the community’s expectations for improvements in housing, education, welfare, healthcare, and law and order. This year we will spend over $200 billion for the first time: $45 billion on education; $28 billion on health; $21 billion on welfare. And, together with the Housing Authority, over $32 billion on housing programmes.

This shows we are a caring community. A community which puts its money where its heart is. But we do not allow our hearts to rule our heads. Money for the improvements we make comes from economic growth, not deficit budgets. So we have no debts and we can keep our taxes low.

Which brings me to the .other half of the Budget: revenue. There are a few minor increases in duty. But everywhere else we will be reducing taxes. Altogether I have proposed concessions of over $5 billion. On salaries tax, I am increasing the personal allowance from $90,000 to $100,000. I am also overhauling the marginal tax bands. This means a family of four earning $22,000 per month will pay less than $20 a month in tax. Altogether, 96% of our salaries taxpayers will benefit. The rates percentage charge will be reduced to an all time low of 5%. About 50,000 homebuyers at the lower end of the market will pay less Stamp Duty. As you can see, the main beneficiaries will be sandwich class taxpayers and ratepayers.

1

- 51 -

All in all a pretty impressive package. But I know there will be some who say we should have gone further. With a surplus this year of $15 billion, and a forecast for the coming year of over $30 billion, they will say we should have gone on a spending spree. Or had a real giveaway on the tax side.

This might seem attractive, but it would have been wrong. What has brought us to our present position of strength is the firm discipline of keeping increases in government spending in line with GDP growth. If we were to abandon that discipline, it would become impossible to hold the line. On the tax side I have tried to strike a balance. We must make sure the new SAR Government starts life in the strongest possible financial position. At the same time, you the people of Hong Kong are entitled to enjoy a dividend from the success you have created. I hope you will agree that we have got the balance about right.

This is a unique Budget for a special year. We are living through a time of change. But we can face the challenges this brings because we have the confidence that our way of life will continue. We are privileged to be part of history in the making. And together we will make our future work.

Thank you and good night.

End

Financial Secretary to take calls from the public

*****

Members of the public will have the opportunity to express their views on the Budget proposals for 1997/98 to the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, direct through phone-in programmes tomorrow (Thursday) and on Saturday.

The Financial Secretary will take questions from callers to RTHK Radio 1 and 5’s "Talkabaout" and Radio 3’s "Hong Kong Today" programmes from 7.45 am to 9.00 am tomorrow.

After attending RTHK’s programme. Mr Tsang will brief chairmen of the two municipal councils and 18 district boards on the 1997/98 Budget at 10 am at the Home Affairs Department Headquarters.

52

In the afternoon, he will give his second press conference at 3 pm in the Press Conference Room of the Information Services Department, 7th floor, Murray Building.

On Friday (March 14), Mr Tsang will brief Legislative Councillors at 10 am at the Legislative Council.

On Saturday (March 15), he will take calls again from the public in a Commercial Radio-l's phone-in programme from 9.30 am to 11 am.

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Thursday, March 13, 1997

Contents Page No,

Transcript of FS’s press conference........................................ 1

CS: Hong Kong must respond to changes...................................... 8

Application for leave by prisoner......................................... 10

DBs consulted on traffic measures for fireworks display............... 11

Hong Kong’s external trade statistics for January 1997 ................... 13

Tickets only on GH Azaleas Day for wheelchair users....................... 23

Consultation on revised English Language Syllabus......................... 23

Insider Dealing Tribunal submits report................................... 24

1

Transcript of FS's press conference *****

Following is the transcript of the press conference on the 1997/98 Budget by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang; and the Secretary for the Treasury, Mr K C Kwong, at GIS press conference room this afternoon (Thursday):

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): So today we meet again to talk about the Budget. I hope that - and actually it has already happened - both the members of the public as well as members of LegCo have already expressed certain views with regard to my Budget yesterday. And so today we are to meet the press members again - it would be helpful.

Response has been made by members of the public, the press as well as LegCo, on my Budget and some of them are criticisms while others are favourable and I think the response revolves around two main themes. First we have a large surplus, why don’t we spend it? And if we are not spending it, are we being too miserly? And secondly, for CSSA, why is it that it has not been increased? I think these are the two main themes most of the responses centred around.

About our prudent fiscal management policy, actually we have put a lot of effort into such a policy over the years and the surplus is the result of that policy. And the reason why we have such large reserves is that the years of prudent fiscal management have enabled us to suppress inflation and we could contain government spending so that the civil service is efficient and it is not unwieldy. The result of such efforts is the surplus as well as the reserves.

We have our own fiscal management philosophy because over the years we have been keeping the increase in government spending within the trend economic growth rate and this is a philosophy that we have been applying all along.

Now, with regard to the CSSA for the elderly, in the past few years, especially with regard to recurrent expenditure, the figure has been on the increase every year and for the past five years the real term growth in welfare spending is over 80%. That is discounting inflation. Three years ago we revamped the CSSA system and over the past three years the real term growth is over 90%. And if we use 97/98 as a reference point, recurrent welfare spending accounts for over 10% of total public expenditure and I think this level is acceptable and is satisfactory.

As I have explained yesterday, for this year we have already exhausted all the room for manoeuvre within the 5% growth in public sector spending and if we were to increase further spending on welfare it would mean either we would have to take away from other areas of expenditure or we have to do away with our fiscal management philosophy. In other words we have to allow the 5% spending limit to be exceeded.

2

And if we look at it from a selfish point of view, if we look at it from a shortsighted point of view, maybe some sectors would feel that this is actually a good thing. But as a responsible government we believe that this is undesirable. As I said earlier on, if we do it, even if we are to do it only once, then we are going against our own principle. Article 107 of the Basic Law aside, even if we were allowed to do so under the Basic Law, all international investors and all local investors would lose confidence in us because we are showing to those people that we do not abide by our principles and that would have dire consequences.

We are now projecting the future surplus basing on economic growth rate and if we are to trample on our own fiscal management policy then I am sure our economic performance will be affected. And if that happens would we be able to shoulder financially large infrastructural development projects? And also our recurrent spending will suffer. Even if we are to keep the present level of recurrent spending it would cause difficulties and so that would be quite undesirable. And that is why I believe we have to be very, very careful about this.

And also, in my Budget Speech I already mentioned that it is not that we are totally neglecting the CSSA and other services. That's not the case at all. We will keep improving upon them and I am sure the SARG will continue to make efforts to look after those who are vulnerable in our community.

Looking at our own reserves, after the transition we will review our reserves, we will review the size of it and we will think of ways to invest it and I am sure Mr Tung and my own team will be looking at this. I don’t want to say anything further, I just wish to make an initial response to the views expressed so far on my Budget and I hope that the press will look deeper into the relevant philosophies and the theories.

Question 1 (in Chinese): Concerning the increase of tax allowances, would you be worried that the tax bands would be narrower? And also, would it affect the stability of the tax regime?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): As I said in my Budget Speech, although the tax bands have been adjusted and the tax allowances have been raised, however at present those who are paying taxes are economically very active and so they have a higher capability of increasing their income than the average person and so even if they leave the tax net for a year it is highly probable that next year they will join the tax net again. And so our present proposed adjustment to the tax bands and tax allowances would not affect the tax net or the tax base and we believe that this is already a conservative approach. Just now I am asked whether there will be dire consequences. I don’t believe so.

3

Question 2 (in Chinese): I would like to ask about land supply. In your Budget Speech you mentioned that land supply is a long term thing but what about short to medium term? Your Budget Speech mentions that in the near term there is still pressure for property prices to go up but we don’t see any special measures in order to dampen speculation. So are you going to allow property prices to continue to rise in the coming couple of years?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): Indeed there is some pressure in the market. Probably in the coming couple of years the supply will still not be as abundant as the time further beyond that, however the supply will increase by 46% over the next five years. And as I said, I am going to get together with my colleagues and we will try to find ways in order to streamline our internal procedures and then also to see whether we can put together a further increase in supply beyond the increase of 46%. And there are other things we could do. Of course those will be administrative measures and if there is evidence to show that speculation is getting out of control we will put together administrative measures which can happen very soon. It could happen within one day. We could make an announcement within one day and so no speculation is called for on what we are going to do.

And also, the government has some quarters and the government has its own Home Purchase Scheme for the civil service and that is why some of the quarters have been vacated. And in 1997 we can put into the market for sale large residential flats numbering 400 and that should relieve property prices somewhat.

Question 3: Mr Tsang, could you outline what, if any, risks there are to changes in the Budget following the handover, from the provisional legislature? Is that a legitimate concern, that there could be some changes?

Mr Donald Tsang: As far as I am concerned my top priority at the moment is to secure the agreement of the Legislative Council to my Budget. I am working one step at a time, like Mr Tung said. I think this is the best tactic for the time being. But we must all remember, the Budget I am proposing to the legislature now is one which has been agreed by an expert group set up under the Joint Liaison Group. In other words it has been agreed by Hong Kong Government, prepared by the Hong Kong Government, and agreed also by the Chinese Government. It has been a joint enterprise. So for that reason, I am reasonably confident that it will command the support of the Chinese side as well as the Chief Executive. So there you are. My priority, as I said, is to try to get my LegCo to agree it for the time being.

Question 4 (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, you said that in the coming year you have large civil service quarters being put out but the speculation in the market is about large flats and this speculation may go down to medium and small flats. And in your Budget you say that the stamp duty for flats below $4 million will be relaxed. But you said that last year, upon the relaxation, the property prices more or less offset the concession. Do you have confidence that this proposal this time can really ease the situation about small flats below $4 million?

4

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): Well, you more or less have answered your own question. I think your main point is this. That is whether our threshold of $4 million is useful. Actually, we want to encourage people to purchase homes. We want to reduce stamp duty and we think that for the small and medium priced flats that will be useful, especially for HOS flats and the small flats. I think we can help people ease their burden and it is good if they can purchase homes. It is very simple, that is our objective.

Question 5: Mr Tsang, as Hong Kong's $32 billion dollar man, are you under any sort of pressure? On the radio this morning there were a lot of calls that were expressing outrage and even shame that there was this much money and some of the people on the fringes of society weren't being addressed. Are you under any pressure and what is your reaction to this sort of bubbling outrage, even from some supporters of the Budget? The Liberal Party, for example, yesterday, while they supported the Budget demanded that Mr Tung take some action for people on the fringes. Can you react to that?

Mr Donald Tsang: Well it is, I think, part of the job to be under pressure as Financial Secretary in Hong Kong. But in fact I quite enjoyed today's exchange on the radio programme, I didn’t hear any outrage, nor did I think I was told to be ashamed of myself this morning. I hope we were listening to the same programme.

I have explained already in the Budget that the coming year's surplus is rather exceptional. I am sure Mr Kwong is more eloquent than me in explaining this. It is rather exceptional in that we are changing accounting arrangements for our land sale receipts this year and we credited to Hong Kong General Revenue the entire land sale receipts and premium payments because we no longer shared it out with the Land Fund. And at the same time we are also in receipt of the Land Fund. So all these things come into play. I do not feel ashamed of ourselves and I have said that I am very proud that we have been acting in a conservative manner at this critical time and we have to make sure that the SAR Government at its time of birth will be in a very strong and robust financial position. I don't know whether Mr Kwong has anything to add to that.

Mr K C Kwong: Not really.

Question 6 (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, is it that there will be 400 civil service units to be taken out to the market? Now if these are sold what money will you get and won't that stimulate the speculation of large flats?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): We are not trying to encash the revenue in this regard, we have enough finances. We just want to add to the supply. Now if you add to the supply, according to economic theory the prices will stabilise. We don't believe that getting more supply will stimulate speculation. If we have more supply speculation can be dampened.

5

Question 7: Mr Tsang, my question pertains to the size of the surplus and to the railroad development scheme. Your surplus for this year came in at a bit over $15 billion. Some people had predicted between 24 and 25 (billion). But I notice that in the MTRC Annual Report there is deferred profit of $9 billion. I am wondering why that wasn’t returned to the government as a dividend and I am wondering if it wasn’t returned as a dividend because it would have ballooned the size of your surplus?

Mr Donald Tsang: I think that conspiracy theories abound on the accounting arrangement. I have never said about 20 or 25 billion dollars. That has been speculated in the media. I’m sorry in disappointing you by some more reliable forecasts we have made for the coming year. Our forecast is about $15 billion for 1996/97. As far as the dividend from our various corporations is concerned, they give it to me at the time which they think fit. These are statutory bodies not entirely within my control but I can assure you, Francis, there has been no conspiracy at all -deliberately trying to fiddle our books for the purpose.

Question 8: I am not suggesting that there was a conspiracy Mr Tsang. I am just wondering whether in fact if it had come over it would have pushed up the size of the surplus and added pressure to you. But the second and perhaps more important point?

Mr Donald Tsang: Okay, well my colleagues have volunteered to talk about the MTRC. Let me say this. I just want to say that these investments have been made -unexpected revenue to come to Hong Kong Government. But you see what is the point of deferring a statement? If I did that, if I deferred it, it would just further increase the surplus I am forecasting for 1997/98. In other words the chicken will certainly come home to roost at some stage wouldn’t it?

Mr K C Kwong: On the MTRC profits, in fact I think you are'referring to the upfront payment they have received for the property development along the airport railway. But because of the need to abide by the accounting rules established by the Hong Kong Society of Accountants not all of the up front payments can be recognised in the books in the current year, they can only be recognised in phases depending on the progress of the works. So they have already recognised in their books as much as they could but not all of the many billion dollars could be recognised and therefore in assessing the dividend that we should demand from them we can only take into account the profits which they can recognise.

Mr Donald Tsang: There you are. From the mouth of the Director of the MTRC Board.

6

Question 9: But the implication would be, sir, that if they had this much equity in hand and that is not all the equity they have in hand, they would have tremendous borrowing power, even more than they had at the time you were discussing the airport when they said they could build it on their own money and borrowing without ever coming to the government to begin with. So I am wondering why they just don't use that equity and their borrowing power to build the railroad instead of you having to put aside all this money equal to the potential costing of it over the next three years?

Mr K C Kwong: But Francis, you have got a fallacy there. If the money cannot be recognised in their books as profits it is not money which is usable. It is not even equity.

Question 10 (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, after the changeover if Mr C H Tung wants to proceed with certain welfare projects or other public schemes will the present financial reserves be enough to support all these schemes?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): I don't want to answer these hypothetical questions. As I said, we do have an objective. That is, when the SAR is set up Hong Kong can have very healthy finances and can have a cushion, and we hope that this can be achieved.

Question 11 (in Chinese): About the reduction of stamp duty for flats under $4 million, you mentioned that for these flats, these small and medium sized flats, most of them are usually HOS flats. I would like to know how did you arrive at that conclusion, how did you arrive at the conclusion that flats under $4 million are mostly HOS flats?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): I am saying that we are trying to assist those who are buying these small and medium size flats so that they will find it easier to become home-buyers and we believe that most of these flats are HOS and PSPS flats. Of course some of them are private flats. But even if they are private flats they will be in the lower and middle end of the market and they need our assistance more.

Question 12 (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, some LegCo members feel that since you are sitting on such large surplus you could afford to freeze fees and charges for government services. What do you have to say about that and how do you think it would impact on the government's revenue?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): I think we have to exercise discipline when it comes to fiscal management and if there is one day when we give up all our discipline it would not be wise on our part. And I am sure LegCo members will also treat this wisely. As I said, the reason why we have such a size of reserves is because of all the years of prudent fiscal management that we have effected and if we throw all of these philosophies out of the window, including abandoning the users pay principle, then the consequence would not be desirable.

7

Question 13 (in Chinese): Last year you projected for the reserves and surplus for 97/98. Now if you compare this to your present estimate for next year's surplus and reserves you find that there is an increase of over $30 billion. Why is it that this year's estimate shows a larger sum than last year's estimate? Is it because of your estimate of reduction in spending for non-recurrent projects?

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): I think my Budget Speech has already mentioned this and it is because of non-recurrent revenues increase, especially with regard to stamp duty and land revenue and under-spending and so on and so forth.

Question 14 (in Chinese): But that is for 97/98, not 96/97. Last year your Budget also projected the reserves for 97/98 to be reaching $320 billion but this year your estimate is $360 billion. There is a difference of $40 billion.

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): But the total is a cumulative figure. It is rolled on year on year and so what is in 96/97 will be added on in 97/98.

Reporter (in Chinese): But that should only show an increase of over $10 billion.

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): But what you said should mention the Land Fund. In 96/97, Mr Tsang in his Budget Speech then already mentioned clearly that because of the surplus in 96/97 the 96/97 surplus is $14 billion and for 96/97, if you look at land sales revenue it also showed an increase of over $20 billion over the original estimate. The over $20 billion in 96/97 is not totally reflected in the books in 96/97 because we have to share it with the Land Fund and that is why it is reflected only in 97/98, and together they already make over $30 billion. And just now you mentioned over $40 billion and so most of the $40 billion comes from the $30 billion and the minority of it comes from under-spending in the Capital Works Fund.

Reporter (in Chinese): But that only accounts for a small proportion but the difference is over $10 billion.

Mr K C Kwong (in Chinese): The two major figures are the ones I mentioned but of course there are other more minor figures.

Question 15 (in Chinese): Mr Tsang, you always stress that we should exercise discipline in fiscal management but you also said that the reserves should be at a level where one year’s expenditure can be financed.

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): This year the annual expenditure is over $200 billion. The fiscal reserve is only about $190 billion.

Question 16 (in Chinese): But what about the Land Fund?

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Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): The Land Fund only comes into play after 1 July 1997 and so we have to take it one step at a time.

Moderator (in Chinese): The press conference has already ended.

Mr Donald Tsang (in Chinese): I think that question has been dealt with this morning many, many times.

End

CS: Hong Kong must respond to changes *****

The Chief Secretary, Mrs Anson Chan, said this (Thursday) evening that Hong Kong, as a living metropolis, must respond to changes that we see all around us but at the same time we must have the wisdom and the courage to resist attempts to change what must not be changed.

Speaking at the dinner of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries, Mrs Chan urged Hong Kong people to stand united in our resolve to make the "one country, two systems” concept work.

The rule of law, respect for the individual, civil liberties, freedom of expression, of assembly, a level playing field, a meritocratic, politically neutral civil service, open and transparent in its dealings and accountable to the community and to the legislature - these are the values and systems which have produced the Hong Kong that we all know and love, she said.

”We must cling fast to them if Hong Kong is to retain its position in the world league as we move towards the 21st century."

"We have spent the last 13 years putting together this foundation that will enable the HKSAR to exercise a high degree of autonomy," she said.

Mrs Chan told the audience that on the political front, Hong Kong had seen a number of major developments in the last three months.

First and foremost was the election of the Chief Executive of the HKSAR last December. "Mr C H Tung of course needs no introduction. His appointment has been very well received here,” she said.

”We are doing all we can to assist Mr Tung in preparing for the establishment of the SAR Government."

9

Another major development is the appointment by Mr Tung of his Executive Council. As the highest policy-making body in Hong Kong, the SAR Executive Council will play a key role in mapping out our future plans beyond the transition, she said.

The nomination of principal officials on February 20 marked yet another major step in preparing for the establishment of the SARG on July 1.

"The news that all eligible serving principal officials are re-appointed to their existing posts and the announcement on the new Secretary for Justice and the new Commissioner, ICAC have all been very well received by the community and the wider investing public."

She added that it also bodes well for continuity of our existing systems and policies after 1997.

Mrs Chan said that even one year ago, no one could have expected that Hong Kong would be in such a good shape in the final lap of the transition.

"Economically, we are doing very well. For most businessmen and international investors, 1997 has come and gone. We expect a steady growth of 5 per cent per annum in our GDP in the medium term. Inflation has moderated considerably in the last twelve months and unemployment has dropped back to around 2.6 per cent."

IMF not only considers that Hong Kong’s macroeconomic conditions are healthy, but it also gives firm and clear endorsement of the continuation of Hong Kong’s existing policy framework, namely prudent fiscal policy, the linked exchange rate system and firm financial regulation, she said.

The Chief Secretary expected that the remaining 100 odd days would be no less trying and challenging than what we had experienced in the final years of the transition.

Despite the hard work of both the British and Chinese Governments, there are still a number of important transitional issues that remain to be resolved, she said.

These include crucial questions like the right of abode, our bilateral civil aviation links, localisation of laws, reciprocal enforcement of judgements, etc.

"We are re-doubling our efforts in the hope that we could complete most of the outstanding work at the next JLG meeting. But we need cooperation from both sides and are acutely aware that time is running out."

10

Speaking on Hong Kong as an enterprise environment, she said the best industrial development policy for Hong Kong was one that reflected its basic economic philosophy, namely that the market was the best means of determining the most efficient allocation of the factors of production: land, labour and capital.

This policy was driven by three considerations, she said.

The first is Hong Kong’s openness and the complete exposure of our industries to international competition.

Secondly, business decisions are best left to business people and thirdly government should confine its role to providing what the market is unable to or not good at providing.

End

Application for leave by prisoner *****

In response to press enquiries on the case of a prisoner detained under Her Majesty’s Pleasure regarding his application of leave of absence, the Correctional Services Department today (Thursday) issued the following statement:

’’The Commissioner of Correctional Services, Mr Raymond Lai Ming-kee, expressed his sympathy towards the prisoner detained under Her Majesty's Pleasure, whose parents were killed in a traffic accident in Yuen Long on March 6.

His case has attracted public interest and sympathy. In the past several days, the Correctional Services Department (CSD) has received appeals from different people including some LegCo members to allow him to attend the parents’ funeral service.

In fact, the prisoner himself has already applied to the department for leave to attend his parents’ funeral service and his application is being sympathetically considered.

The department is in touch with the family. However, according to the CSD spokesman details will not be publicised in order to respect the privacy of the prisoner and the family, as well as for consideration of security.”

End

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DBs consulted on traffic measures for fireworks display *****

District boards and members of the public will be consulted on the Government's preliminary proposal on crowd control, special traffic and public transport arrangements for the official opening ceremony of the Lantau Link.

A spokesman for the New Airport Projects Co-ordination Office (NAPCO) said today (Thursday) that the highlight of the opening ceremony will be a 20-minute long fireworks display which will start at 8 pm on Sunday, April 27.

The spokesman said that since large crowds may turn up at Castle Peak Road and its adjacent beaches and Tsing Yi to view the fireworks, special crowd control, traffic and transport arrangements have been proposed by an inter-departmental working group to ensure public safety.

"Every effort will be made to minimise the inconvenience caused by traffic diversion and road closure but we appeal to residents in the affected areas to bear with us and help us to make the opening ceremony of the Lantau Link, Hong Kong's newest landmark, an occasion to remember," said the spokesman.

He said that those members of the public wishing to watch the display from the nearest vantage point at Castle Peak Road should, however, be aware that although special arrangements will be in place on the day, there could still be lengthy hold-ups along the roads after the event if the numbers turning up are large.

Members of the public may wish to consider the alternative of watching the fireworks display on television rather than have to face the prospect of lengthy delays before getting home that night.

The spokesman said that the special measures had been drawn up after taking into account the following factors:

the need to ensure public safety at various locations, especially along the stretch of Castle Peak Road facing the Lantau Link and the adjacent beaches;

* the need to minimise inconvenience to local residents who live at these viewing points or their vicinity as well as the travelling public who may have to use the connecting road network;

* the need to disperse large crowds who may turn up at these viewing points on April 27 as expeditiously as possible; and

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* the experience gained during the recent Gold Coast fireworks display on crowd control and public transportation arrangements.

In a consultation paper to district boards, the Government said that part of a preliminary proposal on special arrangements recommended by the interdepartmental working group was that the section of Castle Peak Road between Hoi On Road and Siu Lam Interchange should be closed to traffic and reserved for pedestrians only from 5 pm to around midnight. Adjoining roads in the area will also be closed to traffic.

Arrangements will be made to provide access within the closed section of Castle Peak Road for emergency vehicles.

The spokesman said that the inter-departmental working group comprised, among others, representatives from the Police, Transport, Home Affairs and Marine Departments as well as NAPCO.

He said that road safety in the section of Tuen Mun Road between Hoi On Road and Siu Lam Interchange is a particular concern when the fireworks display is about to take place.

"Past experience shows that most drivers would slow down or even stop their vehicles to watch the fireworks display, thus causing potential hazards to themselves and other vehicles," he said.

To deal with this problem, it is proposed that traffic on Tuen Mun Road be regulated from 7.30 pm onwards and all traffic will be stopped from 7.30 pm to 8.20 pm to ensure public safety.

As for Tsing Yi island, the intention is to avoid road closures as far as possible but the Police may have to stop traffic on a section of Tsing Yi Road West between Ching Hong Road and Sai Tso Wan Road if the situation calls for it.

The Kowloon Motor Bus Company and the Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation will provide 440 buses to run special services to disperse the crowds after the fireworks display. These buses will pick up passengers from designated boarding points on Castle Peak Road to either the Tsuen Wan MTR Station or the Tuen Mun Ferry Light Rail Transit Terminus.

It is estimated that the buses will be able to carry 50,000 spectators within the first two hours after the display.

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To speed up the dispersal, it is proposed that the Kowloon-bound carriageway of Castle Peak Road, from its junction with Hoi On Road to Tsuen Wan, be pedestrianised so that spectators can walk to the Tsuen Wan MTR Station if they choose to do so. The station is between 3 km to 8.5 km away from the two extremes of the closed area on Castle Peak Road and the walk is estimated to take two hours.

The MTR and LRT services will be strengthened and service hours lengthened until all spectators are dispersed. Ferry services running between Tsuen Wan and Central will also be reinforced, if necessary.

In terms of marine traffic, the inter-departmental working group has made a number of proposals. These include the closure of the Ma Wan Channel from about 2 pm to 10.30 pm.

The proposed crowd control, transport and traffic arrangements will be finalised after consultation with the Tsuen Wan, Kwai Tsing, Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Islands District Boards and the local communities representing Castle Peak Road residents.

Representatives from the departments concerned briefed the Kwai Tsing District Board on the arrangements today.

The public and in particular residents of the affected districts will be given advance notice of these arrangements nearer the time.

End

Hong Kong's external trade statistics for January 1997 *****

In January 1997, the value of re-exports grew by 0.9% over a year earlier to $102.1 billion, while the value of domestic exports decreased by 9.1% to $17.3 billion. Meanwhile, imports increased by 1.1% to $131.8 billion.

External trade figures tend to show greater volatility in the first two months of each year. The small growth in both imports and re-exports in January 1997 was likely to have been affected by the different timing of the Lunar New Year Holidays in 1996 and 1997 and the high base of comparison resulting from the strong growth in external trade in January 1996. Thus it should be more meaningful to make comparison based on the figures for January and February combined, when the latter figures become available towards the end of this month.

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I’he Census and Statistics Department today (Thursday) released detailed statistics on external trade with breakdown by country/territory and commodity for January 1997.

Changes in the value of Hong Kong’s re-exports to ten main destinations are shown in Table 1.

Comparing January 1997 with January 1996, increases were recorded in the value of re-exports to the United States (+11%), the Netherlands (+9.1%) Singapore (+6.9%), Taiwan (+4.4%), Japan (+3.6%), South Korea (+1.6%), the United Kingdom (+1.0%) and France (+0.6%).

However, the value of re-exports to Germany and China decreased by 8.6% and 1.8% respectively.

As the external trade figures for a single month at the beginning of each year tend to be fluctuating due to effects of the Lunar New Year holidays, it is more meaningful to make comparisons over a longer period.

Comparing the three months ending January 1997 with the three months ending January 1996, increases were recorded in the value of re-exports to Singapore (+14%), the United States (+11%), China (+6.4%), the Netherlands (+4.7%), France (+2.8%), the United Kingdom (+1.9%), Taiwan (+1.1%) and Japan (+0.6%).

However, the value of re-exports to Germany and South Korea decreased by 9.4% and 4.3% respectively.

Table 2 shows changes in the value of re-exports of ten principal commodity divisions.

Comparing the three months ending January 1997 with the three months ending January 1996, more notable increases in the value of re-exports were registered for office machines and automatic data processing machines (by $4.2 billion or 25%); electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (by $1.5 billion or 5.0%); clothing (by $1.3 billion or 5.6%); travel goods, handbags and similar containers (by $825 million or 9.7%); footwear (by $596 million or 3.7%); and miscellaneous manufactured articles consisting mainly of baby carriages, toys, games and sporting goods (by $355 million or 1.1%).

Over the same period, a more notable decrease in the value of re-exports was registered for plastics in primary forms (by $1.4 billion or 17%).

Changes in the value of domestic exports to ten main destinations are shown in Table 3.

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Comparing January 1997 with January 1996, increases were recorded in the value of domestic exports to the Netherlands (+14%), France (+13%) and the United Kingdom (+1.5%).

However, decreases were recorded in the value of domestic exports to Singapore (-31%), Taiwan (-25%), Canada (-17%), the United States (-14%), Germany (-7.7%), Japan (-6.8%) and China (-4.0%).

Comparing the three months ending January 1997 with the three months ending January 1996, the value of domestic exports to France and China increased by 2.0% and 0.7% respectively.

However, decreases were recorded in the value of domestic exports to Singapore (-27%), Taiwan (-20%), Canada (-14%), Japan (-9.8%), the United States (-9.3%), Germany (-8.4%), the United Kingdom (-6.2%) and the Netherlands (-2.9%).

Table 4 shows changes in the value of domestic exports of ten principal commodity divisions.

Comparing the three months ending January 1997 with the three months ending January 1996, the value of domestic exports of most principal commodity divisions decreased. More notable decreases were registered for electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (by $1.3 billion or 15%); photographic apparatus, equipment and supplies, optical goods, watches and clocks (by $813 million or 18%); office machines and automatic data processing machines (by $619 million or 16%); miscellaneous manufactured articles consisting mainly of printed matter (by $457 million or 9.7%); and clothing (by $436 million or 2.3%).

Over the same period, increases in the value of domestic exports were recorded for professional, scientific and controlling instruments and apparatus (by $287 million or 39%); and tobacco and tobacco manufactures (by $32 million or 5.7%).

Changes in the value of imports from ten main suppliers are shown in Table 5.

Comparing January 1997 with January 1996, increases were recorded in the value of imports from France (+21%), the United Kingdom (+15%), Germany (+6.8%), China (+6.3%), the United States (+3.4%) and Malaysia (+1.6%).

However, decreases were recorded in the value of imports from Taiwan (-12%), Japan (-4.1%), South Korea (-3.5%) and Singapore (-1.5%).

Comparing the three months ending January 1997 with the three months ending January 1996, increases were recorded in the value of imports from Germany (+15%), Malaysia (+14%), the United Kingdom (+13%), China (+5.4%), Singapore (+0.7%), South Korea (+0.6%), the United States (+0.5%) and Japan (+0.2%).

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However, the value of imports from Taiwan and France decreased by 6.3% and 4.5% respectively.

Table 6 shows changes in the value of imports of ten principal commodity divisions.

Comparing the three months ending January 1997 with the three months ending January 1996, more notable increases in the value of imports were registered for office machines and automatic data processing machines (by $3.8 billion or 20%); clothing (by $2.6 billion or 10%); electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (by $2.5 billion or 5.2%); footwear (by $885 million or 6.2%); and miscellaneous manufactured articles consisting mainly of baby carriages, toys, games and sporting goods (by $726 million or 2.9%).

Over the same period, more notable decreases in the value of imports were recorded for road vehicles (by $1.7 billion or 15%) and textiles (by $1.1 billion or 3.4%).

All the trade statistics described here are measured at current prices and no account has been taken of changes in prices between the periods of comparison.

A separate analysis of the volume and price movements of external trade for January 1997 will be released in early April 1997.

Detailed trade statistics analysed by commodity and by country/territory are published in trade statistics reports.

The January 1997 issue of the "Hong Kong External Trade" with detailed analyses on the performance of Hong Kong’s external trade in January 1997 will be on sale at $111 per copy around March 20, 1997.

The report can be purchased at either the Government Publications Centre, Ground Floor, Low Block, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong, or the Publications Unit of the Census and Statistics Department, 19th Floor, Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

Enquiries regarding regular subscription to this report may be directed to the Publications (Sales) Office, 28th Floor, Siu On Centre, 188 Lockhart Road. Wan Chai, Hong Kong (Tel. No. 2598 8194) and enquiries on trade statistics to the Census and Statistics Department (Tel. No. 2582 4915).

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TABLE 1 : RE-EXPORTS TO TEN MAIN DESTINATIONS «

DESTINATION JAN 1997 (HKD Mn.) JAN 97 ‘ OVER JAN 96 (% CHANGE) NOV 96 TO JAN 97 (HKD Mn.) NOV 96 TO JAN 97 OVER NOV 95 TO JAN 96 (% CHANGE)

CHINA 36,591 - 1.8, 111,980 + 6.4

UNITED STATES 19,651 + 11.5 57,222 + 10.9

JAPAN 7,153 + 3.6 20,150 + 0.6

GERMANY 4,060 - 8.6 11,700 - 9.4

UNITED KINGDOM 2,833 + 1.0 8,795 + 1.9

TAIWAN 2,655 + 4.4 7,432 + 1.1

SINGAPORE 2,482 + 6.9 7,842 + 13.6

NETHERLANDS 1,794 + 9.1 4,939 + 4.7

FRANCE 1,661 + 0.6 4,840 + 2.8

SOUTH KOREA 1,628 + 1.6 4,730 - 4.3

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TABLE 2 : RE-EXPORTS OF TEN PRINCIPAL COMMODITY DIVISIONS

COMMODITY DIVISION ( JAN 1997 HKD Mn. ) JAN 97 OVER JAN 96 (% CHANGE) NOV 96 TO JAN 97 (HKD Mn.) NOV 96 TO JAN 97 OVER NOV 95 TO JAN 96 (% CHANGE)

MISCELLANEOUS MANUFACTURED ARTICLES (MAINLY BABY CARRIAGES, TOYS, GAMES AND SPORTING GOODS) 11,175 + 2.6 33,373 + 1.1

ELECTRICAL MACHINERY, APPARATUS AND APPLIANCES, AND ELECTRICAL PARTS THEREOF 10,466 + 0.1 31,949 + 5.0

ARTICLES OF APPAREL AND CLOTHING ACCESSORIES 9,375 + 5.4 25,032 + 5.6

TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND SOUND RECORDING AND REPRODUCING APPARATUS AND EQUIPMENT 9,352 - 2.2 28,473 - 2.2

TEXTILE YARN, FABRICS, MADE-UP ARTICLES AND RELATED PRODUCTS 8,139 - 7.1 23,675 + 0.4

OFFICE MACHINES AND AUTOMATIC DATA PROCESSING MACHINES 7,227 + 26.2 21,100 + 25.0

FOOTWEAR 6,271 + 1.2 16,636 + 3.7

PHOTOGRAPHIC APPARATUS, EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES, OPTICAL GOODS, WATCHES AND CLOCKS 4,661 + 0.4 13,952 - 2.3

TRAVEL GOODS, HANDBAGS AND SIMILAR CONTAINERS 3,323 + 6.2 9,353 + 9.7

PLASTICS IN PRIMARY FORMS 2,475 - 13.5 6,901 - 17.1

19

TABLE 3 : DOMESTIC • EXPORTS TO TEN MAIN DESTINATIONS

JAN JAN 97 NOV 96 NOV 96 TO JAN 97

DESTINATION 1997 OVER TO OVER

JAN 96 JAN 97 NOV 95 TO JAN 96

(HKD Mn.) (% CHANGE) (HKD Mn.) (% CHANGE)

CHINA 5,239 - 4.0 15,982 + 0.7

UNITED STATES 3,819 - 13.8 13,231 - 9.3

GERMANY 988 - 7.7 3,134 - 8.4

UNITED KINGDOM 903 + 1.5 2,720 - 6.2

JAPAN 894 - 6.8 2,664 - 9.7

SINGAPORE 736 - 31.2 2,223 - 27.3

TAIWAN 530 - 24.6 1,633 - 20.3

NETHERLANDS 526 + 14.0 1,364 - 2.9

FRANCE 326 + 13.0 872 + 2.0

CANADA 305 - 16.9 906 - 14.2

20

TABLE 4 : DOMESTIC EXPORTS OF TEN PRINCIPAL COMMODITY DIVISIONS

COMMODITY DIVISION U JAN 1997 1KD Mn. ) JAN 97 OVER JAN 96 (% CHANGE) NOV 96 TO JAN 97 (HKD Mn.) NOV 96 TO JAN 97 OVER NOV 95 TO JAN 96 (% CHANGE)

ARTICLES OF APPAREL AND CLOTHING ACCESSORIES 5,513 - 5.9 18,219 1 N) bJ

ELECTRICAL MACHINERY, APPARATUS AND APPLIANCES, AND ELECTRICAL PARTS THEREOF 2,432 - 14.4 7,409 - 14.7

MISCELLANEOUS MANUFACTURED ARTICLES (MAINLY PRINTED MATTER) 1,260 - 16.2 4,272 - 9.7

PHOTOGRAPHIC APPARATUS, EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES, OPTICAL GOODS, WATCHES AND CLOCKS 1,218 - 17.1 3,709 - 18.0

OFFICE MACHINES AND AUTOMATIC DATA PROCESSING MACHINES 1,189 - 3.5 3,324 - 15.7

TEXTILE YARN, FABRICS, MADE-UP ARTICLES AND RELATED PRODUCTS 1,093 - 12.6 3,300 - 5.6

TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND SOUND RECORDING AND REPRODUCING APPARATUS AND EQUIPMENT 768 - 7.5 2,213 - 6.4

PROFESSIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CONTROLLING INSTRUMENTS AND APPARATUS, NES 386 + 74.0 1,018 + 39.2

MANUFACTURES OF METALS 329 - 16.4 1,013 - 17.1

TOBACCO AND TOBACCO MANUFACTURES 279 + 22.6 600 + 5.7

21

TABLE 5 : IMPORTS 4 FROM TEN MAIN SUPPLIERS

JAN JAN 97 NOV 96 NOV 96 TO JAN 97

SUPPLIER 1997 OVER TO OVER

JAN 96 JAN 97 NOV 95 TO JAN 96

(HKD Mn.) (% CHANGE) (HKD Mn. ) (% CHANGE)

CHINA 51,054 + 6.3 145,948 in +

JAPAN 15,942 - 4.1 52,417 + 0.2

UNITED STATES 10,369 + 3.4 30,257 + 0.5

TAIWAN 9,962 - 12.4 31,210 - 6.3

SINGAPORE 6,968 - 1.5 20,700 + 0.7

SOUTH KOREA 5,786 - 3.5 17,931 + 0.6

GERMANY 3,355 + 6.8 9,662 + 15.4

UNITED KINGDOM 3,118 + 14.7 9,076 + 13.1

MALAYSIA 2,962 + 1.6 9,239 + 13.5

FRANCE 2,962 + 21.4 7,895 - 4.5

22

TABLE 6 : IMPORTS OF TEN PRINCIPAL COMMODITY DIVISIONS

COMMODITY DIVISION (I JAN 1997 IKD Mn.) JAN 97 OVER JAN 96 (% CHANGE) NOV 96 TO JAN 97 (HKD Mn.) NOV 96 TO JAN 97 OVER NOV 95 TO JAN 96 (% CHANGE)

ELECTRICAL MACHINERY, APPARATUS AND APPLIANCES, AND ELECTRICAL PARTS THEREOF 16,122 1 to GJ 50,322 + 5.2

TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND SOUND RECORDING AND REPRODUCING APPARATUS AND EQUIPMENT 12,169 - 1.9 36,288 - 1.3

ARTICLES OF APPAREL AND CLOTHING ACCESSORIES 10,135 + 14.6 27,927 + 10.3

TEXTILE YARN, FABRICS, MADE-UP ARTICLES AND RELATED PRODUCTS 10,029 - 8.6 30,772 - 3.4

MISCELLANEOUS MANUFACTURED ARTICLES (MAINLY BABY CARRIAGES, TOYS, GAMES AND SPORTING GOODS) 8,518 + 4.7 25,529 + 2.9

OFFICE MACHINES AND AUTOMATIC DATA PROCESSING MACHINES 7,955 + 23.9 23,096 + 19.9

FOOTWEAR 5,670 + 5.9 15,091 + 6.2

PHOTOGRAPHIC APPARATUS, EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES, OPTICAL GOODS, WATCHES AND CLOCKS 5,058 - 4.0 15,356 - 3.3

ROAD VEHICLES 3,587 - 8.0 9,639 - 15.1

NON-METALLIC MINERAL MANUFACTURES 3,574 + 0.7 11,276 + 5.9

End

23

Tickets only on GH Azaleas Day for wheelchair users

*****

The Commissioner for Rehabilitation today (Thursday) made a special appeal to wheelchair users who do not have admission tickets not to come for the Azaleas Day at Government House on Saturday (March 15).

About 800 wheelchair users and their relatives and helpers have been invited to see the azaleas through prior arrangements by the Commissioner for Rehabilitation.

A spokesman for the Commissioner’s office said admission will be by ticket only and those without tickets will be turned away.

"We have set up facilities in the gardens for the visitors and special transport arrangements will be provided to take them to Government House.

"We hope other wheelchair users will understand that space limitation and the need for special arrangements make it impossible to accommodate more visitors," the spokesman said.

The Governor, the Rt Hon Christopher Patten, agreed to arrange an Azaleas Day for wheelchair users in response to a suggestion made at a public forum on his Policy Address last October.

End

Consultation on revised English Language Syllabus

*****

School heads and teachers are welcome to forward their suggestions and recommendations on the Draft Revised Syllabus for English Language (Primary 1 - 6) prepared by the Curriculum Development Council on or before May 9.

Copies of the draft revised syllabus had been sent to all schools.

To expound the concepts and strategies suggested in the revised syllabus and facilitate teachers to exchange their opinions and experiences, the Education Department will organise six seminars in April.

Principals are requested to nominate teachers interested in taking part in the seminars. The closing date for application is March 21 (Friday).

24

For enquiries, please contact the English Unit, Curriculum Development Institute of the department on 2892 5875.

Comments on the draft revised syllabus could be sent to the Principal Inspector (English), Curriculum Development Institute at Room 1318, Wu Chung Building, 213 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai by mail or by fax: 2573 5299.

End

Insider Dealing Tribunal submits report *****

Insider Dealing Tribunal has submitted a report on its inquiry relating to Hong Kong Parkview Group Limited to the Financial Secretary.

Earlier the Insider Dealing Tribunal concluded that insider dealing in the listed securities the Hong Kong Parkview Group Limited took place between 13 and 16 August 1993, and identified an individual as insider dealer in those shares.

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Friday, March 14, 1997

Contents Page No,

Government response to enquiries on Joint Declaration........................ 1

Financial Secretary's transcript............................................. 2

Series of new initiatives to improve basic education......................... 3

Funding for language benchmark pilot exercise welcomed....................... 5

Joint efforts to ensure gas safety........................................... 7

Govt opposes Member's Bill on additional statutory holiday................... 9

Anti-drug prevention continues to focus on youths............................ 9

Tsuen Wan Environmental Resource Centre contract awarded.................... 12

Western Harbour Crossing Regulation gazetted................................ 13

Fee revision proposed for fire services certificates........................ 13

Improved road network to benefit Peng Chau residents........................ 14

Reprovisioning of boy's home to Sha Tin..................................... 15

Information Infrastructure Advisory Committee established................... 16

Results of registration exams for pharmacists announced..................... 17

Air quality report for February released.................................... 17

Parents also Appreciate Teachers' Drive kicks off....................... 18

Fresh water cut in Ap Lei Chau.............................................. 19

1

Government response to enquiries on Joint Declaration ♦ ♦ ♦ * ♦

In response to press enquiries about the role of the British Government in monitoring the implementation of the Sino-British Joint Declaration after July 1, 1997, a Government House spokesman said:

’’The Joint Declaration is a binding international treaty registered with the United Nations. It contains solemn commitments by China to Britain that Hong Kong will be run according to the One Country Two Systems formula at least until 2047.

"It provides, for example, for the continuing existence of the Joint Liaison Group until January 1, 2000 to conduct consultations on the implementation of the Joint Declaration. Such consultations will be meaningless unless Britain was monitoring the implementation of the treaty.

"For all these reasons, any suggestion that Britain has no right to do so is therefore extraordinary."

End

2

Financial Secretary's transcript *****

Following is the remarks by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang at the media session at the Legislative Council today (Friday):

Tsang: May be I’ll say a few words in English. I’m just following the tradition. I, immediate following the delivery of the Budget Speech, I met members of the public, I also met Legislative Council, and I also tried to talk as much as possible with members of the public. And today is the function where I met members of Legislative Council. And I reported to members that I was most grateful to them for various suggestions they made to me on the preparation of this year's Budget. And indeed, of the 158 proposals they put to me during the preparation stage, we have accepted 119 of them, 119 of them. I'm sure that the reponse that we have received so far is due to no small measure to the suggestions made by members on this. We've discussed, on a whole, three subjects this morning. Members raised the question of CSSA payment for the elderly. I have tried to explain to members that this year the welfare spending would be increased by over nine percent in real terms as compared with 1996-97 and indeed on welfare spending we have increased quite rapidly, substantially above the average growth rate of public services as a whole. But members still felt that we should do more for the elderly CSSA payment. And I agreed with them we should apply our resources and join forces and consider what is the appropriate level of improvement in that regard and we can consider in the context of preparation of the next year's Budget. We also talked about the question of speculation of property market. On that question, I assured members my colleagues and I in the Administration will pay particular attention to this area and if there are signs that speculations going rampant in any particular sector, we will have no reservation in taking necessary measure to counter it. The third area we discussed is our general principle of financial management. I explained clearly our principle of not allowing public expenditure to grow beyond the growth rate of the economy as a whole. We explained that it was very important to the Hong Kong's prosperity all our growth forecast is based on this principle. We must be very careful not to undermine it in any particular way. I think generally members agreed to it. It's only actual application of this principle that they believe that we should have greater flexibility. But this is an area from our point of view is fundamentally important. It also establishes Hong Kong's credibility as an international financial market. Well, thank you very much.

End

3

Series of new initiatives to improve basic education ♦ ♦ ♦ * ♦

The Government will conduct a pilot exercise at a cost of $15 million in 1997-98 financial year for establishment of language benchmarks for teachers with a view to enhancing the language standards and professionalism of teachers, and in turn, the quality of teaching and learning in schools as proposed in the Education Commission Report No. 6(ECR No. 6).

Speaking at a press conference today (Friday) on the education expenditure in 1997-98, the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr Joseph W P Wong, said that the pilot language benchmarking exercise, to be co-ordinated by the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR) and administered by the Hong Kong Examinations Authority and Education Department, was expected to be completed in 1998.

The exercise, one of the new initiatives taken by the Government to improve language proficiency of students, will finalise benchmarks for English, Chinese and Putonghua languages, and assess the re-training needs for teachers.

Mr Wong noted that new teachers entering the profession in two years would be required to meet the language benchmarks while serving teachers would be expected to meet the requirements in about 10 years' time.

Mr Wong pointed out that four new initiatives would be taken in 1997-98 to enhance language proficiency of students. Apart from the pilot language benchmarking exercise, the government would also extend the English and Chinese Extensive Reading Schemes to all levels of primary and secondary schools, increase the provision of intensive English courses to Secondary Six and Seven students and set up a Language Resources Centre.

The Government has taken a series of measures to implement the recommendations in ECR No.6. These include :

* setting up the Standing Committee on Language Education and Research (SCOLAR);

enrolling 110 000 students from 278 schools in Chinese and English Extensive Reading Schemes in 1996-97;

* enrolling 13 900 students in Putonghua summer courses in 1996;

* developing Putonghua syllabus, and introducing Putonghua as separate subject in Primary one, Secondary one and four in 1998 before it becomes a Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination subject in 2000.

4

He emphasised that students’ language proficiency was only one of the seven main areas of improvements to enhance the development of basic education. The other six areas, namely, teaching and learning environment, support services for new arrival children, quality of school education, special education, civic education and information technology education, would also be enhanced by implementing new measures.

Improvements in the seven main areas will involve a non-recurrent expenditure of $4,145 billion and recurrent expenditure of $929 million a year. The estimated expenditure for 1997-98 is $538 million.

On the information technology education, the Financial Secretary has in his budget proposed to spend $300 million over the next two years for the provisions of multi-media computers to all public sector primary schools, an information technology learning centre in each prevocational and secondary technical schools, and computer training courses to teachers.

Mr Wong noted that the Government would ensure the optimal use of the information technology facilities, and further develop the information technology education in collaboration with the following concerned parties :

* the SCOLAR to study how to use information technology to enhance effective language learning;

* the Curriculum Development Council to study how to use information technology to enhance effective learning in other subjects; and

* teacher education providers to study how to enhance information technology training for teachers;

He said the information technology would be reviewed on a regular basis and funds would be sought, where necessary, to upgrade or increase information technology facilities in schools.

The Financial Secretary has also proposed to increase the maximum deduction for taxpayers claiming expenses in respect of fees for training courses attended at approved institutions by 66.7 per cent, from $12,000 to $20,000 a year.

Welcoming the proposal, Mr Wong said that it was encouraging and this reflected that the Government was very concerned about the development of continuing education.

5

The expenditure on education in the 1997-98 financial year is $45.15 billion, representing 18.2 per cent, or the largest share, of the total public expenditure. This also represents an increase of 7.7 per cent in real terms, which is higher than the 6.9 per cent increase of the total public expenditure.

The expenditure in basic education is $30,669 billion or 67.7 per cent of the total expenditure on education. This represents an increase of 10.3 per cent in real terms over that of the current year.

End

Funding for language benchmark pilot exercise welcomed *****

Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Teacher Education and Qualifications (ACTEQ), Professor Felice Lieh Mak, welcomes the news that the Government has approved $15 million to implement a language benchmark pilot exercise.

’’Language benchmarking will not only help to enhance the language standards but also the professionalism of teachers, and in turn the quality of teaching and learning in schools,” Professor Lieh Mak said.

As a starting point, ACTEQ has embarked on a benchmark study for the following categories of teachers:

* teachers of English in the lower secondary forms;

* primary school teachers using Chinese as the medium of instruction; and

* primary school teachers teaching Putonghua.

In view of the impact of the benchmark exercise on teachers, a pilot exercise will be conducted in 1997-98, involving assessment of a selected number of teachers for the above categories, as well as the finalisation of the benchmarks.

The assessment will include written and oral tests as well as the language performance of teachers in the classroom. The Hong Kong Examinations Authority (HKEA) will administer the written and oral examinations while the Education Department will be responsible for the classroom language observation element.

6

"HKEA is glad to accept the Government's invitation for it to administer the pilot assessment, which is a new and challenging area of work for the HKEA,” Chairman of the HKEA, Mr Chow Ming-kuen, said.

Three subject committees will be formed for the pilot benchmark assessment to deal with the three languages: English, Chinese and Putonghua respectively.

About 1,200 teachers will be randomly selected from different types of schools to participate in the pilot exercise.

In order to ensure that the finalised benchmarks are reliable and appropriate, both new and serving teachers, with different qualifications and lengths of teaching experience will be selected.

The pilot written assessments will probably take place in the second quarter of 1998, whilst the classroom language observation will take place earlier, probably starting from the third quarter of this year.

ACTEQ proposed to implement the language benchmarks, once finalised, on new teachers as soon as possible, and the earliest date would be 1999. As for serving teachers, the Education Commission Report No. 6 recommended that they might be allowed 10 years to reach the benchmarks.

During the public consultation with teachers and the education sector held by ACTEQ in July 1996, there was general acceptance of the need for language benchmarking for enhancement of the language standard of teachers, as well as the proposed implementation time frame on new and serving teachers.

ACTEQ will, based on the experience of the pilot exercise, advise on the actual implementation timetable as well as the qualifications of teachers which will allow them to be considered for exemption from benchmarking.

End

7

Joint efforts to ensure gas safety *****

The Government and the gas industry have worked together effectively to ensure the safe supply and use of gas in Hong Kong and this successful partnership has its origins in three aspects of Government policy, the Acting Secretary for Economic Services, Mr Leo Kwan, said today (Friday).

Speaking at the opening of a symposium on risk and safety management in gas industry, Mr Kwan noted first of all the long-standing policy of relying on the private sector to assess the local market in supplying gas.

’’This has encouraged substantial investments in the gas supply market by companies having a long-term commitment to Hong Kong and a responsible attitude towards risk and safety management,” he said.

The second aspect was the Government's policy of encouraging the provision of piped gas supply to new domestic buildings.

"The policy was adopted in 1982 and since then the percentage of domestic buildings provided with piped gas supply has increased from about 30 per cent to nearly 70 per cent.

"In parallel, the safety of many thousands of gas water heaters has been improved through replacement and upgrading. These actions have undoubtedly made a major contribution to gas safety in Hong Kong," he said.

In addition, the Government has put in place comprehensive gas safety legislation to ensure public safety without being unduly involved in the business operations of gas supply companies, according to Mr Kwan.

"The Gas Safety Ordinance, which was introduced in 1991, controls, in the interests of safety, the importation, manufacture, storage, transport, supply and use of town gas, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), natural gas or any mixture of these.

"To further strengthen the ordinance, amendments were made last year to require the proper maintenance of gas installations by their owners and to deter damage to underground gas pipes by works contractors, who now have to follow a code of practice," he added.

Mr Kwan stressed the Government's commitment to improving gas safety in many other ways through proactive administrative measures.

8

’’The Gas Authority (who is the Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services) adopts a risk assessment approach to minimise potential risks associated with gas installations.

’’This requires major gas supply companies to submit Safety Case and Quantitative Risk Assessment reports as part of the requirements for registration of their gas terminals, to demonstrate that the risks associated with their operations are controlled within the Government's risk guidelines," explained Mr Kwan.

Also speaking at the Symposium, the Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services, Mr Hugh Phillipson, said a fair balance had been achieved between selfregulation by the gas industry and the exercise of Government control.

Moreover, he said the adoption of a risk-based approach had ensured that all risk potentials would be evaluated at the planning and design stage of a gas installation, and cost-effective risk reduction measures would be carried out as necessary.

He noted that his department had adopted such an approach in working with other departments on the feasibility of introducing gas powered vehicles.

In this regard, the Government is working closely with trade operators and the LPG industry on operational and technical matters for a trial run on LPG taxis, he added.

Both Mr Kwan and Mr Phillipson acknowledged the support and co-operation given by the gas industry in the process of achieving high standards of safety, and called for their continued support towards the cause.

Jointly organised by the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and the Institution of Gas Engineers of the United Kingdom, the day-long symposium aimed to promote an exchange of experience in the safety management of gas plants and systems. About 330 engineers and operators from the gas industry participated in the event.

End

9

Govt opposes Member's Bill on additional statutory holiday

*****

The Government does not support the Member’s Bill gazetted today (Friday) by the Honourable Lau Chin-shek, which seeks to amend the Employment Ordinance by adding May 1 as a statutory holiday.

A Government spokesman said: ’’Statutory holiday is a matter which affects the interests of both employers and employees. As such, it has to be carefully considered and should only proceed on the basis of a consensus reached through tripartite discussion amongst Government, employer and employee representatives at the Labour Advisory Board.”

"The Hon Lau Chin-shek’s Bill is an unilateral attempt to amend labour legislation without going through this well-established tripartite consultative process. As a matter of principle, the Government will not support any bill which has not been considered by the Labour Advisory Board in the first instance," the spokesman said.

"The proposal to add one statutory holiday on a permanent basis applies to all employees in the private sector and would therefore affect production and work schedules in all business establishments in all economic sectors. This will add to the cost of doing business," he explained.

He went on to say that the list of general holidays for 1997 had been decided and published, so we should not attempt to make any change now.

"In fact, under the existing Employment Ordinance, employers may make May 1 one of the two floating statutory holidays," the spokesman added.

End

Anti-drug prevention continues to focus on youths

*****

The Action Committee Against Narcotics' (ACAN) Preventive Education and Publicity (PE & P) Sub-committee today (Friday) endorsed a $2.5 million PE & P Programme for 1997/98 and the Report of the Task Group on Preventive Education Strategy.

The new Chairman of the PE & P Sub-committee, Mr Justein Wong Chun said: "Notwithstanding the drop in the number of young drug abusers reported, ACAN’s PE & P strategy for 1997/98 would continue to focus on the youth drug abuse problem and the important role parents could play to steer their children away from drugs.

10

’’The anti-drug programme will comprise a wide variety of educational, entertainment and sports activities with active support and participation from District Boards, District Fight Crime Committees, voluntary agencies, educational institutions, Government Departments, the media and private organizations.”

Having regard to the recommendations of the Task Group on Preventive Education Strategy, Mr Wong said the following PE & P themes would be adopted for the year 1997/98:

* to educate young persons that there is no difference between ’’hard" and ’’soft” drugs in terms of harmful effects, and to better equip them with refusal skills;

* to alert parents the importance of strengthening parent-child relationship and the role that they could play to steer their children away from drugs;

* to encourage people, in particular young people, to adopt a drug-free life, and to point out that whatever their problems may be, there are other alternatives to drug.

Components of the PE & P programme include, among others,

* Drug Education Talks and a new video for the talks

* Anti-drug Homepage on the Internet

* Mobile Publicity Unit

* Workshops and Seminars

* Joint Projects with the Electronic Media

* District Anti-drug campaigns

Mr Wong said: "Drug education talks will continue to be given by the School Talk Team of the Narcotics Division of the Government Secretariat for secondary and primary 6 school students and parents of secondary school students.

"A new video featuring different refusal skills in various real-life situations will be produced to enhance the contents of the drug education talks for secondary school students.

11

’’The video will be produced such that the presenter of the talk can pause at suitable moments to motivate students to think about what are the possible refusal skills/alternatives to drugs before proceeding to view the advice in the video.”

The allocation of $2.5 million for ACAN’s PE & P programmes for 1997/98 represents an increase of almost 12 per cent over the last year’s allocation.

ACAN’s PE&P Programme will continue to be supplemented by the central Anti-drug Publicity Campaign implemented by the Information Services Department. The publicity campaign will promote a drug-free lifestyle for young persons and educate them that there is no difference between ’’hard" and ’’soft” drugs in terms of harmful effects.

The campaign would comprise three new Television Announcements in the Public Interest (TV APIs), radio APIs, general posters and poster advertisements at MTR stations.

Meanwhile at the Research Sub-committee meeting held on March 12 (Wednesday), it was decided that an amount of $2 million would be allocated to carry out researches, which include, among others,

* A study on the factors affecting drug abuse trend in Hong Kong

* A study on social cost of drug abuse in Hong Kong

* A study to look into the situation of drug overdose in Hong Kong

* A study on the employment problems of the Society for the Rehabilitation of Offenders clients who had ever taken drug and

* Needs of ex-drug addicts.

Tertiary institutes and interested organizations would be invited to submit detailed proposals on these surveys.

Likewise the Treatment and Rehabilitation Sub-committee had issued the Three-Year Plan setting out the "Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Service in Hong Kong” to the non-government organizations, tertiary institutes and District Fight Crime Committees for information in early March. This document would provide a useful reference point for planning future provision of services for drug abusers.

End

12

Tsuen Wan Environmental Resource Centre contract awarded *****

The contract for the provision of management and operation service for the Tsuen Wan Environmental Resource Centre (TWERC)of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) was awarded today (Friday) to the Conservancy Association(CA).

The centre will be EPD’s second resource centre to provide the general public with easy access to environmental information.

Speaking at the contract-signing ceremony, the Chairman of the Environmental Campaign Committee, Mr Ronnie Wong, said that the TWERC would be the first environmental resource centre in Hong Kong to be operated by a Green Group.

"The centre will enhance the environmental awareness of the community within the Urban West Catchment and also help extensively in expanding the geographical coverage of environmental education facilities in Hong Kong," he said.

He pointed out that under the contract, CA would operate the TWERC for two years.

"The two-year management and operation of the TWERC would cost about HK$ 1,369,000, to be paid out of the Environment and Conservation Fund," he said.

Also attending today’s ceremony was the Community Relations Officer of the Environmental Protection Department, Ms Mabel Mak, who estimated that the TWERC would serve about one million people in the district.

"We intend to set up more environmental resource centres in the future and are actively identifying possible sites throughout the territory," she said.

She pointed out that the TWERC was converted from a traditional Hakka style Chinese residential building in Tak Wah Park which was a government .declared monument.

With the renovation cost funded by the Woo Wheelock Green Fund and the Environment and Conservation Fund, renovation work of the building has been completed with the assistance of the Architectural Services Department.

When opened in mid-1997, the TWERC will be the first ERC installed with World Wide Web to enable teachers and the public to access to environmental information through the Internet.

End

13

Western Harbour Crossing Regulation gazetted

*****

The Western Harbour Crossing Regulation was published in the Government Gazette today (Friday).

A Government spokesman said the Regulation set out the obligations and responsibilities of the Western Harbour Tunnel Company Limited in operating the Western Harbour Crossing.

"With the aim of ensuring the safe and efficient operation of the tunnel, it covers such aspects as the safe and continuous provision of facilities, safety of persons using the tunnel, lighting and visibility in the tunnel, noise generated by ventilation equipment, powers of company staff and records required to be kept by the Company," the spokesman added.

End

Fee revision proposed for fire services certificates ♦ * ♦ ♦ ♦

The Government proposes to revise the fee for the issue of a Fire Services Certificate (FSC) in respect of matters relating to fire risks or fire precautions.

The Fire Services Department (Reports and Certificates) (Amendment)(No. 2) Regulation 1997, which sets out the new fees, is gazetted today (Friday).

Under the Fire Services Department (Reports and Certificates) Regulations, the Director of Fire Services may issue an FSC to any person applying for one in writing, and upon payment of the appropriate fee, in respect of matters relating to fire risks or fire precautions connected with any premises, vessels or other property.

A Government spokesman said that it was Government policy that fees should in general be set at levels sufficient to recover the full cost of providing the services.

He noted that the existing fee of $280, set at nominal level, has been in force since November 1994.

"The Director of Audit has observed that the existing fees for FSCs are substantially below cost. He recommended in April 1995 that the Fire Services Department (FSD) should carry out a detailed costing exercise for the various certificates and consider achieving the objective of full cost recovery, in line with Government policy.

14

’’The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) endorsed the Director of Audit's recommendations and suggested that full cost recovery may be achieved by phases and that fees be calculated on the basis of the size and purpose of the premises," the spokesman said.

He said that FSD had conducted a costing review, taking into account the PAC's recommendations.

"Based on the costing results, we propose to introduce a new fee structure to cater for different types of FSCs, and a scale which takes account of the size of new buildings and food premises," the spokesman said.

He said that to lessen the impact, the full cost recovery would be phased in by a five-step annual increase.

"Fees would be revised to achieve cost recovery of 20 per cent this year, and then 40 per cent, 60 per cent, 80 per cent and 100 per cent in each of the following years," he explained.

"We propose to introduce phase one of the increase with effect from April 25 this year," he added.

The spokesman said that the proposed fee increases would have little impact on the trades concerned, such as the food business, as the fees are one-off expenditures and represent only a small proportion of their operating costs.

The Amendment Regulation will be tabled in the Legislative Council on March 19.

End

Improved road network to benefit Peng Chau residents ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The Territory Development Department has proposed a series of road and improvement works in Peng Chau to cope with the increasing population on the island by the turn of the century.

A spokesman for the department said today (Friday) that the project would include building new footpaths and new roads along the south-west coast and Tung Wan, putting up retaining walls, reconstructing existing roads, and laying associated drainage works.

15

"With the improved road network, the island will become much more accessible to the residents and holiday-makers. Moreover, larger fire engines can get to the scenes more swiftly in times of emergency,” the spokesman said.

The island has a population of about 4,000, which is estimated to grow to 5,000 by the year 2000.

The spokesman added that the construction works would begin in mid-1998 and take 30 months to complete.

Details of the proposed works are published in the Government Gazette today. Any person who wishes to object to the works, or the use or both, should send his objection in writing to the Secretary for Transport, Central Government Offices, East Wing, 2nd floor, Lower Albert Road, Central before May 13, 1997.

End

Reprovisioning of boys’ home to Sha Tin

*****

The Begonia Road Boys’ Home in Sham Shui Po, which has a history of 34 years, will be reprovisioned to Area 64 in Sha Tin near the Sha Tin Infirmary & Convalescent Hospital.

The new boys’ home will have accommodation for 120 residents. It will comprise six dormitories, four classrooms, five workshops, conference rooms, dining hall, multi-purpose hall, staff offices, quarters, and other ancillary facilities.

Works on the project will start in May for completion in October 1998.

The Architectural Services Department is inviting tenders for the project. Details of the tender are published in the Gazette today (Friday).

End

16

Information Infrastructure Advisory Committee established *****

A new advisory committee, the Information Infrastructure Advisory Committee (IIAC), has been established under the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) to co-ordinate the orderly development of the Information Infrastructure in Hong Kong.

’’With rapid advances in information technologies, effective inter-personal communication and fast flow of information have assumed a much more important role in our business community and daily life," said Mr Anthony S K Wong, Acting Director-General of Telecommunications.

"It is necessary for Hong Kong to develop in a timely and orderly manner our information superhighway within Hong Kong and linking us up to the rest of the world. Such links should provide us with ready choices of connectivity, greater personal flexibility and mobility, and all kinds of multi-media services and new applications.

"To prepare us for the arrival of the Information age, there is a need to step up our coordination of the development of Hong Kong’s Information Infrastructure, hence the setting up of this new committee," he added.

The membership of the IIAC includes representatives of the local fixed network carriers, the telecommunications and information technology industries, and relevant professional bodies. Academics, industrialists, and experts in the relevant fields are also appointed to serve on an ad personam basis. The Committee is chaired by the Director-General of Telecommunications personally.

"I am pleased to have such a distinguished group of people who come from different sectors of the community to join the IIAC," said Mr Wong.

"I shall consider the need for appointing other suitable persons to the Committee at a later stage, in the light of IIAC’s operating experience.

"An immediate task for the IIAC will be the establishment of special task forces to tackle individual issues at a more technical, detailed level, and we need to co-opt people outside the IIAC who are interested in the subject and possess relevant expertise to serve as co-opted task force members."

17

The first meeting of the IIAC will be held on Friday, March 21, 1997 at 9.30 am in the Conference Hall of Central Government Offices Main Wing (New Annex). The meeting is open to the public and the media.

In line with OFTA’s established practices, the agenda, papers and minutes of meetings of the IIAC are made available for retrieval by interested members of the public at OFTA’s Internet home page (URL address: http://www.ofta.gov.hk) and BBS (tel: 2834 0119).

End

Results of registration exams for pharmacists announced

*****

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong announced today (Friday) results of the registration examinations for pharmacists held in December 1996.

A total of 57, 63 and 69 candidates sat for the examinations in "Pharmacy Legislation in Hong Kong", "Pharmacy Practice" and "Pharmacology" respectively with corresponding passing rates of 43.9 per cent, 74.6 per cent and 46.4 per cent.

Apart from meeting other conditions set by the Board, a pharmacy graduate who returns from overseas and intends to be registered as a pharmacist in Hong Kong is required to pass the above three subjects.

The Board conducts its registration examinations twice a year, normally in June and December.

End

Air quality report for February released *****

The Environmental Protection Department today (Friday) released air quality information for February 1997.

The information shows no violation of air quality objective values in the month.

The report includes the monitoring results from Mong Kok, Central/Westem and Kwai Chung, which represent three important land use types in the territory:

18

* locations close to road traffic in built-up urban areas;

* combined commercial and residential districts; and

* districts close to industrial areas.

Air pollutants reported include sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, total suspended particulates, and the respirable suspended particulates. All these pollutants can affect respiratory health in sufficient concentration.

Air pollution originated from various sources, including combustion, industrial and construction processes. In terms of impact on local air quality, motor vehicle exhaust is the most important source of nitrogen dioxide and airborne particulate matter, especially the smaller respirable particles.

End

Parents also Appreciate Teachers’ Drive kicks off *****

The Assistant Director of Education (Schools), Mr Tong Kai-hong; the Chairman of the Committee on Home-School Co-operation, Mr Tik Chi-Yuen; and committee member, Professor Wong Chung-kwong; will tomorrow (Saturday) kick off ’’The Parents also Appreciate Teachers’ Drive 1997” at the Hong Kong Teachers’ Centre.

Representatives from parent-teacher associations will join a round-the-territory bus parade after the Kick-off Ceremony.

They will distribute specially designed thank-you cards to the public in order to arouse public awareness of respecting teachers.

Last year, a total of 100,000 appreciation cards had been sent to teachers by parents.

This year, parents will send some 600,000 cards to teachers from 686 participating schools.

In response to the Education Department's ’’Respect our Teachers” Campaign, the annual event is organised by the Committee on Home-School Co-operation and Sing Tao Daily.

End

19

Fresh water cut in Ap Lei Chau * * * * *

Fresh water supply to some premises in Ap Lei Chau will be suspended from 11 pm on March 17 (Monday) to 6 am the following day for waste detection work on watermains.

The suspension will affect all premises in Ap Lei Chau Main Street, Lee Man Road, Lee Chi Road, Ho King Street, San Shi Street, Shui Sau Street, Shan Ming Street, Ping Lan Street, Wai Fung Street, Hung Shing Street and London Lane.

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Saturday, March 15, 1997

Contents Page No,

SEM welcomes appointment of new VTC Executive Director................. 1

HAD studies the setting up of Building Management Resource Centre.. 2

6,000 students benefit from Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund............. 4

Sunday, March 16,1997

Contents Page No,

Information kit to promote film classification system.................. 6

Winners performances of School Dance Festival.......................... 6

Fresh water cut in Sham Shui Po and Kwun Tong.......................... 7

1

SEM welcomes appointment of new VTC Executive Director

* ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr Joseph W P Wong, welcomed the appointment yesterday of Professor Lee Ngok as the next Executive Director of the Vocational Training Council (VTC).

As Executive Director, one of Professor Lee's major responsibilities will be to take forward to the implementation stage those recommendations which the Government will eventually adopt following its strategic review of the Vocational Training Council.

"All those within the Government who are involved in vocational education and training look forward to working with Professor Lee in the coming years", said Mr Wong.

Paying tribute to the retiring Executive Director, Mr Horace Knight, Mr Wong said that Mr Knight had played a key role in the development of vocational education and training in Hong Kong.

"The VTC has many strengths and has achieved a great deal over the years", said Mr Wong.

"Professor Lee will be able to build upon Mr Knight’s efforts as he leads the VTC into the 21st century".

End

2

HAD studies the setting up of Building Management Resource Centre *****

The Home Affairs Department (HAD) has formed a working group to study the setting up of a resource/enquiry centre on building management to provide more comprehensive assistance to members of the public, owners’ corporations (OCs) and building management personnel, the Director of Home Affairs, Mrs Shelley Lau, said today (Saturday).

Speaking at the Building Management Seminar '97, Mrs Lau hoped that the proposed centre would provide the necessary professional advice on building management including legal counsel, repair and maintenance of buildings, finance and personnel management.

"We are now inviting various professional organisations to join in the project and the working group will soon submit a report on the issue to the Secretary for Home Affairs for his consideration," she said.

Mrs Lau also detailed the measures taken by HAD to assist owners in improving building management and handling related problems.

"One of these measures is using legislative means to help owners carry out their building management duties and the Building Management Ordinance was amended in 1993 to facilitate the formation of OCs."

In order to enhance public understanding and arouse their concern over building management issues, HAD and its district offices have regularly organised promotional and educational activities on building management such as seminars, talks and training courses. Leaflets, booklets and videotapes on the subject have also been produced.

HAD is also actively encouraging and assisting owners to form OCs. The staff will pay regular visits to OCs once they are established to give advice on management issues.

As to buildings with management problems, Mrs Lau said nine Building Management Co-ordination Teams (BMCTs) had been formed in nine districts by HAD since 1985. These teams gave owners practical advice on the improvement of building management, and co-operated with other government departments in rendering assistance.

3

"Over the past 12 years, about 1,000 ’target* buildings have been selected by BMCTs for inclusion in the improvement programme. More than 400 of them have seen promising improvement and the Department will continue to work on the remaining buildings on the action list.

"Every year, HAD tries to get more buildings to join the improvement project, hoping that more problematic buildings can benefit from it."

Mrs Lau also pointed out that to meet the residents' needs, HAD had stepped up supporting services to them since mid-1995.

One of these is to strengthen staff training, which covers relevant legal aspects and the provision of guidelines to help them handle enquiries from OCs.

Additionally, the number of liaison officers will increase by 10 per cent and more staff will be deployed to the Building Management Team in the headquarters in the coming financial year.

Mrs Lau stressed that HAD had been allocating huge resources and manpower in carrying out the building management work.

The Building Management Seminar '97 was jointly organised by HAD and the Housing Department, with more than 800 flat owners, office-bearers of OCs and mutual aid committees, and building management professionals participating.

Five professionals spoke on their respective areas of expertise, including the formation of OCs in Home Ownership estates, building electricity maintenance, building repair and maintenance, the Building Safety Inspection Scheme and legal aspects of building management.

Apart from an exhibition highlighting the major aspects of building management, the Fire Services Department had also set up a booth with staff from the department on hand to provide professional advice and answer participants' enquiries on fire prevention.

End

4

6,000 students benefit from Sir Edwrad Youde Memorial Fund *****

The Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund has supported more than 6,000 students since it was set up in 1987. More than 560 scholars and fellows have completed their studies and are now working in Hong Kong in different fields, contributing to the well being and development of the territory.

This year 855 students were granted awards and scholarships under the Fund to pursue their studies.

An annual awards presentation ceremony, together with a variety show, was held at City Hall this (Saturday) evening to mark the 10th anniversary of the Fund.

Lady Youde, who presented the awards at the ceremony, thanked the donors for their generous support.

"The success of the Fund has all been made possible by the generous support we have received from very many people.

"We are particularly indebted to those who worked so hard to set up the Fund in 1987; and here I should like to pay special tribute to our first Chairman of the Council, the late Stephen Cheong," Lady Youde said.

"I am deeply grateful to my colleagues, past and present, who have devoted long hours to serving on the Board and Council. It is due to the determination and vision of members such as Sir Quo-wei Lee, Chairman of the Board for seven years that we are able to celebrate ten years of growth and success."

The Fund has disbursed a total of $12.6 million in the 1996-97 academic year. Awards made include 12 awards for overseas studies; four medals for students who have obtained outstanding results in public examinations; 17 awards for disabled students; 89 scholarships for diploma and undergraduate students; 41 fellowships for post-graduate students and 691 prizes for senior secondary school students.

Exclusive sponsorship in the amount of $600,000 towards the Young Friends of the Hong Kong Arts Festival Scheme has continued in 1996-97 with the aim to increase secondary school students' exposure to the performing arts.

5

The visiting professorship scheme, first launched by the Fund in 1995-96, aims to promote cultural exchange between Hong Kong and the other parts of the world. This year, two eminent scholars, namely Prof Alan Baker of the Department of Mathematics, University of Cambridge and Prof Robert J Sternberg of the Department of Applied Social Studies, Yale University, have been selected for the award. They will visit Hong Kong sometime in April and May 1997 to conduct seminars and deliver public lectures.

Competition for the overseas fellowships and scholarships for 1997-98 was keen. 12 students from 221 applicants have won the awards. They will each receive a maximum of $228,000 and $210,000 a year for a fellowship award and a scholarship award respectively. They are required to return to work in Hong Kong for at least three years after completion of their studies.

An overseas award exclusively for disabled students was introduced in 1994. The 1997-98 scholarship recipient is a visually impaired student who plans to study Psychology at Rice University in USA.

Four students who obtained outstanding results in the 1996 public examinations have been awarded the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Medals.

A total of $356,429 has been expended on the Award Scheme for the Disabled Students, under which 17 students have been provided with financial assistance for the purchase of study aids.

This year, 35 postgraduate students have been awarded the local fellowship at $38,000 each and 89 undergraduate/diploma students have been awarded the local scholarship at $22,000 each. In addition, 6 postgraduate students have had their local fellowships renewed.

The variety show, which came after the presentation ceremony, featured performances by several Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund music scholars, students of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Kam Sze Leung’s Band and local performing stars Cass Pang, George Lam and Albert Au.

End


- 6 -

Information kit to promote film classification system

*****

The Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (TELA) has recently produced an information kit on the film classification system and film censorship standards for distribution to secondary schools and parent/teacher associations.

The kit, consists of pamphlets, posters and fact sheets, is part of TELA's publicity campaign to enhance young people's understanding of the current three-tier film classification system.

It also aims at arousing a greater awareness among parents and teachers of their role in providing guidance for their children or their students in the selection of films.

A spokesman for TELA said today (Sunday): "We hope school principles and teachers will support our campaign by using the information in the kit as part of their curriculum.

"I am sure it will help increase the students’ knowledge on the system and provide useful guidance in their choice of films, thus helping them to choose films suitable for them," he added.

Besides, staff from TELA will visit schools regularly to give further information on the film classification system.

End

Winners performances of Schools Dance Festival *****

The Prize Presentation and Winners Performances of the 33rd Schools Dance Festival will be held in April.

The performances are jointly presented by the Education Department, the Urban Council, the Regional Council and the Hong Kong Schools Sports Council.

A selection of Chinese, Oriental, Modern and Western Folk/National Dances will be performed by students who have attained honours awards in the festival this January.

Some 4,400 students from 239 schools participated in this annual event.

7

The Overall Challenge Awards of the Secondary and Primary School Sections went to SKH Bishop Mok Sau Tseng Secondary School and Sam Shui Natives’ Association School (AM) respectively.

St Paul’s Convent School, Sacred Heart Canossian College and Bishop Hall Jubilee School attained the first, second and third runners-up of the Secondary School Section.

Yaumati Catholic Primary School (AM), Dr Catherine F Woo Memorial School (AM) and Yaumati Catholic Primary School (PM) were the first, second and third runners-up of the Primary School Section.

Meanwhile, Sacred Heart Canossian College and Yaumati Catholic Primary School (PM) were awarded as the Most Progressive Schools.

Winners performances will be held at the Auditorium, Tsuen Wan Town Hall on April 1 (Tuesday) and April 2 (Wednesday); and at the Concert Hall, City Hall on April 16 (Wednesday) and April 17 (Thursday) at 7.30 pm.

Tickets of $35 and $45 are available at URBTIX. There will be a 10 per cent discount for each purchase of 10 or more tickets.

Student tickets of $25 are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

End

Fresh water cut in Sham Shui Po and Kwun Tong *****

Fresh water supply to some premises in Sham Shui Po and Kwun Tong will be suspended from 11 pm on Wednesday (March 19) to 6 am the following day for waste detection work on watermains.

In Sham Shui Po, the suspension will affect all premises in the area bounded by Cheung Sha Wan Road, Nam Cheong Street, Un Chau Street, Shek Kip Mei Street, Fuk Wing Street and Wong Chuk Street.

In Kwun Tong, the suspension will affect all premises in the area bounded by Kwun Tong Road, Tung Yan Street, Hip Wo Street, Wan Hon Street, Sui Wo Street, Shung Yan Street and Hong Ning Road, as well as those in Ka Lok Street, and Cheung On House and Hing On House of Wo Lok Estate.

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Monday, March 17,1997

Contents Page No,

Recommendations made on prevention of 0157:H7........................ 1

Development of captive insurance in Hong Kong........................ 3

No change to illegal immigration policy.............................. 5

Guidelines for employers to eliminate age discrimination............. 6

HAD studies setting up Building Management Resource Centre........ 7

Summary Guide on Civil Service Regulations published................. 9

Stamps with Queen’s head not valid from July........................ 10

Environmental booklet to help manufacturers published..............  10

Germany/Hong Kong Joint Research Scheme........................... 11

Young prisoners receive Pitman Medals for outstanding achievement. 12

British Forces Rugby Team face PLA.................................. 12

Water storage figure................................................ 13

Flushing water cut in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay..................... 13

Water cut in Sheung Shui and Tsuen Wan.............................. 14

Hong Kong Monetary Authority tender results......................... 15

1

Recommendations made on prevention of O157:H7 *****

Thorough cooking of meat at the consumer end remains the most effective way to prevent infection by E.coli O157:H7 since the bacteria can be easily killed at a cooking temperature of 75 degree Celsius.

The advice was given by the Assistant Director of Health, Dr Leung Pak-yin, today (Monday) as he summarised findings of a recent case involving the detection of the bacteria in some minced beef samples taken at a retail outlet.

He said the Department believed that the case was an isolated incident since only two samples from the same retail outlet were found to be contaminated.

’’All other forty-three samples/swabs and environmental swabs taken subsequently from the abattoir, wholesaler, and other retail outlets of the same department store had been tested negative."

The second sample tested positive belonged to the batch that had already been voluntarily surrendered and destroyed.

On the possible causes of contamination, Dr Leung said it could take place at the abattoir, during the transportation process and at the wholesaler or retailer levels.

At the abattoir, there was the chance of accidental puncturing of intestines or stomach of cattle by the cutting knife during the slaughtering process and contacts between the cattle’s upper offal and lower offal during the handling process.

Cross contamination could also take place at the transportation process and the wholesaler stage due to improper storage of cattle heart, liver and beef together.

At the retailer end, it was likely that the food preparation equipment including the mincing machine had not been cleaned well allowing cross contamination from one batch to the other.

"Although it is recognised world-wide that total elimination of E.coli 0157:H7 from fresh meat is impossible, the Department made a number of recommendations to minimise the chance of such contamination," Dr Leung said.

The recommendations included:

2

Abattoirs

* More stringent measures should be taken to ensure internal organs of cattle do not have contact with carcasses

* Cutting knives should be sanitised if they have punctured into intestines or stomach of cattle

* All carcasses should be washed by pressurised water before release from abattoirs

* Hearts and livers of cattle should be thoroughly washed before release.

* Meat swabs will be taken from abattoirs regularly for analysis to monitor the effectiveness of control

Transportation Process

* Operators should be reminded that meat carcasses and internal organs should be separated during transportation

Fresh Provision Shops

* Internal organs and carcasses of cattle should be separated during the handling and storage process

* Fresh beef should be thoroughly washed before mincing

* Mincing machines should be washed and sanitised after each session of operation and in no case less than twice each day

* Meat trays should be washed and sanitised before being used for new batch of meat

* General hygienic conditions should be improved

Dr Leung pointed out that a number of the above measures had already been implemented since the first detection of the bacteria in a meat sample.

He was satisfied that appropriate control measures had been taken immediately by all related parties to suspend the sale of the batch of beef in question and to conduct thorough cleansing of the possible contaminated places and machines. He also noted that no food poisoning case associated with the bacteria had so far been reported.

3

“In view of the incident, the Department of Health will step up its sampling of food for testing of E.coli O157:H7 bacteria," Dr Leung said.

"The two municipal services departments will also strengthen its inspection of these shops and ensure that the recommendations are implemented."

He said that the public do not have to be unduly worried by the incident since beef is safe for consumption so long as it is cooked thoroughly. Health education on this aspect will be strengthened.

Public are welcome to use the Department's interactive voice and response system on "Hygiene Information For You", Tel No 2380 2580, for more information and preventive measures on food-borne diseases including E.coli 0157:H7.

End

Development of captive insurance in Hong Kong *****

The Government is committed to promoting the development of captive insurance and reinsurance business in Hong Kong, the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, said this (Monday) evening.

Addressing the annual dinner of the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers, Mr Tsang said that the insurance industry would have to face up to many challenges in the years ahead. Rapidly changing cultural values, an ageing population, an affluent middle class with better education and higher expectation, business mobility and severe competition were some of the more important issues the industry would need to tackle as it moved into the 21st century.

"The insurance industry is one of our major targets for promotion.

"We believe that the development of captive insurance in Hong Kong will widen the range of insurance options to both local and multinational enterprises. This would also bring into Hong Kong additional capital funding and job opportunities," Mr Tsang said.

Mr Tsang said the Secretary for Financial Services had set up a Working Group comprising representatives from the insurance industry who had professional knowledge and experience in insurance, risk management and financing.

"It has worked out a number of proposed measures aimed at encouraging the setting up of captive insurance companies in Hong Kong.

4

’’These measures include regulatory concessions, such as the reduction of minimum capital and solvency margin requirements, and exemption from the requirement to maintain assets in Hong Kong which apply to ordinary insurers,” he said.

These proposals are in the Insurance Companies (Amendment) Bill 1997 which the Legislative Council is currently examining.

The Financial Secretary said the coming into effect of the proposed Mandatory Provident Fund Scheme would provide the insurance industry with further scope for expansion.

’’The Mandatory Provident Fund Scheme will generate about HKS30 billion each year, which will need to be managed and invested. I am sure that the insurance industry will be able to benefit from this project,” he said.

Turning to the point on self-regulation, Mr Tsang commended the work of the Federation of Insurers.

"The Federation has been both responsive and responsible towards the promotion of self-regulation.

"The Federation has made great efforts to promote public confidence in the industry by developing business ethics and practices on the one hand, and promoting the professionalism and integrity’ of insurance practitioners on the other," Mr Tsang said.

Citing the adoption of the common disclosure standard for investment-lined long term insurance policies as an example, Mr Tsang said it enhanced the transparency of the sales process by providing more information to prospective policyholders.

"It is also very encouraging to note that the Federation is prepared to consider extending these standards to non investment-linked long term insurance policies, which form the bulk of Hong Kong's long term insurance business.

"The Federation’s work is also consistent with the Government’s policy of keeping bureaucratic intervention in the operation of the insurance market to the minimum," Mr Tsang concluded.

End

5

No change to illegal immigration policy *****

In response to press enquiries about recent newspaper reports on illegal immigration, a Government spokesman said today (Monday) that there will be no amnesty for illegal immigrants (Ils) before or after July 1, 1997.

Stressing that there is no change to the illegal immigration policy, the spokesman said that all Ils found in Hong Kong would be repatriated immediately.

He said that the existing controls applied on both sides of the land border would not be eased post-1997.

"We will continue to take stem action against those caught in smuggling Ils. We will also continue our close liaison with the Chinese with a view to stopping the problem at source,” he said.

The spokesman described as ’’deplorable” the snakeheads' total disregard of safety of pregnant women and young children.

He added that a system existed for entry into Hong Kong for settlement in an orderly manner through the one-way permit system.

According to the Government's estimate of the population of the children in China aged under 20 who would have right of abode in Hong Kong after June 30, 1997, all these eligible children would be able to come to Hong Kong before the end of 1998.

"There is no need for their parents to risk their lives to arrange their entries into Hong Kong illegally," the spokesman said.

End

6

Guidelines for employers to eliminate age discrimination *****

The Government has produced a set of draft practical guidelines and the first in a series of Announcement in Public Interest (API) encouraging employers to eliminate age discrimination in employment.

This is part of the Government’s sustained programme of public education, publicity and self-regulation to tackle age discrimination in employment following the results of a public consultation exercise last year.

A spokesman for the Education and Manpower Branch said today (Monday): "The draft practical guidelines cover a wide range of employment situations including recruitment, advertising, employment agency services, selection, promotion and training as well as redundancy and retirement.”

’’Copies of the practical guidelines will be sent to all members of the Legislative Council (LegCo), the LegCo Manpower Panel, employer and employee organisations and other interested parties for comment," the spokesman said.

Besides advising employers on how to develop a set of consistent criteria to select qualified persons, irrespective of their age, in the recruitment, promotion and training, the guidelines also encourage employers and employment agencies to specify clearly in recruitment advertisements that their vacancies are open to suitably qualified persons of any age.

On dismissal and redundancy issues, the guidelines ask employers to ensure that conditions for access to voluntary departure or redundancy schemes, if any, are on equal terms for employees without giving consideration to their age.

Employers are also advised to review from time to time their company policy on retirement, and consider in particular whether a compulsory retirement age is necessary.

"We are confident that these guidelines, once finalised, will facilitate the elimination of discrimination in employment on the ground of age," the spokesman said.

As regards the API, which will be on television next week, the spokesman said this was only the first in a series of APIs putting across the message that it is ability that counts, not age.

7

The series of APIs will feature a number of authentic cases where middle-aged employees who have worked in a particular industry for many years have successfully secured a new job in a completely different line of work.

’’The Government is now planning the production of a second series of APIs to focus on employment opportunities for younger persons,” the spokesman added.

Reiterating that the Government is committed to the promotion of equal employment opportunities for workers irrespective of their age, the spokesman urge members of the public to support the Government’s efforts in the coming months to tackle the issue.

”We believe that the most appropriate way to deal with age discrimination in employment is through a programme of public education, publicity and selfregulation,” the spokesman said.

End

HAD studies setting up Building Management Resource Centre *****

A study is being conducted by an inter-departmental working group on the setting up of a resource/enquiry centre on building management to provide a set of comprehensive supporting services to owners' corporations (OCs) and building management personnel, the Director of Home Affairs, Mrs Shelley Lau, said today (Monday).

Speaking at a meeting of the Tsuen Wan Rotary Club, Mrs Lau said the working group would later submit the findings of the study and its recommendations to the Secretary for Home Affairs for consideration and implementation.

"The proposed resource centre would provide professional advice and reference materials on various aspects of building management, such as legal counsel, repair and maintenance of buildings, finance and personnel management.

’’The Home Affairs Department (HAD) is inviting professional organisations to participate in the project to offer their professional advice to help solve management problems of private buildings. The organisations being invited include the Hong Kong Association of Property Management Companies, the Law Society of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors and the Hong Kong Society of Accountants."

8

Mrs Shelley Lau stressed that the Government was committed to helping owners to manage their buildings effectively, adding that a series of measures had been introduced to improve residents’ living environment and their overall quality of life.

In addition to the study on the setting up of a building management resource/enquiry centre, the Government had adopted legislative means to help owners carry out their building management duties. For example, the ’’Building Management Ordinance” was amended in 1993 to provide a legal framework to encourage owners to form OCs and to outline their rights and responsibilities in handling building management matters.

”To promulgate the proper concepts of building management, HAD and its district offices have regularly organised seminars and training courses as well as produced booklets, leaflets and video tapes on the subject.

’’HAD is also actively encouraging and assisting owners to form OCs. The staff pay regular visits to OCs once they are formed to help solve their management problems,” Mrs Lau said.

As regards buildings already beset with management problems, Mrs Lau said they could resort to the Building Management Co-ordination Teams (BMCTs) which HAD has set up in nine districts since 1985. The teams offer practical advice and act as a co-ordinator with various Government departments in rendering assistance to OCs.

"Over the past 12 years, more than 1,000 buildings have been selected for inclusion in the improvement programme. Over 400 have seen marked improvements and the Department will continue to work on the remaining buildings on the action list.

’’The BMCTs have tried every year to get more buildings in the district to join the improvement programme so that more owners can benefit from it.

”On the staff training programme, HAD has included relevant legal aspects and offered guidelines to help them handle enquiries from OCs and owners.

"The Department has already obtained approval to increase the number of liaison officers by 10 per cent and to deploy more staff to the building management team in the headquarters in the coming financial year," she added.

End

9

Summary Guide on Civil Service Regulations published

*****

The Civil Service Branch announced today (Monday) the birth of a Summary Guide on Civil Service Regulations.

The Civil Service Regulations, which is a 6-cm thick, A4 sized, heavy rule book on civil service conditions and conduct, has now been summarised into a 2-cm thick Guide in A5 size.

The Summary Guide covers the major provisions of the Civil Service Regulations in simple language. It is intended to be a handy and user-friendly reference tool, with clear subject index, for use by both management and staff.

The Acting Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service, Ms Grace Lui said that the Guide had been produced to explain civil service regulations in simpler, clearer and easier to understand terms.

"About 15,000 copies of the Guide (8,500 in Chinese and 6,500 in English) will be distributed to different government offices and units. This will hopefully enable easy access by all civil servants," she said.

The Staff Side representatives of the four Central Consultative Councils have participated in the chapter-by-chapter examination of the draft Summary Guide, production of which has taken some 12 months to complete.

"The Staff Side representatives have tendered invaluable advice and made significant contributions in the process," Ms Lui said.

"The Summary Guide is not a replacement of the Civil Service Regulations. The Civil Service Regulations remains the authoritative and authentic document," she added.

End

10

Stamps with Queen's head not valid from July ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The Postmaster General, Mr Robert Footman announced today (Monday) that Hong Kong postage stamps bearing the Queen’s portrait or the Royal Cypher will no longer be valid for postage as from July 1, 1997.

Arrangements will be made for customers to exchange these postage stamps if they wish for current definitive stamps of an equivalent value during the period from July 3 to 31, 1997. Details will be announced closer to the time.

End

Environmental booklet to help manufacturers published * * * * *

The Industry Department has published the 1997 edition of its environmental booklet entitled "A Guide to Pollution Control Legislation Affecting Manufacturing Industries".

The Guide, first published in 1992, aims to assist manufacturers by providing basic information on environmental measures which may affect them, and where technical advice may be obtained.

The Guide provides a summary of Hong Kong's environmental legislation, and includes reference to major international environmental measures which may affect Hong Kong manufacturers, such as the ISO 14000 standards.

"To assist manufacturers in complying with environmental legislation, the Guide also includes information on support services available to manufacturers on environmental matters," a spokesman for the Department said today (Monday).

"Apart from useful addresses and telephone numbers for more detailed enquiries on different environmental legislation, the Guide contains a list of organisations which provide technical advice and training on environmental matters," the spokesman said.

The Guide will be distributed free of charge to major industrial and trade associations and 5,500 manufacturers most likely to be affected by environmental measures.

End

11

Gennany/Hong Kong Joint Research Scheme * * * ♦ *

The Research Grants Council (RGC) announced today (Monday) that 25 research proposals have been awarded grants totalling HKS1 million under the Gennany/Hong Kong Joint Research Scheme.

Designed to encourage collaborative research between scholars in Hong Kong and Germany, the Germany/Hong Kong Joint Research Scheme is a pilot scheme introduced by the RGC and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in June 1996.

"The response to the pilot scheme has been very encouraging". Prof Ping Ko, Chairman of the RGC said.

There were 104 applications covering a wide range of subjects seeking more than HKS10 million.

Under the Scheme, applications must be submitted jointly by a full-time academic staff member from a University Grants Committee-funded institution in Hong Kong and a similarly qualified academic from a university or research institution in Germany.

A joint selection committee comprising six members, three from Hong Kong and three from Germany, selected 25 out of the 104 research proposals for funding support. "The quality of the research proposals was generally very high", Prof Ko said.

Those funded cover such disciplines as molecular biology, biochemistry, physical sciences, environmental conservation, information engineering, language, education and religion, the subjects of which are of relevance to Hong Kong and Germany.

The grants provide the researchers with return air passages, accommodation and subsistence allowance to enable them to visit their research partners to discuss or conduct research projects.

The RGC and the DAAD have agreed to continue with the Scheme next year with at least the same level of funding.

The RGC also operates a joint research scheme with the UK which has been running since 1991.

The joint research schemes are part of the RGC's continuing efforts to develop the research culture in Hong Kong and increase opportunities for exchanges among members of the Hong Kong and the international academic communities.

The RGC is established under the aegis of University Grants Committee and functions as an advisory body within its organisational structure.

End

Young prisoners receive Pitman Medals for outstanding achievement

*****

Two young prisoners who achieved outstanding results in public examinations in English for Speakers of Other Languages administered by Pitman, will receive their “Pitman Medals" at a certificate presentation ceremony at the Lai King Training Centre on Wednesday (March 19).

The two outstanding pupils are inmates of the Pik Uk Correctional Institution, and they, along with 28 inmates of Lai King Training Centre, will receive their awards from High Court Judge, Mr Justice Leong.

The two achieved first class pass in public examinations of the Pitman Qualifications held in April last year.

Twenty-eight inmates of Lai King also passed in examinations in English for Speakers of Other Languages: Practical Word Processing and Book keeping and accounting. Fourteen of the inmates also achieved the First Class Award.

End

British Forces Rugby Team face PLA *****

For the first time in their sporting history the British Forces will "scrum down" against the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at Happy Valley tomorrow (Tuesday).

Ideological differences will be put to one side and the international language of rugby will take over when the Royal Highlanders, drawn mainly from the 1st Battalion The Black Watch (1BW), meet the PLA's Sports Institute, from Guangzhou, in the first round of the Carlsberg Tens at the Hong Kong Football Club Stadium.

13

Colour Sergeant Billy Paterson, captain of the Royal Highlanders, said his men are looking forward to the match. "It’s a privilege for us to have been drawn to play the PLA and we expect an exciting match," he said. "We're also hoping that after the game we can share a few refreshments with them."

Also attending this historic match will be Commander British Forces, Major General Bryan Dutton, and the Commanding Officer of 1BW, Lieutenant Colonel Alasdair Louden. Over 50 supporters from the Battalion are expected be on hand to cheer their team on.

The British Forces and the PLA previously met at Borneo Lines, Sek Kong, in April 1996, when they combined forces in a rugby match against the visiting Kidderminster Carolians.

End

Water storage figure *****

Storage in Hong Kong's reservoirs at 9 am today (Monday) stood at 78.4 per cent of capacity or 459.317 million cubic metres.

This time last year the reservoirs contained 462.438 million cubic metres of water, representing 78.9 per cent of capacity.

End

Flushing water cut in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay ♦ * * * ♦

Flushing water supply to some premises in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay will be suspended from 11 pm on March 20 (Thursday) to 6 am the following day for alteration works on watermains.

The suspension will affect all premises bounded by Convention Avenue, Fenwick Pier Street. Arsenal Street. Lockhart Road. Percival Street, Leighton Road, Gloucester Road and I lung Hing Road.

End

14

Water cut in Sheung Shui and Tsuen Wan ♦ * * * ♦

Fresh and flushing water supply to some premises in Sheung Shui will be suspended from 11 pm on Thursday (March 20) to 6 am the following day for waste detection work on watermains.

The suspension will affect all premises at Kwu Tung section of Castle Peak Road, including Shek Chai Ling, Tung Fong, Tong Kok, Fung Kong, Fong Kong Shan, Kwu Tung, Ho Sheung Heung, Tsung Yuen, Ma Tso Lung, Ma Tso Lung San Tsuen, Lo Wu Camp and Lo Wu Rifle Range.

Meanwhile, fresh water supply to some premises in Tsuen Wan will also be suspended from 11 pm on Thursday to 6 am the following day for waste detection work on watermains.

The affected areas will include 38-216 Sai Lau Kwok Road. 344-350 Castle Peak Road and 1-27 Mei Wan Street.

End

- 15 -

Hong Kong Monetary Authority tender results *****

Tender date : 17 March 1997

Paper on offer : EF Notes

Issue number : 5203

Issue date 18 March 1997

Maturity date : 18 March 2002

Coupon : 6.55%

Amount applied HK$2,440 MN

Amount allotted IIKS500 MN

Average price accepted (yield) 99.14 (6.87 PCT)

Lowest price accepted (yield) 99.13 (6.87 PCT)

Pro rata ratio : About 29 PCT

Average tender price (yield) 99.10(6.88 PCT)

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Tuesday, March 18,1997

Content Page No,

Transcript of Governor's media session.................................... 1

Officials consulted on Lantau Link fireworks display...................... 5

Last 1992 definitive stamp sheets sold out................................ 6

Latest unemployment and underemployment statistics out.................... 6

Contracts awarded for slope upgrading works............................... 8

Insider Dealing Tribunal appointment...................................... 9

80 convicted pollution cases recorded in February......................... 9

Man fined for possessing faked gold rings................................ 10

More elderly health centres set up....................................... 10

Royal Navy to make Hong Kong beach shipshape............................. 12

Secondary 6 admission procedure shortened................................ 12

Hong Kong Monetary Authority tender results........................... 14

1

Transcript of Governor's media session

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is the transcript of the media session given by the Governor, the Rt Hon Christopher Patten, after the ExCo meeting at CGO this (Tuesday) morning:

Governor: Good morning. Perhaps I could just say a couple of things. We had a discussion this morning with the Commissioner of Police about our latest crime statistics and we were able to congratulate the Commissioner once again on really good figures for February. Comparing February this year with February last, overall crime has fallen by over 20% and violent crime by nearly 6%.

Now I realise that no crime is an acceptable level but nevertheless, what we can point to in Hong Kong is not just a statistical blip as far as the crime levels are concerned but a steady reduction in crime. Which means, for example, that the crime figures last year were not just lower than they were in the early 90's but were actually lower than they were 15 years ago. I think that is a great tribute to the whole community. I think it is a tribute to the Fight Crime committees. Above all it is a tribute to the police. And we, of course, in Hong Kong have a much higher police to population ratio than most similar communities - it is about 436 police officers for every 100,000 of population. I think that means that people see the police about in the community and that in itself is a deterrent to serious crime. So I repeat, the February figures were extremely good and I hope that we will continue to see falling crime in this community as a mark of the community's social and political stability.

One other thing that 1 would like to say but it should not be necessary to clarify this point - there was a statement put out by the Foreign Office's News Department yesterday which made the point. There has been some controversy in the last few days about whether or not Britain could or should monitor the implementation of the Joint Declaration after 30 June this year. I just want to make the position absolutely plain because we have had one or two statements which I think have generated heat rather than shed light.

The position is perfectly simple. The Joint Declaration is an international treaty. It is a binding treaty which has been lodged at the United Nations. Under that treaty China makes a number of solemn commitments to the United Kingdom about how Hong Kong is going to be governed and how Hong Kong is going to develop over the 50 years after 1997. So it is natural that Britain should and will wish to monitor how those commitments are kept and how the Joint Declaration is implemented.

2

And it is of course equally clear that the Joint Liaison Group which is where we consult with China about transition issues until 1 January 2000, will be a natural forum for discussing with Chinese officials just how the Joint Declaration is being implemented. Nobody is talking about the Joint Liaison Group having a supervisory role. That is specifically ruled out in the Joint Declaration, Annex II of which sets out in detail what the JLG's responsibilities are. But clearly, as part of the monitoring of the implementation of the Joint Declaration, British officials would wish, in the Joint Liaison Group, to raise any matters which they thought meant that the Joint Declaration was not being implemented faithfully.

I would only want to add that the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have underlined Britain's determination to continue monitoring the implementation of the Joint Declaration. And the Foreign Secretary, of course, announced before Christmas that Britain will be tabling, every six months, a report to Parliament on the implementation of the Joint Declaration so that Parliament can consider what is happening and those reports will also be made available to the UN bodies at Geneva so that they can see the view of the British Government on the implementation of the JD.

I just set those points out in some detail because there has been some confusion about them in the last few days.

Reporter: Mr Patten, you seem to have increasing doubts with three months to go about China's willingness to live by the agreement, by the spirit or the letter of it. You are expressing increasing doubts are you not?

Governor: No, I am reacting to some statements which I think surprised many people, including members of the Legislative Council yesterday, which appeared to suggest that China was saying that Britain had no monitoring role after 1 July 1997.

As for optimism in the future, I think that there is very strong reason to be broadly-speaking optimistic about Hong Kong's future success, but there is no doubt that one or two of the decisions that have been taken in recent months have caused people here and people elsewhere considerable concern about Hong Kong's political and economic freedoms. And 1 will, as others will, continue to speak out on those issues.

Reporter: But Li Peng actually put it quite bluntly didn't he? He said it's none of your business; it's none of London's business what happens here after 31 June.

3

Governor: Well I have just set out in some detail what the Prime Minister’s Government have signed up to: A solemn and binding treaty in which they make commitments to Britain and to the people of Hong Kong about the way Hong Kong is going to be governed. I think, as I have said on many occasions, that the whole world will be looking at how China implements the Joint Declaration as a sort of litmus test of how China is going to behave on the international stage and how it is going to live up to its other undertakings and agreements.

Reporter: But if after 1 July the Chinese are not, as you see it. as the British Government sees it, biding by this agreement, what happens then if they say to you, ’’Look, we told you, mind your own business"? There is nothing you can do is there?

Governor: What Britain would then have to do, as the Prime Minister has made clear, is to take up its concerns on the international stage. And I can assure you there would be other countries who would be as concerned as Britain, though Britain would have a primary responsibility as the co-signatory to the Joint Declaration.

Reporter: Is Britain going to be raising concern about this issue during the London JLG session?

Governor: I think we will, during the JLG session, remind Chinese officials of what the Joint Declaration means.

Reporter: Some legislators called for..on the role of the JLG. Is it possible?

Governor: No, I have just explained what the role of the JLG is. There is no hidden agenda about the future role of the JLG. The JLG’s role is set out very clearly at Annex II -1 think it is Articles 2 and 3 - of the Joint Declaration. It makes it absolutely plain what the JLG’s role is going to be after 1 July, just as it is plain what its role has been before 1 July.

Reporter: I seems that the Labour Party will take over the government - it’s highly likely that the Labour Party will take over the government in the May Election. Will it affect the monitoring role of the British Government after July 1 and will it affect.?

Governor: Well! You know the result already! How extraordinary. I can’t, of course, speculate on the outcome of the British General Election. But it is, I think, a matter of considerable satisfaction in Hong Kong that the policy that we have pursued in the territory has had cross-party support and has had consistent support from the Labour and Liberal Democratic Parties as well as from the Conservative Party. So I don’t think that if there were to be a change of government, I don't think that would make any difference to what I have just been saying.

4

Reporter: Will the Conservative Party be calling on your expertise in winning elections?

Governor: No, because they know that my expertise, such as it is, is required to go on governing Hong Kong.

Reporter: There have been reports that the ICAC might have to drop the "Independent” post-handover. Would you like to comment on that?

Governor: I must say that I am worried about those reports and I can't think that they reflect any intention to undermine the role of the ICAC. There was a report the other day, a survey the other day, which made it clear that one of the things which concerned people about the future was an increase in corruption. I think that was highlighted in the transition project survey. And we all know from our personal experience that that is a concern that people have. It is therefore, I think, imperative to underline our commitment as a community to the continuing effectiveness of the ICAC. The ICAC today is Independent in name and independent in action. It is not subject to political manipulation.

It is made clear in the Basic Law that the ICAC should continue to be independent and I think that if there are impressions that that may not be the case it is important to move to correct them very speedily.

I want to make it clear that I don't believe for one moment that the Chief Executive (designate) is less committed to the fight against corruption than I am. I am sure that he would agree with everything I have said about the importance of fighting corruption vigorously and having a credible Commission to conduct the fight. But it is obviously important that people should not get the impression that there is any weakening of resolve.

I have already found myself being asked questions by foreign media about the position of the ICAC and I think that was just a reflection of how these things can so easily give the impression of a change in Hong Kong's commitment in an important area. So I hope this can be sorted out in a way which does not undermine a policy which I am sure we all share.

Reporter: Mr Patten, would you like to comment on the recent corruption case relating to the Jockey Club?

Governor: I don't want to. The Commission have conducted an operation in their usual independent way and I don't think, not least given what I have just said, that it is appropriate for me to comment on a particular case. I will just say that the ICAC has very considerable public support and I am sure that the public will be right behind the ICAC in all their efforts to get rid of corruption in every walk of life in Hong Kong.

5

Reporter: What do you think of comments by the NCNA that there (inaudible) in Hong Kong after the handover (inaudible)?

Governor: Well, my range of responsibilities don't, as you may have noticed, include responsibility for the New China News Agency. While I have already made clear Britain’s continuing commitment to monitor the implementation of the Joint Declaration, we have no responsibility for monitoring the role of the New China News Agency. I leave questions of the relationship between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong and the New China News Agency and other organs of the PRC Government, I leave matters like that to Chinese officials to explain. I am sure the community will be interested in what those relationships are but it is really not a matter for me. Thank you very much indeed.

End

Officials consulted on Lantau Link fireworks display

*****

The Director of the New Airport Projects Co-ordination Office (NAPCO), Mr Billy Lam, today (Tuesday) denied a press report that the decision to hold a fireworks display was taken by the Governor alone and that government departments had not been consulted.

"I wish to make it absolutely clear that these claims are totally untrue,” said Mr

Lam.

He said the idea of an opening ceremony for the Lantau Link which includes a fireworks display was first mooted by NAPCO last summer and a working group, comprising 13 government branches and departments including Transport Branch and Department, the Police, Home Affairs Department and Broadcasting, Culture and Sport Branch, was formed in August last year to discuss the ceremony.

In January this year, a steering committee with representatives from 19 Government branches and departments was formed to co-ordinate the overall programme.

The decision was also endorsed by the Airport Development Steering Committee chaired by the Chief Secretary.

An application for staging the fireworks was made by the commercial sponsor. Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd, and this was vetted in the normal way by the Fireworks Vetting Committee on 14 February and approved by the Governor-in-Council on March 4.

End

6

Last 1992 definitive stamp sheets sold out *****

The Hong Kong Post Office announced today (Tuesday) that the last stocks of 1992 definitive stamp sheets will be sold out today.

These stamps, being the last such stamps bearing the Queen's head, were available to the public at four post offices, namely the General Post Office in Central, Tsim Sha Tsui, Tsuen Wan and Sha Tin.

To ensure fairness, the Post Office implemented a quota system limiting the sale to each customer. The four post offices involved opened at 8 am. In addition to post office staff, over 70 security officers were hired specially for crowd control.

Some eleven thousand people are expected to have bought about a quarter of a million sheets of stamps. The last customers are expected to be served by late this evening.

The Post Office is greatly saddened by the death of an elderly gentleman, who died this morning of an apparent heart attack while queuing for stamps. This is an unfortunate and tragic incident.

The Post Office is committed to continuing to review its stamp sales procedures to ensure appropriate crowd control measures and fairness.

End

Latest unemployment and underemployment statistics out *****

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the period November 1996 -January 1997 was 2.5%, and the underemployment rate was 1.4%, according to the latest labour force statistics released today (Tuesday) by the Census and Statistics Department.

For the period December 1996 - February 1997, both the provisional seasonally adjusted unemployment rate and the provisional underemployment rate fell further, to 2.4% and 1.2% respectively.

7

Commenting on these figures, a Government spokesman said that overall labour market conditions seemed to have been tightening in recent months. The unemployment rate fell below the 2.5% mark for the first time since January 1995. Also, the underemployment rate, at 1.2%, was the lowest recorded since September 1994.

Comparing the latest period December 1996 - February 1997 with the period November 1996 - January 1997, declines in the unemployment rate were observed in the restaurants and hotels, import/export trade and transport sectors, while the situation in the other sectors remained generally stable. As to the underemployment rate, decreases occurred mainly in the construction, manufacturing and transport sectors. The situation in the other sectors was stable.

Total employment continued to grow at a pace distinctly faster than that of the labour force. In the three months ending January 1997, total employment registered a significant increase, by 4.2% over a year earlier. Over the same period, total labour force grew by 3.3%.

During the period November 1996 - January 1997, the number of unemployed persons was estimated at 74,100, and the number of underemployed persons at 43,400.

The unemployment and underemployment statistics were obtained from a continuous General Household Survey. The survey for November 1996 - January 1997 covered a quarterly sample of some 23,200 households or 77,600 persons, selected scientifically to represent the land-based civilian non-institutional population in Hong Kong. Data were obtained from the survey by interviewing each member aged 15 or over in the households sampled.

In the survey, the definitions used in measuring unemployment and underemployment follow closely those recommended by the International Labour Organisation.

’’Seasonally adjusted" refers to adjustment for seasonal variations in the proportion of first-time job-seekers in the labour force.

Detailed analysis of labour force characteristics is given in the report on the General Household Survey which is published four times a year.

The next report covering the quarter ending December 1996 will be on sale at the Government Publications Centre at ground floor. Low Block, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong, by the end of March 1997.

End

Contracts awarded for slope upgrading works ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

T

The Buildings Department today (Tuesday) awarded two term contracts to Luen Cheong Tai Construction Company Limited for upgrading and stabilising a total of 40 dangerous private slopes and retaining walls in various parts of the territory.

Each contract is valued at about $60 million and will begin early next month.

Speaking after signing the contracts, the Director of Buildings, Dr Choi Yu-leuk, said that the contractor would be responsible for carrying out upgrading and emergency works on dangerous private slopes and retaining walls.

"The Government is determined to remove dangers arising from old slopes and retaining walls. Efforts are being stepped up systematically to check the safety level of these slopes. Dangerous Hillside Orders will be served on property owners once danger is identified," Dr Choi said.

• "About 200 dangerous hillside orders will be served every year under the Buildings Ordinance to require property owners to carry out investigation and remedial works to potentially dangerous slopes.

"If an owner fails to do so before the deadline, the contractor will carry out the works on his behalf and all the costs will be recovered from him.

"Owners who do not comply with the orders without a reasonable excuse are liable to be prosecuted under the Buildings Ordinance," Dr Choi said.

9

Insider Dealing Tribunal appointment

*****

The Financial Secretary has appointed Mr James Wardell and Mr Peter Wong Shiu-hoi as lay members to the Insider Dealing Tribunal set up to inquire into possible insider dealing in the listed securities of the Hong Kong Worsted Mills Ltd. during the period from May 6 to June 16 1993 (inclusive).

The appointments were made in accordance with section 15(2) and section 15(5) of the Securities (Insider Dealing) Ordinance, and with paragraph 3 of the Schedule thereto.

Mr Wardell is a partner of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and Mr Wong is the Managing Director of Tai Fook Group Ltd. They will be sitting in the Tribunal under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Burrell. Preliminary hearing of the case will be held on Thursday, March 20, 1997 at 2:30 p.m. in Room 702, Peregrine Tower, Lippo Centre, Queensway.

End

80 convicted pollution cases recorded in February ♦ * * * ♦

A total of 80 convictions were recorded in the courts in February for breaching anti-pollution legislation enforced by the Environmental Protection Department.

Among them, 23 were convictions made under the Water Pollution Control Ordinance (WPCO), 33 under the Noise Control Ordinance (NCO), 10 under the Air Pollution Control Ordinance (APCO), and 14 under the Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO).

The fines ranged from $2,000 to $180,000, among which five cases were fined for more than $100,000 under the NCO.

Chun Wo Building Construction Limited was fined $180,000 for permitting to carry out prescribed construction work within a designated area during restricted hours without a valid permit. The company was fined another $170,000 for permitting the use of powered mechanical equipment for carrying out construction work without a permit.

End

10 -

Man fined for possessing faked gold rings *****

A 49-year-old man, found by Customs officers in possession of faked gold rings, was fined $10,000 at Fanling Magistracy today (Tuesday) after pleading guilty to charges under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.

During a baggage examination on passengers arriving from China on Monday, February 24, Customs officers at the Lowu Arrival Hall found from a man 983 golden rings, each of which was marked wholly gold. Suspecting that the rings were not genuine, the officers detained the man for further investigation into possible offences under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.

The officers conducted a preliminary testing on the rings and found that they were not made of gold. Further examination on the seizure by the Government Chemist confirmed that the rings were only gold-plated pieces of lead.

The man was subsequently charged with one count of importing and one count of having in possession for supply those rings to which a false trade description was applied.

The Customs and Excise Department is responsible for the enforcement of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.

Complaints on deficiency in the fineness of gold or platinum articles can be lodged with the Trading Standards Investigation Bureau, Units 1201-7, Nan Fung Commercial Centre, 19 Lam Lok Street, Kowloon Bay, or by telephone on 2707 7711 during office hours and 2852 3185 outside office hours.

End

More elderly health centres set up *****

Three more elderly health, centres (EHC) run by the Department of Health will begin operation on March 21 (Friday) to provide health screening, physical examination and health education to people aged 65 and above, bringing the total number of EHC to seven.

The three new centres are: Kennedy Town Elderly Health Centre, Tsuen Wan Elderly Health Centre, and Yuen Chau Kok Elderly Health Centre.

11

The existing four EHCs are located in Shek Kip Mei, Kwun Tong, Shaukeiwan and Sheung Shui.

A spokesman for the Department said: "The objectives of the elderly health service are for the promotion of the health and well-being of elderly persons as well as the prevention and early detection of common diseases.”

"Services provided include health risk assessment and simple screening test. Those found to have health problems will be referred to appropriate specialist clinics for further assessment and follow-up." he said.

"Health education will be emphasised and conducted in the form of health talks, small group discussions and seminars.

"Each client is issued with a health record and will receive individual counselling." the spokesman added.

The annual fee for these services is $220. For those receiving Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA), the fee will be waived.

The addresses of the three EHCs are as follows:-

Kcnnendy Town EHC

G/F.,Kennendy Town Jockey Club Clinic,

45 Victoria Road, Hong Kong.

Tel: 2817 3418

Tsuen wan EHC

G/F., Lady Trench Polyclinic,

213 Sha Tsui Road, Tsuen wan.

Tel: 2408 2267

Yuen Chau Kok EHC

G/F., Yuen Chau Kok Clinic,

29 Chat Wai Kon Street, Sha Tin.

Tel: 2637 2005

Those who wish to join the programme can book an appointment either in person at the general office of the centres or call the centres direct.

End

12

Royal Navy to make Hong Kong beach shipshape * ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Beachcombers from the Royal Navy will head for a beach on Kau Sai Chau tomorrow (Wednesday) in an effort to clean up the island.

Armed with rubber gloves and bin bags, 20 men from the Hong Kong Patrol Craft, HMS Starling, will attempt to clear one of island's beaches of all rubbish.

"A group of us were sailing in the Sai Kung area a few weeks ago and noticed that the beach at Kau Sai Wan was looking pretty foul," said Gunnery Officer Lieutenant Alaistair Peppe.

"We're all very aware of how important it is to keep Hong Kong 'green', so we decided to come back and tidy the place up a bit," Lieutenant Peppe said.

All rubbish collected during their five-hour visit will be transported by ship to HMS Tamar, at Stonecutters Island, for disposal.

End

Secondary 6 admission procedure shortened *****

The Education Department today (Tuesday) announced that the Secondary 6 admission procedure for the 1997-98 school year would be shortened to a total of eight working days from 8-1/2 in 1996-97.

A Principal Education Officer, Mr P K Chiu, said the five-stage procedure for admission to Secondary 6 for the 1997-98 school year was basically the same as last year, except that the duration of Stage III, which was for schools to admit their own students having satisfied the minimum A-level entry requirements, would be shortened to a half-day operation.

"The shortening of the Stage III procedure is to tie in with the provision of a two-week pre-S6 Intensive English Language Programme for some students."

"As in last year, a total of eight centres will be made available for central allocation," Mr Chiu said.

[Missing 2 pages in the original document]

15

Tender date : 18 March 1997

Paper on offer : EF Bills

Issue number : Y787

Issue date 19 March 1997

Maturity date : 18 March 1998

Amount applied : HKS2.755 MN

Amount allotted : HKS500 MN

Average yield accepted : 5.50 PCT

Highest yield accepted : 5.52 PCT

Pro rata ratio : About 88 PCT

Average tender yield : 5.54 PCT

Hong Kong Monetary Authority tender to be held in the week beginning - 24 March 97:

fender date : 25 March 1997

Paper on offer : EF Bills

Issue number : Q074

Issue date : 26 March 1997

Maturity date : 23 April 1997

Tenor 28 Days

Amount on ofer

HK$5,000 MN

16

Tender date : 25 March 1997

Paper on offer : EF Bills

Issue number : Q713

Issue date : 26 March 1997

Maturity date : 25 June 1997

Tenor : 91 Days

Amount on offer : HK$2,000 MN + 500 MN

Tender date : 25 March 1997

Paper on offer : EF Bills

Issue number : H761

Issue date : 26 March 1997

Maturity date 24 September 1997

Tenor : 182 Days

Amount on offer : HK$ 1.000 MN + 300 MN

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

SUPPLEMENT

Wednesday, March 19,1997

Contents Page Npt

Legislative Council meeting:

Motion on Radiation Regulation.............................. 1

Trading Funds Ordinance..................................... 2

Passage of TV (Amendment) Bill welcomed..................... 4

Second reading debate of TV (Amendment) Bill 1996........... 4

Committee stage amendments to TV (Amendment) Bill 1996 ..... 5

Fugitive Offenders Bill: resumption of second reading....... 6

Fugitive Offenders Bill: committee stage.................... 8

Long-term Prison Sentences Review Bill...................... 9

Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund (Amendment) Bill 1997 ...... 12

Registered Designs Bill.................................... 13

Justices of the Peace Bill................................. 15

Jury (Amendment) Bill 1997 ................................ 18

/Government’s position.

Contents

Page No,

Government's position on provisional legislature well known........... 20

No plan to reactivate Triad Renunciation Scheme....................... 22

Monitor of licentiate examination by Medical Council.................. 23

Counterfeit goods..................................................... 25

Eight ex-military sites proposed for residential development.......... 26

Promotion of the Basic Law............................................ 28

Quality School Education assured...................................... 30

Information on public hospitals....................................... 35

Safety awareness in container handling industry....................... 45

Deed of Declaration of Trust of Land Fund ............................ 46

Land Fund...........................................................   48

Mail tampering........................................................ 49

Smithfield Extension............................................... 51

Overall unemployment rate declined..................................   53

Unidentified gas...................................................... 58

"Target" buildings further explained.................................. 61

Information Infrastructure Advisory Committee......................... 63

No plan to set up a highway patrol unit............................... 67

Employment of temporary staff by USD and RSD.......................... 68

Relevant Criminal Law explained.................................... 71

Motion on Radiation Regulation *****

Following is a speech by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mrs Katherine Fok. when moving the Radiation Ordinance (Cap 303) Radiation (Control of Irradiating Apparatus) (Amendment) Regulation 1997 in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr President,

I move that the Radiation (Control of Irradiating Apparatus) (Amendment) Regulation 1997 as set out under my name in the paper circulated to Members be approved.

The Radiation Ordinance provides for the control on the import, export, possession and use of radioactive substances and irradiating apparatuses and the prospecting and mining for radioactive minerals and for related purposes.

Section 7 of the Radiation Ordinance provides for the requirement of a licence for a person to manufacture, sell, deal in or with, possess or use any irradiating apparatuses. The existing system requires every seller, possessor and user of irradiating apparatuses to hold a valid licence. The possession licence can cover any number of irradiating apparatuses provided that they are located in the same premises. All users of irradiating apparatuses have to hold a user licence. However, if the possessor of an irradiating apparatus is also the user of the apparatus, that person only needs a single licence to cover both the possession and use of the apparatus.

Fees for the grant or renewal of a licence are prescribed in Schedule 2 to the Radiation (Control of Irradiating Apparatus) Regulations.

When I moved the motion of approving the Radiation (Control of Irradiating Apparatus) (Amendment) Regulation 1994 for revising the fees payable under the Regulations, I noted the views of the subcommittee then set up under the chairmanship of Dr the Hon C H Leong for scrutinizing the Amendment Regulation that the system was not equitable because the same fee was levied for different types of licences notwithstanding the difference in time and effort incurred in processing each type of licence. I had assured Members then that we would recommend to the Radiation Board that it should adopt a charging system based on the principle of equity, taking into consideration the number of irradiating apparatuses involved and the time taken to inspect them.

2

The Radiation (Control of Irradiating Apparatus) (Amendment) Regulation 1997 now before Members seeks to revise the licence and fee structure to reflect more accurately the time and effort spent in processing different types of licences and to take account of the cost increase after the last fee revision. Specifically, there will be four categories of licences under the proposed structure. A Category 1 licence is a licence entitling the holder to possess an irradiating apparatus pending consideration of an application for a licence to possess the apparatus in a functional state or a licence entitling the holder to possess an irradiating apparatus in a non-functional state. A Category 2 licence enables the holder to possess, or to possess and use, an irradiating apparatus as prescribed on the licence. Each possession licence will cover only one irradiating apparatus. A Category 3 licence enables the holder to use any irradiating apparatuses as prescribed on the licence in any premises. A Category 4 licence enables the holder to sell or deal in irradiating apparatuses, or carry out activities that are not covered by the former categories of licences. The proposed fees for these four categories of licences are based on the costs of processing the different types of applications in 1995-96. The majority of the existing licensees will enjoy a lower licence fee under the proposed system. Holders of licences with fewer irradiating apparatuses will no longer be subsidizing those with more irradiating apparatuses.

The Amendment Regulation is proposed by the Radiation Board, which is the licensing authority in respect of irradiating apparatus set up under section 3 of the Radiation Ordinance and its membership is drawn from the medical, dental and academic professions. The Radiographers Board, set up under section 5 of the Supplementary Medical Professions Ordinance for the radiographers' profession has been consulted and supports the Amendment Regulation.

With these remarks, I move the motion.

End

Trading Funds Ordinance ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is a speech by the Secretary for Works. Mr H S Kwong, in moving a motion to appropriate assets to the Sewage Services Trading Fund under the Trading Funds Ordinance in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr President,

I move the motion standing in my name in. the Order Paper.

3

On 11 March 1994, the Sewage Services Trading Fund was established in the Drainage Sendee Department to manage the operation of sewage services, to implement the High Priority Programme of capital works and to administer the billing and collection of sewage charges.

For the Sewage Services Trading Fund to be fully functional under the provisions of the Trading Funds Ordinance and in line with the trading fund concept, sewage facilities are appropriated to the Trading Fund so that the Director of Drainage Services, as General Manager of the Trading Fund, may properly manage the assets. On 26 July 1995, this Council passed a Resolution with the effect of appropriating all the sewage infrastructure existing as at 31 March 1995 to the Sewage Services Trading Fund.

Since the passing of the first Resolution, new sewage facilities funded by the Government have been completed and their management taken over by the Director of Drainage Services. It is necessary to appropriate them to the Sewage Services Trading Fund. Therefore, I move this Resolution to appropriate to the Sewage Services Trading Fund those sewage facilities completed and taken over by the Director of Drainage Services during the period from 1 April 1995 to 31 March 1996. This appropriation is necessary so that the accounts of the SSTF for this financial year can include assets completed or commissioned before 31 March 1996, so that the Trading Fund account can comply with the generally accepted accounting principles.

The appropriation of assets will not affect the level of sewage charges. This is because the Government decided in May 1996 that the cost of depreciation of assets would not be taken into account when setting the levels of sewage charges.

Additional sewage facilities are being funded by the Government through the Capital Works Reserve Fund. I will introduce further Resolutions annually for approval by this Council to appropriate all new sewage facilities as they are commissioned.

Sir, I beg to move.

End

4

Passage of TV (Amendment) Bill welcomed

*****

The Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport, Mr Chau Tak-hay, welcomed the passage of the Television (Amendment) Bill 1996 by the Legislative Council today (Wednesday).

He said: "Video-on-demand offers the potential for a wide range of innovative multimedia services, including new ways of delivering television programmes to the home.

"The licensing framework we have now put in place provides certainty to investors, as well as the assurance to viewers that the content of programme services will be properly regulated."

Mr Chau said that his Branch was now working towards putting the detailed regulations in place and inviting applications for licences within the next few months.

The Government had in mind to issue two licences, he said, but the Executive Council would consider all applications on their merits.

Provisions to regulate advertising were also being prepared, which would enable Wharf Cable to carry advertising within the next few months, he added.

End

Second reading debate of TV (Amendment) Bill 1996

*****

The following is a speech by the Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport, Mr Chau Tak-hay, for resumption of the second reading debate for the Television (Amendment) Bill 1996 in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr President,

I should like to begin by thanking Members of the Committee for their careful scrutiny of this Bill.

I have carefully dropped down the valuable suggestions raised by the Hon Mrs Selina Chow and would take them into consideration when we review the TV market in 1998. As to the Hon Samuel Wong's argument that some organisations were not disagreeable to the regulation of the video-on-demand under the Television Ordinance, we have reiterated our stand many times during a debate in this Council and in our discussion at the Bills Committee, I would not want to repeat it here. The Government is happy to accept these constructive proposals put forward by legislators and these are reflected in amendments to the Bill which I shall be moving during the Committee Stage.

We have accepted the Bills Committee's suggestion that, pending the review of the television environment which we plan in 1998, programme service licensees should not be permitted to compete directly with other television service providers by offering live programming. Accordingly, we shall be including a condition in the licences granted to programme service providers to this effect.

Thank you.

End

Committee stage amendments to TV (Amendment) Bill 1996

♦ * ♦ * ♦

The following is a speech by Secretary of Broadcasting, Culture and Sport, Mr Chau Tak-hay, for committee stage amendments to Television (Amendment) Bill 1996 in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr Chairman,

1 move that clauses 3, 8. 9, 10, 17 and the Schedule under clause 19 of the Television (Amendment) Bill 1996 be amended as set out under my name in the paper circulated to Members.

Clause 3 of the Bill seeks, among other things, to extend the definition of "disqualified person" to cover newspaper owners to avoid the risk of an undesirable concentration of ownership of newspapers and television broadcasting licences. However, it has become clear that the wording in clause 3 needs to be amended to give effect to our policy of protecting the rights of newspaper publishers exercising control of a licensee as at 21 March 1996, while providing that they will become disqualified should they increase the level of their control thereafter. Equally, we wish to provide that if a publisher exercising control subsequently relinquishes control, for example by selling down his shareholding, he should not subsequently be able to increase his shareholding to 15% or more of a licensee whilst retaining exemption from disqualification. Accordingly, I propose amendments to sub-clause 3( 1 )(b)(iii) and the insertion of an additional sub-clause 3( 1 )(ba)(ii).

After careful consideration of the arguments presented by the Bills Committee, we have agreed to delete proposed amendments to Clause 8. The effect of this change is that the Broadcasting Authority will have the power to issue directions to a programme service licensee requiring it to ensure that its service is capable of being received in areas specified by the Broadcasting Authority. The Authority already has this power in respect of other licensees under the Television Ordinance. I am satisfied that the Authority will not exercise its powers unreasonably to require that a programme service licensee provide a service in an area where no effective means of transmission exists.

During the course of scrutinising the Bill, the need for a number of minor technical amendments has been identified both to clarify the meaning of the Ordinance as amended, and to remove inconsistencies. Accordingly, I propose amendments to clauses 3( 1 )(ba)(i), 9, 10, 17 and the Schedule under clause 19.

Mr Chairman, I beg to move.

End

Fugitive Offenders Bill: resumption of second reading

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Security, Mr Peter Lai, at the resumption of second reading debate of the Fugitive Offenders Bill in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday).

Mr President,

I would like to thank the Honourable James To. Chairman of the Bills Committee, and the other members of the Committee for their close examination of this important Bill, and the useful suggestions they made to enhance the clarity of the Bill in many areas. In the light of the constructive suggestions made by the Bills Committee, I shall move amendments to this Bill at the Committee Stage.

Mr President, the Bill provides a statutory framework to implement Hong Kong's own bilateral agreements for the surrender of fugitive offenders, and sets out the conditions and procedures under which Hong Kong will surrender fugitives as well as the treatment which will be afforded to returned fugitives. This is essential to enable Hong Kong to maintain and enhance cooperation with other jurisdictions, in preventing criminals from escaping justice by moving from one jurisdiction to another. The Bill reflects existing practices, procedures and restrictions for handling requests for surrender. These procedures involve decisions by the courts and by the executive, with channels of appeal for the fugitive offender.

7

We have responded positively to the suggestions of the Bills Committee for further refinements to the Bill; the Committee Stage Amendments that I will introduce later reflects this. I shall explain the more significant amendments here.

On the scope of the Bill, the Administration will move an amendment to the definition of "arrangements for the surrender of fugitive offenders" in clause 2(1). The purpose is to permit arrangements to be made for the surrender of a particular person with a jurisdiction with which Hong Kong does not have a bilateral agreement. Such ad hoc arrangements will supplement the system of bilateral agreements for the surrender of fugitive offenders. For practical reasons, the provision of ad hoc surrender in the Bill would increase the number of jurisdictions with which we can cooperate on this important issue. Of course, all the procedures and safeguards in the Bill will apply to such ad hoc surrenders.

On safeguards for the fugitive offenders, the Bill itself already contains provisions to ensure that they are only surrendered for specified, serious offences. The Bill also contains fundamental safeguards to the rights of the affected persons. These safeguards, for example, include rule on the prima facie evidence, double criminality, specialty protection, protection against political offences and resurrender to a third jurisdiction. While members of the Bills Committee are content with these safeguards, they have requested that the death penalty exception should be expressly provided for in the Bill. I wish to stress that even without an express provision in the Bill, the Governor will have to consider the death penalty exceptions in accordance with the provisions in the bilateral agreements which are to be annexed to the order made pursuant to clause 3(1) as subsidiary legislation. Nevertheless, the Administration is prepared to expressly provide the death penalty exception in clause 13 of the Bill in order to address the concerns of the Bills Committee.

On procedural matters, the key amendments that I will propose at Committee Stage are related to the following matters :

First, representation to the Governor by a fugitive. The new provisions of clause 5(3A) and (4A) are added to ensure that a fugitive will be given a chance to be heard, before the Governor makes a decision as to whether or not to consent to his being dealt with by the requesting jurisdiction in respect of offences other than those for which he was surrendered, or before the Governor makes a decision as to whether or not to consent to his being re-surrendered by that jurisdiction to a third jurisdiction.

Secondly, time limit for appeal by the requesting jurisdiction. Clause 11(7) is to be amended to set a clear period of 14 days within which the requesting jurisdiction may institute proceedings to appeal against a decision of the High Court, or the Court of Appeal, to dismiss an appeal by that jurisdiction. Similar amendments will also be made to clause 12(7).

8

Thirdly, discharge in case of delay. New clause 14(5) will put it beyond doubt that a person who is discharged in case of delay will not be arrested and surrendered for the same offence in respect of which his surrender was sought.

Fourthly, identity of the person sought. New clause 23(4A) will be added to make it clear that the magistrate has to be satisfied that the person brought before him is in fact the person named in the request for surrender.

These amendments to the Bill, plus other technical amendments which I will propose during the Committee Stage, strike a balance between an individual's right to liberty and the need to prevent criminals from escaping justice. They do not affect the main substance of the provisions in the Bill. The Bills Committee has recommended support for the Bill subject to these amendments. With the enactment of this Bill, Hong Kong will have established a landmark: for the first time in our history, we shall have our own legislation governing the surrender of fugitive offenders. It marks our maturity as an independent jurisdiction, as well as Hong Kong's autonomy in the field of international law enforcement cooperation.

I note the remarks made by the Hon Albert Ho on the question of rendition, that is to say, the surrender of fugitives between Hong Kong and mainland China in the future. As this is under discussion with the appropriate mainland authorities, all I would say at this stage is that we share the community's concern that there should be adequate protection for the rights of the individual.

Mr President, with these remarks, I recommend the Bill to this Council.

End

Fugitive Offenders Bill: committee stage ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Security, Mr Peter Lai, in moving the committee stage of the Fugitive Offenders Bill in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr Chairman,

I move that the clauses specified be amended as set out in the paper circularized to Members.

9

Apart from the key proposals which I have referred to in my Second Reading Debate Speech, most of the amendments are drafting and technical in nature. They serve to remove ambiguities, and introduce minor procedural changes to better reflect current practices. All the proposed amendments have been agreed by the Bills Committee.

Mr Chairman. I beg to move.

End

Long-term Prison Sentences Review Bill ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Security, Mr Peter Lai, in moving the second reading of the Long-term Prison Sentences Review Bill in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr President,

I move that the Long-term Prison Sentences Review Bill be read a second time.

This Bill seeks to establish a statutory board to review long-term prison sentences, including detentions at Her Majesty’s pleasure, and to make recommendations to the Governor where appropriate to change the sentences. This bill forms part of a package of measures to further enhance the transparency, effectiveness and fairness of our prison sentence review system, and to provide better rehabilitative services for released prisoners. Other measures in this package include a Post-Release Supervision Scheme which was launched in December last year, and proposals to amend the Prison Rules which will shortly be finalized.

Under existing arrangements, long-term prison sentences are reviewed on a regular basis by an advisory board called the Board of Review. Long-term Prison Sentences, which currently consists of seven non-official members from different background and four ex-officio members. The Board’s main function is to examine the circumstances pertaining to the case under review, and to determine whether any change to the prisoner’s sentence is justified. In this review process, the Board considers a number of factors, including the nature of the offence, the prisoner's criminal history, his age at the time of the offence, his response to counselling or psychological treatment, his progress and his future prospects in terms of rehabilitation, any compassionate considerations, and public safety.

10

Although the current arrangements are working well, we believe there is room for further improvement. We propose to establish the Board as a statutory body to ensure that the review process is more firmly based and be seen to be operating more independently. The new Board, called Long-term Prison Sentences Review Board, will consist entirely of non-official members, including two judicial members, one of whom shall be the President of the Board and the other shall be the Deputy President.

We propose to further enhance the operation of the prison sentence review system. To this end, the Bill provides the new Board with additional tools to help it in discharging its functions. First, the Bill empowers the new Board to prescribe postrelease supervision orders for prisoners serving indeterminate sentences which have been changed to determinate sentences by the Governor on the Board’s advice. Postrelease supervision for prisoners serving determinate sentences would continue to be dealt with by the Post-Release Supervision Board. The new Long-term Prison Sentences Review Board should be in a better position to monitor long-term prisoners, since it would have been regularly reviewing these cases throughout the period of their sentences. Moreover, as there is a degree of cross-membership between the two Boards, our proposal should ensure that the approach to post-release supervision adopted by both Boards will be broadly consistent with each other.

Secondly, the Bill enables the new Board to allow certain prisoners to be released conditionally under conditional release orders. With these two new tools, the range of options available to the Board would be widened, thus helping the Board to exercise its functions more effectively and with greater confidence.

When our initial proposals were discussed by the Security Panel of this Council, concern was expressed by some Honourable Members, and some prisoners’ families about the uncertainty of detention at Her Majesty's Pleasure, or HMP. HMP prisoners were convicted of murder but were sentenced, on account of their young age, to detention at Her Majesty's Pleasure, which is a form of indeterminate sentence, instead of capital punishment. Since the abolition of the death penalty in 1993, persons convicted of murder who were under the age of 18 at the time of their offence have been given mandatory life sentences. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that detention at HMP should be treated as equivalent to discretionary’ life sentence, and that a discretionary life prisoner is entitled to have the lawfulness of his continued detention tested before a court, which term, in this context, encompasses an independent Board such as the proposed Long-term Prison Sentences Review Board, after he has served the punitive part of his sentence.

11

We have carefully considered our proposals in the light of case law in the United Kingdom and the European Court of Human Rights, and the relevant provisions in the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. We have concluded that it is appropriate to make adjustments according to these principles. We also recognize the need to give more certainty to the sentences of HMP cases and other discretionary life prisoners. Against this background, we propose that for three existing categories of prisoners, namely, HMP prisoners, young murderers sentenced to mandatory life sentence since 1993 and other discretionary life prisoners, the Chief Justice would make recommendation to the Governor on the appropriate minimum punitive term to be served in each case. For discretionary life cases sentenced after the commencement of the proposed legislation, the trial judge would specify, as part of the discretionary sentence, a punitive minimum term to be served. In all these cases, at the end of the minimum term,, the new Board would consider making recommendations to the Governor on whether the prisoners’ sentences should be changed. These proposals would lead to a fairer and more transparent review system, and would enable the prisoner to know his position with greater certainty.

We have also sought to address the other concerns raised by the LegCo Panel on Security and families of HMP prisoners. On the nature of the determination of minimum terms, we have clarified that the existing cases there cannot be a judicial decision on the setting of minimum terms since the trial and the sentencing have already taken place. Instead, the Governor would be making administrative decisions on minimum terms, having regard to the recommendation of the Chief Justice. However, for new discretionary life cases, the trial judge would impose the minimum term as part of the sentence, so the decision would be a judicial one.

On the availability of appeal channels under the proposed arrangements, there would be sufficient safeguards to protect the interest of the prisoner. In particular, for prisoners sentenced before the commencement of the legislation, there would be opportunities for them to make representations to the Governor before their minimum terms are determined. For prisoners sentenced after the commencement of the legislation, appeals to the courts against sentences, including the minimum terms, can be lodged in the normal way. I should also like to stress that the setting of a minimum term would not fetter in any way the Governor’s discretion under Article XV of the Letters Patent, or the Chief Executive's discretion under Article 48(12) of the Basic Law, to exercize the prerogative of mercy.

We believe that the provisions in this Bill represent substantial improvements to the present system for reviewing long-term prison sentences, and strike the right balance between the interest of prisoners and the need to protect the safety of the community.

Thank you, Mr President.

End

12

Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund (Amendment) Bill 1997 *****

Following is a speech by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr Joseph W P Wong, in moving the second reading of the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund (Amendment) Bill 1997 in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr President,

I move that the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund (Amendment) Bill 1997 be read a second time.

The Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund was established in 1987 with initial donations from the community to commemorate Sir Edward Youde, the late Governor of Hong Kong. The prime objective of the Fund is to encourage education and research among the people of Hong Kong. A Board of Trustees was established to manage the fund and its investment while a Council was also established to determine all matters governing the application of the income of the Fund. At present, the asset value of the Fund is about $168 million.

Over the last decade, the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund has awarded a total of $53 million to about 6,400 secondary and tertiary students. Many of them are now working in various fields in Hong Kong, contributing to the well being and development of the territory.

In addition, the Fund also sponsors the Young Friends of Hong Kong Arts Festival which benefits about 25 000 local secondary students each year. The scheme increases the exposure of these students to performing arts and thereby help cultivate their appreciation of the arts. Recently, the Fund has established a Visiting Professorship Scheme to promote education and cultural exchange between Hong Kong and overseas countries by inviting eminent scholars to deliver public lectures and conduct seminars in Hong Kong.

Under the existing Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund Ordinance (Cap 1140), the Board of Trustees can only accept voluntary donations, subscriptions and bequests. The Bill before Members seek to empower the Sir Edward Youde Memorial Fund Council to solicit donations, subscriptions and bequests. Similar power to solicit donations, for instance, has been given to the Li Po Chun Charitable Trust Fund Committee, which also awards scholarships to local secondary and tertiary students. This amendment will ensure adequate funding for the Fund’s existing schemes and enable any future expansion in its scope of activities to benefit more Hong Kong students in education, research and learning.

Mr President, I beg to move.

End

13

Registered Designs Bill *****

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Trade and Industry, Miss Denise Yue, in moving the second reading of the Registered Designs Bill in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr President,

I move that the Registered Designs Bill be read the second time.

The purpose of the Bill is to establish in Hong Kong an independent registered designs system which is in line with international standards and will continue through and beyond 1997.

Design articles occupy an important place in our economy and cover an extremely wide range of goods such as domestic appliances, furniture, textiles, fashion, jewellery and watches. In many cases, design is the decisive factor in the success of a commercial product. The investment in developing a design can be substantial and the commercial risk can be high. On the other hand, once a design has become a success, it costs only a fraction of the original research and development cost to reproduce it. Design protection is of great importance to Hong Kong and especially to the small and medium enterprises.

Hong Kong’s existing registered designs law is dependent on that of the United Kingdom. Hong Kong does not have a separate designs registry. A design is automatically protected in Hong Kong if it is registered in the United Kingdom.

Article 139 of the Basic Law requires the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), on its own, to formulate policies on science and technology and protect by law achievements in scientific and technological research, patents, discoveries and inventions. Article 140 provides that the HKSAR Government shall, on its own, formulate policies on culture and protect by law the achievements and the lawful rights and interests of authors in their literary and artistic creation. So we need to establish an independent registered designs system in Hong Kong before 1 July 1997.

In doing so, we have to ensure that the registered designs regime meets the standards stipulated in the international intellectual property treaties and conventions which will continue to be applied to Hong Kong after 30 June 1997, namely the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

14

The Hong Kong Law Reform Commission carried out a first review of registered designs law as part and parcel of its reform exercise on the law relating to copyright, and published its Report on Reform of the Law Relating to Copyright in January 1994 after extensive consultation. The Law Reform Commission recommended that Hong Kong should establish its own designs registry with examination capability and that the novelty test for registrable designs should be local, i.e. the design must be ’’new” in Hong Kong. They proposed that the new system, including both the procedural and substantive aspects, should be modelled on the UK Registered Designs Act 1949 as amended.

On the procedural aspect, the current international trend is to provide a nonexamination system for registered designs. Since the Law Reform Commission made its recommendations, the European Union (EU) has proposed a non-examination system as the norm for registration of designs. We believe that by 1999, the United Kingdom will be obliged to change over to the EU norm.

Experience in other countries suggests that even where search and examination are conducted, it is subjective and difficult for the Registrar to determine the novelty and registrability of a design. We also believe that the substantial investment in staff and other resources required to provide a full search and examination of registered designs before grant is not warranted.

We therefore take the view that, as a matter of procedure, a registered designs system with a formality examination is the best way forward. The registration system, in line with the rest of the new intellectual property system in Hong Kong, should be user-friendly and easy to administer. We have received support for our proposal during the consultation exercise held from December 1996 to January 1997, in particular from the legal profession and practitioners.

As regards the requirement of novelty, the Law Reform Commission recommended that the appropriate standard should be restricted to local novelty. However, it acknowledged that the international trend would seem to be to move away from a local novelty requirement, and the sub-committee appointed by the Law Reform Commission to conduct the review had indeed taken the view that the requirement should be worldwide novelty. We have considered these two views and recommend that we adopt the international norm of worldwide novelty as the standard. We have received support for our proposal during the consultation exercise.

The comprehensive Registered Designs Bill laid before Honourable Members is generally modelled on the UK Registered Designs Act 1949 as amended and the proposed EU design registration system with suitable modifications to cater for the special circumstances in Hong Kong. In preparing the Bill, we have incorporated as far as possible the comments received during the consultation. We have also included as necessary provisions to reflect the agreement reached in the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group on the localisation of the registered designs law.

15

Mr President, I will now briefly outline the major features of the Bill. First, Hong Kong will establish an independent Designs Registry. The proposed designs registration system requires no substantive examination. The Registrar of Designs, being satisfied that the formal application requirements have been complied with and that there is no obvious reason to refuse the application, will register and publish the design. Secondly, the period of protection of a design registered with the Hong Kong Designs Registry will be for an initial period of five years. Registration may be extended for four periods of five years each upon payment of the prescribed renewal fee. The maximum duration of protection will be 25 years. Thirdly, after the commencement of the new law, designs already registered in the United Kingdom will be deemed as Hong Kong registered designs for continuity.

With the introduction of the Registered Designs Bill into this Council today, I hope Honourable Members will give the earliest possible consideration to the Bill. While the timetable is extremely tight because we must put in place an independent registered designs system in Hong Kong before 1 July 1997,1 am confident that with the support and co-operation from Honourable Members, we would be able to achieve our task.

Thank you, Mr President.

End

Justices of the Peace Bill *****

Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary, Mrs Anson Chan, in moving the second reading of the Justices of the Peace Bill in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr President,

I move that the Justices of the Peace Bill be read the second time.

The purpose of the Bill is to provide a local statutory basis for the appointment of Justices of the Peace (JPs) and to update their powers and functions.

16

Th? JP System

JPs are at present appointed by the Governor under Article XIV of the Letters Patent. The award of the title of JP has come to be regarded in Hong Kong as a form of recognition of an individual's standing in the community, and has proved over time to be one of the most effective ways of promoting community service by individuals. We consider that the institution should continue beyond 30 June. We therefore propose to enact a local JP Ordinance to establish a Hong Kong-based JP system and also to take this opportunity to update the powers and functions of JPs.

Authority for appointment and revocation of appointment of JPs

The JP Bill proposes to empower the Governor to appoint any person whom he considers to be fit and proper to be a JP; and to revoke the appointment of any JP under certain specified conditions, for example if the JP has been convicted of an offence and has been sentenced to imprisonment, is suffering from mental disorder, or has departed and remained outside Hong Kong for a continuous period of six months or more without the approval of the Governor.

A new JP Oath will be introduced to replace the cunent requirement for prospective JPs to take the Judicial Oath and the Oath of Allegiance. The proposed new Oath is based on the current Legislative Council Oath.

Categories of JPs

Although the categories of JP do not need to be specified in the Bill, we propose to maintain the current administrative practice of having two categories of JPs - official and non-official JPs. We also propose to retain the sub-category of New Territories JPs, who are ex-officio Councillors of the Heung Yee Kuk under the Heung Yee Kuk Ordinance.

We propose that on the commencement of the Ordinance, all existing JPs shall continue to be JPs, subject to the terms and conditions of their appointment, except that judges and magistrates - who at present are JPs by virtue of their office - shall cease to be JPs. As all the historical judicial and quasi-judicial powers of JPs are now performed by judges and magistrates in their capacity as judges and magistrates, we consider that there is no need for them to retain the ex-officio title of JP.

17

Powers and functions of JPs

Historically, the office of JP was a judicial one. Thus, over the years, JPs in Hong Kong have accumulated a wide range of judicial and quasi-judicial powers under various local ordinances. However, not many JPs appointed today have any formal legal training. They are not equipped with the knowledge and expertise to exercise judicial and quasi-judicial powers which involve the liberty of members of the public. Moreover, with the development of a professional judiciary, these powers no longer need to be exercised by lay JPs, and in practice they rarely if ever exercise them.

In Hong Kong today, the main function of JPs is to pay visits to prisons, detention centres and institutions for probationers as provided under a number of Ordinances, in order to ensure that no individual is unfairly treated or deprived of his rights. JPs are also required to perform other duties as directed by the Governor, such as paying visits to other institutions such as reformatory schools, and mental and general hospitals, monitoring the repatriation of Vietnamese migrants and carrying out ad hoc enquiries.

The Bill proposes to recognise the way the JP system has evolved in Hong Kong by setting out the current duties performed by JPs and removing their obsolete judicial and quasi-judicial functions. It also proposes to transfer to Commissioners for Oaths the power of JPs to administer oaths and declarations. Any member of the public who is required to take an oath, or make a statutory or non-statutory declaration may therefore as at present, do this either in the government department concerned or at a District Office.

I am confident that the public will welcome the proposals in the Bill which will enable the well-recognised and respected JP system to continue beyond 30 June. I commend the Bill to Honourable Members.

End

18

Jury (Amendment) Bill 1997 *****

Following is the speech by the Chief Secretary, Mrs Anson Chan, in moving the second reading of the Jury (Amendment) Bill 1997 in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Mr President,

I move that the Jury (Amendment) Bill 1997 be read the second time.

The main aim of the Bill is to amend the Jury Ordinance so as to enable the Judiciary to conduct jury trials in the High Court in Chinese before 1 July 1997. It also proposes to make some minor changes to the list of those exempted from jury service.

It has always been the case that accused persons, litigants and witnesses in Hong Kong courts have the right to use whatever language they wish, with interpretation provided if necessary. Moreover, since 1974, lawyers and magistrates have been able to use either of the official languages in the magistrates' courts.

Article 9 of the Basic Law states that "In addition to the Chinese language, English may also be used as an official language by the executive authorities, legislature and judiciary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region". This means that either official language may be used in the courts after the transfer of sovereignty. The Judiciary therefore drew up a plan to put in place by 1 July 1997 a bilingual court system in which either English or Chinese can be used at all levels of the courts.

The Official Languages (Amendment) Ordinance 1995 was enacted in July 1995 to remove the restrictions then in force on the use of Chinese in the higher courts and certain tribunals. In February 1996, this was applied to the District Court and the Lands Tribunal, and in December 1996 to the High Court for hearing appeals from magistrates' courts, the Labour Tribunal and the Small Claims Tribunal. At present, however, proceedings in the High Court, except appeals from the lower courts and tribunals, and proceedings in the Court of Appeal can still be conducted only in English. The Judiciary proposes to remove these restrictions by 1 July 1997. However, the relevant sections of the Jury Ordinance need to be amended to enable Chinese to be used in jury trials in the High Court. Clauses 2 to 4 of the Bill therefore amend the Jury Ordinance to change the language requirement for jurors from English to "the language in which the proceedings are to be conducted", ie English or Chinese.

19

The Chairman of the House Committee of this Council has raised with the Administration Members' concern that a possible conflict of interest may arise if staff of the Legal Service Division of the Legislative Council Secretariat who have advised Members on draft legislation are subsequently summoned to act as jurors. At present, lawyers working in the Legal Department, the Legal Aid Department, the Official Receiver's Office and the Intellectual Property Department are exempt from jury service. We therefore propose that the Legal Adviser of the Legislative Council Secretariat and his legally-qualified assistants who are in the full-time employment of the Legislative Council Commission should also be exempt.

The wives of the Chief Justice, the Justices of Appeal and the judges of the High Court are at present exempt from jury service to avoid possible conflicts of interest. As there are now female judges in the High Court, we propose that the husbands of female judges should also be exempt.

Clause 5 of the Bill therefore amends the Jury Ordinance to exempt from jury service the Legal Adviser of the Legislative Council Secretariat and any of his legally-qualified assistants who are in the full-time employment of the Legislative Council Commission, and the spouses, instead of just the wives, of the Chief Justice, the Justices of Appeal and judges of the High Court.

Mr President, this Bill constitutes a necessary reform to the jury system in Hong Kong and 1 commend it to this Council for early passage into law.

End

20

Government's position on provisional legislature well known

*****

Following are a question by Dr the Hon Yeung Sum and a reply by the acting Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Clement Mak, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

It is learned that someone in the capacity as a member of the provisional legislature has set up a member's office in the territory. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) any person in the capacity as a member of the provisional legislature is permitted to establish a provisional legislature member's office in the territory, or to use the premises of a publicly-funded office of a member of the territory's various assemblies for setting up a provisional legislature member's office, before 1 July 1997; if not. whether legal action will be taken against the person concerned; and

(b) it will raise this issue in the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group and urge the Chinese Government to honour the undertaking made by the Chinese Foreign Minister and to ensure that the provisional legislature will not operate, not even by way of setting up provisional legislature members' offices in the territory, before 1 July 1997?

Reply:

I would like to take part (b) of the question first. The position of the British Government and the Hong Kong Government on the question of the provisional legislature is well known. It has been set out comprehensively in two statements issued on 20 December 1996 by the two governments. That remains our position. We see no basis in the Joint Declaration or the Basic Law for a provisional legislature nor do we see any justification for it. Up to 30 June 1997, the only constitutional legislature in Hong Kong is this Legislative Council.

We have, on various occasions, made clear our position to the Chinese government. The subject was raised at Ministerial level. It was also raised during the recent meeting in Singapore between the Foreign Secretary and Vice Premier QIAN Qichen. The subject was also raised at the Joint Liaison Group and through other channels. We will continue to make known our position whenever opportunities arise, and remind the Chinese side of the assurance given by Vice Premier QIAN that, before 1 July 1997, only the Governor, the Privy Council and the Legislative Council will exercise power in Hong Kong.

21

I now turn to part (a) of the question. The fundamental point here is the rule of law in Hong Kong. This applies as much to the Government as it does to any member of the public. This is what the rule of law is all about. When people want to pursue a certain course of action, they will need to satisfy themselves that their action will not be in breach of the law. As a general rule, any person can establish an office in Hong Kong provided that, in doing so, he is not in breach of the law.

Still on part (a) of the question, accountable office rental allowances are payable to members of the Legislative Council and the District Boards. The detailed arrangements are set out in administrative guidelines. For the Legislative Council, where an office is used partly for Legislative Council business and partly for other matters, the Legislative Council member concerned may only claim allowance for that portion of the office cost which relates to Legislative Council business. As necessary, the matter will be referred to the Committee on Members’ Allowance under the Legislative Council for arbitration. As for the District Boards, the allowance is payable to a District Board member only if he uses his office exclusively for District Board related activities, or in conjunction with duties of the other two tiers of representative government. The allowance will cease once the eligibility criteria are not met.

In the case of the Municipal Councils, members receive a monthly non-accountable allowance. The two Councils do not have guidelines for members on how they may use the allowance.

End

22

No plan to reactivate Triad Renunciation Scheme *****

Following is a question by the Hon Chim Pui-chung and a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Peter Lai, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

It has been reported that the triad renunciation scheme implemented in Taiwan has been quite successful. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the current estimated number of triad members in the territory: and

(b) whether consideration will be given to introducing a scheme under which triad members can renounce their triad membership completely; if so, when such a scheme will be implemented: if not, why not?

Reply:

Mr President,

(a) Any person known to the Police as having triad membership or committed other unlawful society offences will be arrested. The number of persons arrested for unlawful society offences in the past three years were 857 in 1994, 989 in 1995 and 728 in 1996 respectively. These include persons arrested for being a member of a triad society, those acting as a member of triad society, and those professing or claiming to be a triad member. We do not have any separate estimate on the number of triad members in the territory.

(b) We launched the Triad Renunciation Scheme on 8 December 1988 as a one-off measure to allow people to formally renounce their triad membership, so that they can be freed from prosecution for offences relating to triad membership under the Societies Ordinance. It is aimed particularly at young people who may have become triad members under duress or out of ignorance, so that they can free themselves from the taint of triad membership. The Scheme was suspended on 1 April 1991 after it had operated for two-and-a-half years.

23

We consider that reactivating the Scheme may send a wrong message to young people who might be tempted to experience triad membership, with the expectation that they can renounce it later. Instead of reactivating the Scheme, we believe that we should strengthen other measures to fight against triad influence, particularly on young people. To that end, we have adopted a three-pronged approach: prevention through education, publicity, and social services; enforcement through arrests and punishment of offenders; and rehabilitation through family, social and correctional services.

The measures taken under this approach have yielded encouraging results in our fight against triads. The ratio of triad involvement in overall crimes in the past three years has remained relatively stable at less than 5%. There has been a decreasing trend in the number of juveniles arrested for unlawful society offences in the past three years, with a drop of 10% from 316 in 1994 to 283 in 1995, and a further drop of 22% to 222 in 1996. The number of overall unlawful society offences has also dropped by 4.4% from 1,512 in 1994 to 1,445 in 1995, and further dropped by 21 % to 1,134 in 1996. However, there is no room for complacency. We will continue to accord high priority to the fight against the triad problem to ensure that Hong Kong remains one of the safest cities in the world.

End

Monitor of licentiate examination by Medical Council * * * * ♦

Following is a question by Dr the Hon Huang Chen-ya and a reply by the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mrs Katherine Fok, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

In view of the extremely low passing rate of the licentiate examination held annually by the Medical Council of Hong Kong, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the mechanism put in place to monitor whether the assessment criteria of the licentiate examination are fair;

24

(b) whether external examiners will be invited from mainland China and overseas countries to ensure the fairness of the licentiate examination; if not, why not; and

(c) whether consideration will be given to standardising the examination papers of the licentiate examination and those of the final examinations for the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degrees in the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, so that the standard and assessment criteria of the licentiate examination are put on a par with those of the Faculties of Medicine in these two universities; if not, why not?

Reply :

Mr President,

(a) The Medical Council is empowered under section 7 of the Medical Registration Ordinance (Cap 161) to set an examination, called the "Licentiate Examination", which was termed the "Licensing Examination" after the Medical Registration (Amendment) Ordinance 1995 commenced effective. The passing of the examination shows the achievement of a standard acceptable for registration as medical practitioner.

For this purpose, the Council has established the Licentiate Committee which has the delegated authority to set the Licensing Examination. The Committee is made up of up to ten registered medical practitioners, nominated by The University of Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Medical Association, the Director of Health and the Hospital Authority. The Chairman of the Committee is elected by the Medical Council from among its members. The experience and expertise of the members of the Committee will enable them to set the examination at a standard acceptable for registration.

Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Licentiate Committee may appeal against the decision in accordance with section 20F of the Ordinance.

(b) I understand that the Licentiate Committee does invite external examiners.

25

(c) The Licentiate Committee sets the examination at a standard equivalent to that of the examination sat by students of the two local medical faculties.

Membership of the Licentiate Committee includes four members nominated by the two local universities with medical schools. These members understand the curricula of the local medical schools and their standard. They are therefore well equipped to advise the Licentiate Committee on the standard required of overseas candidates for the purpose of registration.

End

Counterfeit goods ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is a question by the Hon Mrs Selina Chow and a reply by the Secretary for Trade and Industry, Miss Denise Yue, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of operations carried out by the Customs and Excise Department against the sale of counterfeit goods over the past three years;

(b) how many of these operations were conducted following reports made by members of the public rather than copyright owners or their agents; and

(c) of the number of prosecutions instituted by the Customs and Excise Department against the sellers of counterfeit goods as a result of such operations, as well as the success rate of these prosecutions?

26

Reply:

Mr President,

(a) In the past three years, the Customs and Excise Department has conducted a total of 2,057 operations against the sale of counterfeit goods - 778 operations in 1994, 616 operations in 1995 and 663 operations in 1996.

(b) The Department does not keep separate records for reports lodged by members of the public, trade mark owners and their agents. Out of the 2,057 operations conducted in the past three years, 1,070 were the results of reports lodged by members of the public and trade mark owners/agents and the rest were initiated by Customs.

(c) The Department instituted a total of 1,622 prosecutions against sellers of counterfeit goods in the past three years, with 610 prosecutions in 1994, 446 in 1995 and 566 in 1996. The average success rates of these prosecutions were 98.7% in 1994. 98.1% in 1995, and 97.7% in 1996.

End

Eight ex-military sites proposed for residential development *****

Following is a question by the Hon Lee Wing-tat and a reply by the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands, Mr Bowen Leung, in the Legislative Council today(Wednesday):

Question:

The Government has just announced its plan of releasing eight pieces of land previously used as military sites for residential development, with six of them being designated as low and medium density residential development sites. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether, given the current shortage of housing supply, the Government’s intention not to earmark all the sites for use as high density residential developments is related to infrastructural constraints ; if so, whether the Government will consider expediting the funding procedures for the relevant infrastructural projects, so as to facilitate their early completion such that the sites in question can be developed for use as high density residential development sites; if not, of the reasons for not earmarking those six sites for high density residential developments?

27

Answer:

Mr President,

The eight ex-military sites proposed to be released for residential development include the British Military Hospital, Blackdown Barracks and Kowloon Tsai Married Quarters in Kowloon; Pearl Island Married Quarters, Perowne Barracks and Gordon Hard, Dills Comer Camp, Beas Stables Married Quarters and Burma Lines in the New Territories.

The Administration has commissioned two consultancy studies to examine the feasibility of developing these sites for residential use and to advise on their appropriate levels of development intensity.

The consultants have identified considerable constraints in developing the sites. In short, these are:

♦ * * ♦ ♦ *

compatibility of development with the surrounding areas;

topography;

amount of developable land within the sites;

capacity of the surrounding road networks;

sufficiency of infrastructure; and

traffic noise impact.

The consultants have identified a range of measures to resolve the above constraints. Subject to these measures, the consultants have also recommended the optimum development intensity for each of the sites.

We have examined the consultants' recommendations carefully and agreed with the proposed development intensity of seven of the sites. As a result, one site will be used for high density development and six for low to medium density development. It is envisaged that around 7800 residential units will be produced on the sites. As for the last site, that is, Burma Lines in the New Territories, we consider that a further study will need to be done before deciding on the eventual scale of development on the site.

We are already taking steps to seek funds to complete the necessary infrastructural improvements early, and to amend the relevant Outline Zoning Plans. We expect the first batch of the sites to be disposed in the coming financial year, with the disposal of the rest of the sites completed within two to three years.

End

28

Promotion of the Basic Law *****

Following is a question by the Hon Ambrose Lau and a reply by the acting Secretary for Home Affairs, Mrs Stella Hung, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

The National People’s Congress of the People's Republic of China adopted the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (the Basic Law) in 1990, and promulgated its taking effect from 1 July 1997. In view of the impending implementation of the Basic Law, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the measures taken to publicise and promote the Basic Law, and the effectiveness of such measures;

(b) whether there are further actions to step up the publicity and promotion of the Basic Law in the coming months; if so, what the details are; and

(c) whether, apart from publicising the Basic Law to the public in the territory, the Government has introduced the Basic Law to countries and investment organisations which have close ties with the territory; if so, what the details are?

Reply:

Mr President,

The Government fully recognises the importance of the Basic Law. Our efforts to promote awareness of the Basic Law have been made mainly on three fronts: through civic education, in the context of school education, and in the training of civil servants.

Through the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education, a variety of programmes have been undertaken to promote the Basic Law to members of the public. These include teaching materials, information booklets, videos, roving exhibitions, and media publicity campaigns such as TV and radio programmes, radio and TV APIs, electronic display boards, and teleline stories. The Committee has also sponsored projects organised by non-govemment organisations under the Community Participation Scheme and participated in Basic Law-related programmes organised by outside bodies.

29

In respect of school education, the Education Department has issued new guidelines for schools to develop their own civic education programmes. The teaching of the Basic Law has been included in the General Studies subject which is a core subject at the primary level. At the secondary level, students can also learn about the Basic Law through four different subjects. Resources available to schools include the provision of class grants to enhance civic education, finance for teachers to attend courses on the Basic Law, and teaching kits and other reference materials on the topic.

Turning to the Civil Service, the Government has provided regular training courses for civil servants, at various levels, since the Basic Law was first promulgated. In 1996, we conducted over 20 seminars on the subject and more are in the pipeline. At the same time a self-learning booklet on the Basic Law was distributed to all civil servants in order to provide them with a basic understanding of its contents and meaning.

Beyond the Civil Service, the Attorney General's Chambers have conducted lectures and seminars on the Basic Law for the benefit of outside bodies to whom they have also given copies of the self-learning booklet.

These initiatives have been well-received. The sharp increase in demand for materials on the Basic Law is a demonstration of increasing public awareness of this important document. Over 300,000 booklets on the Basic Law for various target readers have been distributed to the public through the Civic Education Resource Centre and District Offices. About 140,000 people have used the teleline stories hotline service since it was launched in August 1996. Over 6,000 civil servants have attended seminars on the Basic Law and over 130,000 self-learning packages have been distributed within the civil service.

The Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education is currently producing a CD-ROM on the Basic Law for release in mid-1997. In view of the increasing demand from the public to know more about the Basic Law, $8 million has been included in this year's budget for the Committee to step up publicity and promotion of the Basic Law in the next two years. With the additional financial resources, the Committee will take on more Basic Law programmes, co-operate with other bodies or organisations in undertaking projects, and increase allocation of funding for sponsoring relevant projects by community and voluntary groups. The programme of activities will include territory-wide exhibitions and competitions, television, radio, and other media publicity campaigns, teaching and resource materials for schools and voluntary agencies, and promotional handbooks for the general public.

In addition, the Government Information Services has earmarked a sum of $750,000 in 1997/98 for mounting a publicity campaign with emphasis on the Basic Law. And the Education Department plans to launch seminars entitled "Basic Law for Everybody" for both primary and secondary school teachers in April and May 1997.

30

We are conscious of the need to ensure that the international community is aware of the essential guarantees that the Basic Law provides for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. This is done through the global network of our ten Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices and by senior Government officials on overseas duty visits. The promotion of the Basic Law has become an integral part of their work. When they take part in international seminars, exhibitions, conferences and so forth, they make a point of telling their audiences about the protections that the Basic Law and the Joint Declaration afford the people of Hong Kong. They emphasise the importance of the "one country, two systems" principle, particularly the guarantees for the continuation of our existing social, economic, financial, commercial, legal and judicial systems and way of life. At the same time, they distribute press kits containing copies of the Basic Law, the Joint Declaration and other information about the territory. Furthermore, all overseas visitors including journalists whom Government officials meet in Hong Kong are briefed on the main provisions of the Basic Law and are given the press kit which, as I have said, includes a copy of the Basic Law and the Joint Declaration.

Finally, the Government Homepage on the Internet carries the full text of the Basic Law. The Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education is also preparing an Internet Homepage which will feature the Basic Law as well as other important civic education materials.

End

Quality School Education assured *****

Following is a question by the Hon Christine Loh Kung-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr Joseph W P Wong, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

The Education Commission Report No. 7 on Quality School Education was published for public consultation last year and a total of over 200 submissions have been received. While the public generally endorse the main thrust of the consultation document, there are a lot of doubts as to how the aims of quality school education can be achieved. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

31

(a) of the numbers of Inspectors of Schools in the Education Department responsible for the inspection of primary and secondary schools respectively, together with the number of Inspectors of Schools in each category with less than five years' teaching experience; and of the number and academic qualifications of Inspectors of Schools for each subject; and

(b) whether the Education Department will consider deploying Inspectors of Schools to undertake teaching duties at primary and secondary schools on a rotation basis, so as to enrich and update their teaching experience?

Reply:

Mr President,

The consultation document on the Education Commission Report No. 7 (ECR7), which was published in November 1996 for public consultation, recommended a comprehensive strategy to enhance the quality of school education. The two-month consultation period has now expired. The Commission is now finalising its recommendations, inter alia, on the development of a comprehensive quality assurance framework.

(a) At present, school inspections are undertaken by different grades of Education Department staff for difference purposes, notably Education Officers of the Schools Division in monitoring and advising on school management and administration, and Inspectors of the Advisory Inspectorate on curriculum and teaching standards.

Education Officers

There are 128 Education Officers working in 19 district education offices. These officers basically possess a recognised degree and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education or equivalent, with at least three years’ relevant post-degree experience or six years' relevant experience mainly in teaching. They are responsible for overall inspection of the administration of both primary and secondary schools in various districts.

32

Inspectors

There are 173 Inspectors in the Advisory Inspectorate responsible for subject inspections. Of these Inspectors, 55 are responsible for inspection of primary schools; 107 for secondary schools; and 11 for kindergartens.

Inspectors responsible for inspection of primary schools are at present required to possess a teacher's certificate from the Hong Kong Institute of Education, with at least five years' relevant post-qualification experience mainly in teaching. Inspectors responsible for inspection of secondary schools are required to possess a recognised degree and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education or equivalent, with at least four years’ relevant post-degree experience mainly in teaching.

Of the 173 Inspectors in the Advisory Inspectorate, only 11 (6.3%) responsible for secondary school inspection have less than five years' teaching experience. All inspectors for primary school inspection have at least five years' teaching experience.

The number of Inspectors for each primary and secondary subject and their qualifications as at mid March 1997 are at Annex.

(b) Education Officers and Inspectors are generally experienced classroom practitioners, particularly in the case of Inspectors, whose exposure to classroom situations is enhanced by their regular visits to different schools of various types. Inspectors are therefore well placed to advise and support schools on improving the quality of education and to disseminate good practices.

Inspectors also have ample opportunities to work with teachers. These include organising school-based seminars, taking part in subject committees/examination boards and advising on various inter-school projects involving students. Through the processes of organising and conducting such activities, both Inspectors and teachers stand to benefit and develop their professional expertise.

In addition, the Education Department has a multi-facet training programme to keep Inspectors abreast of new development in their subjects. Their training needs are regularly reviewed with a view to improving their services.

33

The Education Department therefore does not consider it necessary at this stage to deploy Inspectors to undertake teaching duties in primary and secondary schools on a rotation basis.

In line with the recommendations in the consultation document for ECR7 to develop a comprehensive quality assurance framework, the Education Department is now planning to reorganise the Advisory Inspectorate by integrating staff from various divisions for inspection duties and to adopt a whole school approach. The roles and functions of inspectors of schools will be reviewed in the light of the development of school-based management. The Education Department will also explore the possibility of enlisting the services of experienced practising teachers in the plan for whole school inspections. The aim is to foster professional exchange and further mutual understanding between schools and the Department.

Annex

- 34 -

No. of Advisory Inspectorate Division Inspectors Per Subject Area and their Qualifications as at mid March 1997

B : Bachelor Regret • \:Carttng4»^ »V< Teacher Cettiitaita . ' TeacbferXtruUcaUihd/r

! AnACnft 4 1 1 1 1

* • Chinese S I 3 1

• Cnric Education 1 1

CYC / Erti Curricular Activities 10 6 4

English 2 1 !

General Sadies 6 $ 1

Health Education 2 2

: Library Service / Visual Education 7 2 5

Mathematics 4 4

’Music 3 1 2

Physical Education 6 4 2

Putonghua 1 I

Religious Studies 2 2

Social Studies 2 2

Total for Primary Level $$ 2 31 21 1

s-fa*•"> << x-.'X-X Aed4fta<!/>* Z&uiS&tyr Te adw'Cc^ncito ■ •'<f

Administration <fc Service* i 1

Art X: Design 4 3 1

Biology 5 3 2

Chemistry 2 1 I

Chinese 9 9

Chinese Hutory 1 1

Civic Education 1 1

CYC / Extra Curriedv Activities 6 4 2

Commercial subjects 3 t J 1

Computer Education 7 3 2

Eooftomio/EPA/GPA 3 2 I

English 6 2 4

Field Studies Centre 3 1 2

Geography 3 2 1

Health Educaii on 2 2

History 2 2

Home Economics 1 1

Hons Kong Twchcnf Centre 3 1 2

Human Biology I 1

Integrated Science 2 2

Library Service / Visual Education 5 3 2

Nklhcmatiei 7 4 3

Mmic 4 2 1 1

Physical Education 7 4 3

Phyaics 3 3

Putonghua 2 1 1

Religious Studies 2 2

Social Studies 2 2

Technical subjects 7 3 4

Trami^ A Intpeciion 3 2 1

Total for Secondary Level 107 67 34 S 1

End

35

Information on public hospitals ♦ ♦ * ♦ ♦

Following is a question by Dr the Hon Huang Chen-ya and a written reply by the Secretary' for Health and Welfare, Mrs Katherine Fok, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Does the Government have the following data in respect of each public hospital in the past year:

(a) the respective numbers of in-patients and out-patients who received the following examinations:

(i) gastrocopy;

(ii) colonoscopy;

(iii) C.T. brain scan;

(iv) C.T. abdomen scan;

(v) mammogram;

(vi) breast ultrasound;

(vii) isotope bone scan;

(viii) liver and gall-bladder ultrasound;

(ix) I VP; and

(x) bronchoscopy;

(b) the average and longest periods of time which in-patients and outpatients had to w ait respectively for each of the above examinations;

(c) whether there were any cases in which the patients were hospitalised unnecessarily due to the prolonged waiting time for the above examinations; if so, of the average number of days for such hospitalisation; and

(d) of the plans in place to reduce the waiting time for the above examinations?

36

Reply:

(a) The respective numbers of in-patients and out-patients who received the ten types of examinations in public hospitals in 1996, where available, are set out at Annex A. It should be noted that there is no standard practice of recording these activities in the hospitals, and for some hospitals, there is no breakdown of in-patients and out-patients. The information contained at Annex A represents a best attempt to provide the information requested by manual counting of the number of patients in the records.

(b) Information on the waiting time for the ten examinations in all the hospitals for a whole year is not readily available. The table at Annex B sets out the longest waiting time for an appointment made in early March this year in the eight major hospitals. It should be noted that the priority of patients receiving the examinations is determined in the light of their clinical needs. Urgent cases are accorded with higher priority and the examinations required are normally carried out within a few days.

(c) As explained before, the priority of patients receiving the examinations is determined in the light of their clinical needs. In-patient cases are normally more acute than out-patient cases and as a result will normally be accorded a higher priority. Notwithstanding this, the practice in HA hospitals is for patients to be hospitalised only when the patient’s condition warrants it. Patients who are well enough and are only required to wait for examinations would normally be discharged and recalled back for the examination to be carried out on a scheduled date.

(d) The Hospital Authority keeps in view the waiting time, utilisation pattern and mode of delivery for the various examinations. When the waiting time for a particular service increases, the Authority will identify ways to relieve the pressure through resource redeployment and improvement to procedures. It also critically reviews the appropriate use of various examinations to ensure optimal utilisation.

Summary of Examination Statistics (in 1996)

Annex A

Examination Hospital No. of Examinations

In-patient Out-patient

OGD Caritas Medical Centre 2040 2040

Kwong Wah Hospital 64 64

Pamela Y. Nethersole E Hospital 3703 2960

Prince of Wales Hospital 7894

Princess Margaret Hospital 3362 3783

Queen Elizabeth Hospital 6201 3640

Queen Mary Hospital 4983 3851

Ruttonjee Hospital 1200 1158

Tuen Mun Hospital 4452 1802

United Christian Hospital 3232 2051

Yan Chai Hospital * 4968

Colonoscopy Caritas Medical Centre 240 240

Kwong Wah Hospital 1135

Pamela Y. Nethersole E Hospital 1674

Prince of Wales Hospital 1961

Princess Margaret Hospital 1323 162

Queen Elizabeth Hospital 2085 1

Queen Mary Hospital 1602 31

Ruttonjee Hospital 444 18

Tuen Mun Hospital 53 1

United Christian Hospital 599 259

Yan Chai Hospital * 1324

Examination Hospital No. of Examinations

In-patient Out-patient

C.T. Brain Scan Caritas Medical Centre # 4800 # 1680

Kwong Wah Hospital # 4664 # 1544

Pamela Y. Nethersole E Hospital 3505 820

Prince of Wales Hospital * 7595

Princess Margaret Hospital 4919 547

Queen Elizabeth Hospital * 11803

Queen Mary Hospital 6576 448

Ruttonjee Hospital 1476 660

Tuen Mun Hospital 5530

United Christian Hospital 5613

Yan Chai Hospital 1752 220

C.T. Abdomen Scan Caritas Medical Centre #

Kwong Wah Hospital u

Pamela Y. Nethersole E Hospital 1327 606

Prince of Wales Hospital 3557

Princess Margaret Hospital 2211 117

Queen Elizabeth Hospital 1765

Queen Mary Hospital 3375 304

Ruttonjee Hospital 732 1320

Tuen Mun Hospital * 731

United Christian Hospital 2082

Yan Chai Hospital 446 139

I

GJ CO

I

Examination Hospital No. of Examinations

In-patient Out-patient

Mammogram Kwong Wah Hospital 23 5207

Pamela Y. Nethersole E Hospital 49 873

Prince of Wales Hospital * 1856

Princess Margaret Hospital 57 1220

Queen Elizabeth Hospital 387

Queen Mary Hospital 121 1179

United Christian Hospital 160

Breast Ultrasound ► Caritas Medical Centre @ 4440 |@ 3960

Kwong Wah Hospital 441

Pamela Y. Nethersole E Hospital 4 99

Prince of Wales Hospital * 2750

Princess Margaret Hospital 15 313

Queen Elizabeth Hospital 72

Queen Mary Hospital 80 1128

Ruttonjee Hospital 12 36

Tuen Mun Hospital 134

United Christian Hospital *@ 77

Yan Chai Hospital 4 50

Isotope Bone Scan Pamela Y. Nethersole E Hospital 314 573

Prince of Wales Hospital 2372

Queen Elizabeth Hospital 865 2659

Queen Mary Hospital 553 283

Tuen Mun Hospital 1029

United Christian Hospital 432

Examination Hospital No. of Examinations

In-patient Out-patient

Liver & Gallbladder Ultrasound Caritas Medical Centre

Kwong Wah Hospital 2536

Pamela Y. Nethersole E Hospital 1897 2824

Prince of Wales Hospital * 19137

Princess Margaret Hospital 1731 1999

Queen Elizabeth Hospital * 6163

Queen Mary Hospital 5328 1676

Ruttonjee Hospital 888 1470

Tuen Mun Hospital 2692

United Christian Hospital

Yan Chai Hospital 566 1963

IVU Caritas Medical Centre 360 480

Kwong Wah Hospital 404 455

Pamela Y. Nethersole E Hospital 214 486

Prince of Wales Hospital * 841

Princess Margaret Hospital 602 245

Queen Elizabeth Hospital 2080

Queen Mary Hospital 1005 239

Ruttonjee Hospital 120 324

Tuen Mun Hospital * 761

United Christian Hospital * 1231

Yan Chai Hospital 144 592

I

O

I

Examination Hospital No. of Examinations

In-patient Out-patient

Bronchoscopy Caritas Medical Centre 600 120

Grantham Hospital 688

Kowloon Hospital 981

Kwong Wah Hospital * 399

Pamela Y. Nethersole E Hospital 381

Prince of Wales Hospital 738

Princess Margaret Hospital 475 »

Queen Elizabeth Hospital 741

Queen Mary Hospital 3941 412

Ruttonjee Hospital 564 24

Tuen Mun Hospital 555 14

United Christian Hospital 251

Yan Chai Hospital 144

Note:

♦ no breakdown of in-patient and out-patient figures

# CT Scan examinations in Caritas Medical Centre and Kwong Wah Hospital are not further broken down by anatomical region. All CT Scan examinations in these hospitals are captured under CT Brain Scan.

@ Information on Liver & Gallbladder Ultrasound foe Caritas Medical Centre and United Christian Hospital are not captured separately. The total number of ultrasound examinations carried out are shown under Breast Ultrasound.

ANNEX B


Hospital Longest Waiting Time (days) for the examinations

OGD Colonoscopy CT Brain Scan CT Abdomen Scan

Kwong Wah Hospital 14 17 # 25

Pamela Y. Nethersole E Hospital 44 10 45 45

Prince of Wales Hospital 90 56 150 150

Princess Margaret Hospital 28 35 28 28

Queen Elizabeth Hospital 63 175 30 30

Queen Mary Hospital 35 42 54 70

Tuen Mun Hospital 75 42 52 52

United Christian Hospital 84 210 10 10

Hospital Longest Waiting Time (days) for the examinations

Mammogram Breast Ultrasound Isotope Bone Scan

Kwong Wah Hospital ♦ 4 385 ♦♦ 385 N.A.

Pamela Y. Nethersolc E Hospital 20 20 90

Prince of Wales Hospital 10 10 120

Princess Margaret Hospital 21 21 N.A.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital ♦♦ 311 ♦♦ 311 150

Queen Mary Hospital ♦♦ 220 ♦♦ 175 106

Tuen Mun Hospital N.A. 132 42

United Christian Hospital 21 168 49

Hospital I Longest Waiting Time (days) for the examinations

Liver & Gallbladder Ultrasound IVU Bronchoscopy

Kwong Wah Hospital 21 74 14

Pamela Y. Nethersole E Hospital 150 60 14

Prince of Wales Hospital 30 240 21

Princess Margaret Hospital 15 14 7

Queen Elizabeth Hospital 30 71 21

Queen Mary Hospital 170 90 6

Tucn Mun Hospital 132 224 14

United Christian Hospital @ 63 7

Note: NA.. The hospital specified does not provide the service.

# CT Scan examinations in Kwong Wah Hospital are not further broken down by anatomical region. All CT Scan examinations are captured under CT Brain Scan.

@ Information on Liver & Gallbladder Ultrasound for United Christian Hospital is not captured separately. The total number of ultrasound examinations carried out are shown under Breast ultrasound.

♦* Waiting time includes elective appointments for well women, screening for high risk family members of patients with breast cancer and follow-up of patients treated for unilateral breast cancer.

45

Safety awareness in container handling industry ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is a question by the Hon Lee Kai-ming and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr Joseph W P Wong, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

In an industrial accident that took place in a container depot at Fung Kat Heung, Yuen Long, on 4 March this year, a worker responsible for fixing hooks onto containers fell to death while he was working on the top of a pile of containers. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of casualties in similar accidents over the past three years;

and

(b) whether any measures have been adopted to prevent the occurrence of similar accidents, if not, why not?

Reply:

Mr President,

(a) The Labour Department does not keep separate statistics on industrial accidents analysed by their causation. According to the Department’s records, there was a total of 96 industrial accidents at container terminals and depots in 1994; 45 in 1995; and 104 in 1996 owing to a variety of causes. Over this period, one fatal case in 1994; six in 1995; and two in 1996 were recorded.

(b) Workers in the container handling industry are protected under the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance and its subsidiary regulations. Regulation 10A of the Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Cargo and Container Handling) Regulations requires the safe stacking, unstacking and handling of containers while Regulation 10B requires safety measures to protect persons working on container tops from falling.

46

To impress upon employers and employees in the container handling industry the importance of observing safety precautions at work, the Labour Department has recently launched a special blitz operation covering all container terminals and depots in the territory. Vigorous enforcement action, including prosecution, will be taken against those who breach the law.

Apart from this special operation and other regular inspection visits, the Labour Department also participates in safety and health committees organized by the industry to advise those in the container handling trades of work safety and related statutory requirements. The Department is represented on the Central Container Handling Safety Committee and the Transport and Physical Distribution Safety and Health Committee. The former is a forum for employers in the trade and various government departments while the latter is under the auspices of the Occupational Safety and Health Council (OSHC). The OSHC also organises safety courses for operators in the trade from time to time and produces guidance and publicity materials to promote greater safety awareness.

End

Deed of Declaration ofTrust of Land Fund

♦ * ♦ * ♦

Following is a question by the Hon Sin Chung-kai and a written reply by the Secretary for the Treasury, Mr K C Kwong, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

It is stipulated in the Deed of Declaration ofTrust for the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government Land Fund (the Deed) that upon the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) coming into being, the Land Fund shall vest in such public officer, body or entity as may be lawfully nominated by the HKSARG for the purposes of receiving and holding the Fund on behalf of the HKSARG. Will the Government inform this Council whether:

47

(a) the Deed was jointly drawn up by the Chinese and British Governments; if so, of the principles based on which the Deed was drawn up. If not, why not;

(b) the Government has assessed the amount of expenses required for taking over the existing Land Fund Secretariat and its staff; if so, what the estimated annual expenditure is; and

(c) the Government has assessed the amount of expenses involved in disbanding the Land Fund Secretariat and its staff; if so, what the estimated amount is and whether the amount will be deducted from the Land Fund?

Reply:

(a) The Deed of Declaration of Trust (the Trust Deed) for the

establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government Land Fund was made by the trustees of the Fund, who are duly authorised by the Government of the People's Republic of China to receive and hold upon trust all monies paid or to be paid into the Fund, and to make provision for the proper management and preservation of the value of the Fund. The Deed was drawn up in accordance with Annex III to the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the agreements of the Sino-British Land Commission.

(b) and (c) There should be appropriate arrangements for dealing with the existing staff of the current Land Fund Secretariat after the transition and the transfer of the assets of the Land Fund to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG). This is a matter to be addressed by the Land Fund Secretariat, the trustees and the HKSARG. We have therefore not made any assessment on the expenses which might be required for taking over or disbanding the Secretariat and its staff.

End

48

Land Fund

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is a question by the Hon Andrew Cheng Kar-foo and a written reply by the Secretary for the Treasury, Mr K C Kwong, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Will the Government inform this Council whether:

(a) the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government Land Fund (the Fund) has submitted, at regular intervals, detailed statements of income and expenditure, auditors' reports as well as reports on the Fund's staffing, investment strategies and investment returns, to the Sino-British Land Commission over the past ten years;

(b) as the public in the territory have all along been unable to obtain the above basic financial data from the Annual Reports of the Fund, the Government will consider obtaining a full account of such data from the Sino-British Land Commission and submitting it to this Council; and

(c) the Fund's present strategy of investing in securities has violated the provisions in paragraph 6 of Annex III to the Sino-British Joint Declaration which stipulate that the premium income of the Fund should be deposited in banks incorporated in the territory?

Reply:

(a) The operation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government Land Fund is governed by the Deed of Declaration of Trust (the Trust Deed) for the establishment of the Fund. The Trust Deed stipulates that the trustees shall at the end of each year prepare a balance sheet showing the assets and liabilities of the Fund as at the end of that year and an income and expenditure account for the preceding year. The trustees shall also appoint an auditor who shall be a Certified Public Accountant holding a practicing certificate under the Professional Accountants Ordinance (Cap. 50) to audit the accounts of the Fund and to certify that the accounts present a true and fair view of the financial position of the Fund and that all drawings comply with the provisions of Annex III to the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The Trust Deed also requires the trustees to forward, as soon as practicable, a true copy of the auditor's certificate together with the accounts of the Fund to the Sino-British Land Commission.

49

End

(b) In addition to the publication of an annual report, we understand that the annual accounts of the Land Fund are also publicised by the trustees of the Fund for public information. The management of the Land Fund and the disclosure of information about the Fund are matters for the trustees.

(c) The trustees of the Land Fund are duly authorised by the Government of the People's Republic of China to receive and hold upon trust all monies paid or to be paid into the Fund, and to make provisions for the proper management and preservation of the value of the Fund. They are empowered to make investments under the Trust Deed, which has been drawn up in accordance with Annex III to the Joint Declaration and the agreements of the Land Commission.

Mail tampering *****

Following is a question by the Hon Eric Li and a written reply by the Secretary for Economic Services, Mr Stephen Ip, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number of cases of tampering with mail in street post-boxes (including theft, damage and other types of mail-tampering) reported to the Police in each of the past three years;

(b) of the measures adopted by the Post Office to prevent illegal access to mail in street post-boxes:

(c) whether there are any special precautionary measures adopted during the tax collection period when many cheques of substantial amount are mailed; and

(d) of the number of complaints about tampering with mail in street postboxes received by the Post Office in the past three years, the number of such complaints which have been investigated and the remedial measures taken by the Post Office arising from such investigations?

50

Reply:

Mr President,

The Police keep statistics on cases according to the nature of offences, such as theft, without further breakdown. They do not keep separate statistics on the number of cases of tampering with mail in street posting-boxes.

The Post Office will take necessary measures to prevent illegal access to mail in street posting-boxes. Although posting-boxes have been secured with good quality theft resistant locks, the Post Office regularly inspects the locks with a view to replacing or repairing any locks to enhance security. The Post Office will also liaise with the Police Crime Prevention Bureau to seek advice on preventing mail-tampering.

With regard to tax payments sent in special envelopes provided by the Inland Revenue Department, when these reach the sorting office of the Post Office they are specially segregated and quickly placed into bags which are sealed for safe delivery to the Inland Revenue Department. Similarly, other mail for the Inland Revenue Department is also placed in sealed bags for safe delivery to that department.

There has been no complaint made directly to the Post Office about tampering with mail in street posting-boxes in the past three years, although it has been informed by the Police of a recent case involving cheques being stolen from posting-boxes. The Post Office regularly reviews, where necessary in consultation with the Police, mail handling procedures and inspects street posting-boxes to prevent mail-tampering.

End

51

Smithfield Extension

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is a question by the Hon Yeung Sum and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport, Mr Gordon Siu, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

The Sai Ying Pun section of Route 7, which connects Central District, Western District and the Island portal of the Western Harbour Crossing (WHC), has recently been opened to traffic and the WHC will also be opened ahead of schedule in April this year. However, the Smithfield Extension in Kennedy Town, which serves to divert some of the vehicles bound for Southern District via the WHC, will be completed six months behind schedule. In view of this, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the reasons for the delay in the completion of the Smithfield Extension;

(b) whether the Government has assessed if, before the completion of the Smithfield Extension, traffic congestion is expected to develop in Western District as a result of the opening of the Sai Ying Pun section of Route 7 in February and the WHC in April this year; if so, what interim measures will be adopted to relieve traffic congestion in the district; and

(c) whether the Government will consider separating the Kennedy Town-Aberdeen section of Route 7 from the Green Island Reclamation Project, and instead using alternative construction methods such as building flyovers, excavating tunnels or cutting hill slopes, so that Route 7 can be completed as early as possible?

Reply:

Mr President,

The completion of the Smithfield Extension project has been delayed by a particularly complicated grave clearance exercise. The site for the project required the clearance of 55 graves situating on Crown Land. We had expected to effect the clearance by May 1995 but in the process encountered strong objections to the clearance work. Subsequent negotiations with the objectors over resiting arrangements were protracted. The site was eventually cleared and made available to the contractors only in February 1996 and this has caused a corresponding delay to the overall construction programme.

52

Since the opening of the section of Route 7 in Sai Ying Poon (SYP) on 27.2.1997, we have been monitoring the situation closely. Site observations have shown that traffic conditions in the Sai Ying Pun area have generally improved. This is due to the increase in road capacity for east-west traffic provided by Route 7 (SYP) which provides relief to a portion of the traffic on Connaught Road West.

The opening of the WHC in April this year is likely to generate additional traffic to the Western District. Upon opening of the WHC and before completion of the Smithfield Extension by the end of this year, we estimate that about 700 and 900 vehicles will use the WHC for destinations to or from the Southern District during the morning and evening peaks respectively. To cater for the increased traffic, a comprehensive package of road improvement measures and traffic management schemes has been, or is being introduced in phases, to facilitate traffic circulation, as follows:

(a) Measures already introduced:

introduction of a traffic management scheme involving rerouting of the section of Catchick Street between Sands Street and Cadogan Street to one-way eastbound and of the section of Belcher’s Street between Sands Street to Cadogan Street to oneway westbound forming a one-way gyratory system; and improvements to traffic signal operations at the junctions involved. The scheme was completed in June 1996; and

widening of the junction of Victoria Road/Cadogan Street to provide one additional eastbound lane at Victoria Road at its approach to Cadogan Street. This was completed last month.

(b) Measures to be introduced before the opening of WHC:

* widening of Pokfulam Road between the western entrance to the University of Hong Kong and Pokfield Road Bus Terminus for completion in March 1997 to increase the link capacity of this section of Pokfulam Road;

* improvement of the junction of Pokfulam Road/Pokfield Road for completion in April 1997 to enhance junction capacity and to provide a pedestrian subway system;

* and improvement of the junction of Pokfulam Road/Victoria Road for completion in April 1997. Junction capacity will be increased with the widening of approaches from both Pokfulam Road and Victoria Road.

53

We trust that these measures will create additional capacity to cope with the extra traffic generated by the opening of the WHC prior to the completion of Smithfield Extension.

The Second Comprehensive Transport Study updated in 1993 saw the need for the section of Route 7 between Kennedy Town and Aberdeen to be commissioned by 2007-2011. From an engineering perspective, it is technically feasible to construct Route 7 independent of the Green Island Reclamation, by means of an elevated flyover or tunnel. However, to implement this major transport facility separate from the reclamation will jeopardise the eventual land use in the reclamation area, and impose considerable development constraints. It would therefore be prudent for us to look for an arrangement which would best serve the community’s interests. In this respect, we will soon commission the Third Comprehensive Transport Study (CTS-3) which will, inter-alia, re-examine the timing of Route 7 to see if this would need to be advanced in light of the latest population forecasts and developments. The initial findings of the CTS-3 study are expected to be available by late 1998; we would then be in a better position to assess when and how this project should be implemented.

End

Overall unemployment rate declined * * ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is a question by the Hon Lee Cheuk-yan and a written reply by the Secretary for Education and Manpower, Mr Joseph W P Wong, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the respective quarterly unemployment and underemployment rates in various trades and industries in the past two years; and

(b) the respective reasons for a high unemployment rate in the three trades or industries with the highest unemployment rates last year?

54

Reply:

Mr President,

(a) The statistics on the quarterly unemployment rate and underemployment rate by major economic sectors for the past two years are given at Annexes A and B. It can be seen that the overall unemployment rate declined from 3.5% in the fourth quarter of 1995 to 2.6% in the same quarter last year.

(b) In 1996, construction, manufacturing and the distributive and catering trades were the three sectors which experienced a relatively higher unemployment rate than the other sectors. Nevertheless, there had been progressive improvements in the employment situation in these sectors throughout the year.

In the construction sector where the unemployment rate declined from 5.4% in the fourth quarter of 1995 to 2.8% in the same quarter last year, the incidence of unemployment fell mainly on the semi-skilled and unskilled workers. The higher than overall unemployment rate in this sector was mainly a reflection of the operational nature of the construction industry i.e. the demand for work tends to fluctuate between construction contracts or programmes. Construction workers may become temporarily unemployed upon the winding down or completion of a particular phase of construction, before being called back to work when a new phase or a new project starts. Therefore, while the unemployment rate in the construction sector was amongst the highest in 1996, the median duration of unemployment in this sector was 56 days in 1996, which was considerably shorter than that of 73 days in respect of all the unemployed persons.

55

For the manufacturing sector where the unemployment rate declined from 4.5% in the fourth quarter of 1995 to 3.5% in the same quarter last year, its relatively higher unemployment rate primarily reflects the ongoing relocation of the more labour-intensive manufacturing processes outside Hong Kong, which has a dampening impact on local employment opportunities. In 1996, the unemployment situation in this sector was exacerbated by sluggish export performance. An additional factor was the increasing difficulty of the displaced manufacturing workers, especially those with lower educational attainment and less skills, to seek new employment in the face of more sophisticated job requirements in the increasingly service oriented economy. For this reason, the unemployed manufacturing workers had a longer median duration of unemployment than those in the service sectors.

As for the distributive and catering trades where the unemployment rate declined from 3.5% in the fourth quarter of 1995 to 2.9% in the same quarter last year, unemployment was concentrated more in the restaurants and hotels, and the retail trade sub-sectors, than in the import/export trade sub-sector. For the former two sub-sectors, employment conditions remained slack throughout the first half of 1996, mainly due to the setback in consumption demand and retail business, with some improvements seen in the second half only after consumption demand picked up more visibly.

56

m*

Table 1

Unemployment rates by major economic sector*

(%) 1225 Annual (%) 1226

QZ W & (%) (%) QI Q2 Qi (%) Annual (%)

(%) (%) (%)

Manufacturing 3.7 3.6 5.0 4.5 4.2 4.1 4.0 3.2 3.5 3.7

Construction 5.8 6.2 5.6 5.4 5.7 5.9 3.5 3.5 2.8 3.9

Wholesale, retail and import/export trades, restaurants and hotels 2.6 3.0 3.1 3.5 3.1 2.9 3.3 2.5 2.9 2.9

Transport, storage and communications 1.6 2.3 2.5 3.1 2.4 2.5 3.0 1.9 2.0 2.4

Financing, insurance, real estate and business services LI 1.4 1.6 1.7 1.4 1.4 1.6 1.6 1.2 1.5

Community, social and personal services 1.0 1.2 1.3 1.1 1.1 1.4 1.2 1.0 0.8 1.1

Overall® 2.6 [2.8] 2.6 [3-1] 3.7 [3-5] 3.5 [3.5] 3.2 3.0 [31] 2.9 [3.1] 2.6 [2.6] 2.6 [2.6] 2.8

Notes: (@) Figures in square brackets are the seasonally adjusted overall unemployment rate.

(*) Not seasonally adjusted, and not including first-time job seekers and re-entrants into the labour force.

57

Annex 8‘

Table 2

Underemployment rates by major economic sector

122i 1996 Annual (%)

(%) (%) (%) Annual (%) (%) (%) (%) (%)

Manufacturing 2.0 2.5 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.0 2.2 1.6 21 2.0

Construction ■ 7.8 13.1 16.1 14.1 12.9 11.4 9.5 7.1 7.1 8.7

Wholesale, retail and import/export trades, restaurants and hotels 0.4 0.6 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.6 0.5

Transport, storage and communications 1.8 2.1 3.3 3.1 2.6 3.0 2.3 1.8 2.0 2.3

Financing, insurance, real estate and business services # 0.1 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.1 0.1 # 0.2 0.1

Community, social and personal services 0.6 0.7 0.8 1.0 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.5 0.7 0.6

Overall 1.4 2.1 2.5 2.3 2.1 2.0 1.8 1.4 ’ 1.6 1.7

Note : (#) Less than 0.05%.

End

58

Unidentified gas *****

Following is a question by the Hon Zachary Wong Wai-yin and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Peter Lai, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

On 26 February 1997, an unidentified gas struck 11 schools in Tin Shui Wai and several thousands of people were affected. As it was reported that the unidentified gas was caused by a tear gas firing drill in a nearby firing range, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the results of the investigations into the above incident carried out by the departments concerned;

(b) of the number of locations in the territory where the British Forces, the Police Force and the Correctional Services Department can carry out tear gas firing drills; as well as the number of drills carried out at these locations, and the number of rounds of tear gas fired during each drill, over the past three years;

(c) how the Government assesses the effects of such drills on nearby areas and residents before the drills are conducted, and whether there are any specific rules for drill participants to observe; and

(d) whether the Government will carry out a comprehensive review of the arrangements for conducting tear gas firing drills so as to ensure that such drills will not affect the safety of the residents living in the vicinity of the firing ranges?

59

Reply:

Mr President,

(a) The investigations into the incident on 26 February 1997 carried out by the departments concerned have been completed. It is concluded that the discomfort to the residents at Tin Shui Wai on 26.2.1997 was caused by the firing of tear gas in the Castle Peak Firing Range. At the special Yuen Long District Board meeting held on 10.3.1997, the Commandant of the Police Tactical Unit (PTU) and the Assistant Commissioner (Personnel) of the Correctional Services Department (CSD) have, on behalf of their departments, apologised to the residents and schools affected. The Commissioner of Correctional Services has also personally written to the headmasters of the eight schools affected expressing deep regret for the incident.

(b) At present, the Castle Peak Firing Range is a fully certified firing range in Hong Kong which is suitable for firing a wide range of live tear gas munitions. The range is certified to have attained internationally accepted safety standards, including those on setup and operation which are governed by a set of very stringent Range Standing Orders.

In the past three years, the British Forces have not carried out any tear gas firing in the territory.

The Police Force (PTU) has, since 1996, used the Castle Peak Firing Range on three occasions to fire tear gas. During these three drills, 162, 166 and 243 rounds were fired respectively. Prior to 1996, PTU made use of the Sai Kung area, namely the Po Pin Chau (South) Dam at High Island and a remote area of the coastline several kilometers to the North of Wong Shek Pier. During 1994 and 1995 these two areas were used for this purpose on a total of 22 occasions; the number of tear gas rounds fired on each occasion ranged from 44 to 250 respectively.

In 1994 and 1995, Correctional Services Department used the remote bay behind Stanley Prison on 14 occasions for the firing of not more than 55 rounds. No tear gas firing drill was conducted in 1996.

60

(c) A number of precautionary measures have been adopted to ensure that tear gas used during drills would not jeopardize people in the vicinity. Firing sites are located as remote as possible from areas of habitation. Before each drill, the Police would sweep the entire area to ensure that no members of the public would inadvertently enter the site. This is followed by loudhailer warning at regular intervals, and the posting of duties to prevent hikers and others from entering the exercise area.

As for the Castle Peak Firing Range, there are comprehensive safety guidelines on the use of this range. All live firing undertaken by the Police and CSD at this range has been conducted in strict accordance with these rules, with tear gas being used at a location well within the range boundary. This is 5.5 kilometers from Tin Shui Wai area. Given that previous use of this range for the firing of tear gas has not caused any complaints, the possibility of tear gas being blown towards the built-up area was not anticipated. Also, whenever the range is used for practices, a Police or CSD Officer who is a fully certified range safety officer is present at all times to ensure that all the safety rules are observed.

(d) Immediately following the incident on 26.2.1997, the Police has separately commenced a thorough review of all factors involved in the use of this range for tear gas firing practice, as well as all existing safety precautions connected with such training. It will concentrate on the methods by which such training may continue, whilst at the same time ensuring that the safety of the public and the environment is not jeopardized.

A special inter-departmental meeting was also held on 3.3.1997. It recommended a number of preventive and follow-up measures to forestall recurrence of similar incidents in the future, these include:-

(i) the Police and CSD will critically review their procedures for the use of tear gas during training exercises. Close liaison will be maintained with the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Royal Observatory (RO) in planning future training sessions involving the use of tear gas;

(ii) EPD will provide air sampling bags to Tin Shui Wai Police Station, Housing Department and those schools in Tin Shui Wai which are willing to participate in the sampling exercise. Training sessions on the proper collection of air samples will be arranged for the participants;

61

(iii) in case of possible future gas attack, RO will be asked to provide the most up-to-date information on wind direction and wind speed to help trace the source of gas on site. Where necessary, investigation will be expanded to cover more distant areas in identifying the source of gas;

(iv) EPD staff will patrol the district regularly to monitor all the polluting activities including air emissions and polluting effluent discharges; and

(v) schools will continue to be reminded to observe the circular on how to handle incidents of unidentified gas attack.

All other factors that may affect the use of the range will be reviewed and considered by the departments concerned to ensure that such drill will not affect the safety of the residents living in the vicinity of the firing range.

End

"Target” buildings further explained ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ *

Following is a question by the Hon Albert Chan Wai-yip and a written reply by the acting Secretary for Home Affairs, Mrs Stella Hung, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

In his reply to a written question asked at the Legislative Council meeting on 5 March this year, the Secretary for Home Affairs provided a list of "target” buildings in Kowloon and the New Territories with potential fire hazard and safety problems. As the buildings in Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung which appear in the list are all industrial buildings, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the yardstick adopted for identifying "target” buildings; and

62

(b) given that there are a large number of old private commercial/residential buildings in the Tsuen Wan and Kwai Chung districts, whether the exclusion of private residential buildings in these two districts from the list is due to the fact that all private residential buildings in the two districts are considered safe or that such buildings have been omitted from the inspections carried out by the departments concerned; if the latter case obtains, whether the Government will carry out further inspections as early as possible with a view to including potentially dangerous private residential buildings in the two districts in the list?

Reply:

Mr President,

My reply is as follows:

(a) ’’Target” buildings are identified by the Building Management Coordination Teams of the Home Affairs Department for priority building management improvements. The criteria are:

(i) a possibility of fire hazard, such as obstructions in common parts of buildings blocking the means of escape or sub-standard fire fighting equipment owning to lack of proper maintenance;

(ii) deterioration of the physical structure of buildings, such as the lack of proper maintenance and repairs of common parts including corridors, staircases, roofs, lifts and plumbing systems;

(iii) presence of extensive unauthorised installations which adversely affect the environment and building condition, such as unauthorized structures and extensions in common parts, or signboards; unauthorized use of premises for workshops or hazardous trades; and premises producing various nuisances such as noise nuisance;

(iv) serious insanitary conditions leading to health hazard or an unhealthy environment, such as accumulation of refuse at staircases, canopies and lightwell; filthy water from leaking pipes; improper and infrequent cleaning of common parts; and improper means of refuse disposal;

63

(v) security problems such as lack of satisfactory security equipment or system, or poor lighting in common corridor and staircases;

(vi) inefficient and ineffective building management and poor communication with owners/rcsidents; and

(vii) willingness of the Owners' Corporation/Mutual Aid Committee/management agency to cooperate with Government in taking initiative to improve the management and environment of the building.

(b) As dilapidated and poorly managed industrial buildings were prevalent in Kwai Tsing and Tsuen Wan, priority was given to having Building Management Co-ordination Teams established in 1986 and 1988 respectively to co-ordinate efforts of concerned Government Departments to help improve the conditions of these industrial buildings. Since then, many of these buildings have shown significant improvements through the programme. As a result, these two Building Management Co-ordination Teams can now consider extending their services to cover the residential buildings in the two Districts as well. We intend to commence inspection of residential buildings in Kwai Tsing and Tsuen Wan from 1998 onwards with a view to identifying "target” residential buildings for building management improvements.

End

Information Infrastructure Advisory Committee

*****

Following is a question by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung and a written reply by the Secretary for Economic Services. Mr Stephen Ip, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it intends to establish a body responsible for planning and coordinating the development of the territory's information infrastructure for the purpose of enhancing the competitiveness of the local information technology industry; if so, the estimated amount of funds earmarked for such a plan; and

64

(b) of the plans in place to steer and co-ordinate the work of various government departments in the development of an information infrastructure network?

Reply:

Mr President,

(a) The Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) has recently established the Information Infrastructure Advisory Committee (I1AC) to co-ordinate the development of the information infrastructure in Hong Kong. Its terms of reference and membership are at the Annex. The necessary funding for the IIAC will be met by the OFTA Trading Fund. Any expenditure on projects identified by the IIAC will either be funded by the private sector or will be obtained through normal procedures if they are to be funded by Government.

In addition, various measures are being taken by the Government to enhance the competitiveness of the local information technology industry. For instance, the Industry Department has funded the following projects:

(i) the establishment of a Software Industry Information Centre by the Hong Kong Productivity Council to provide local software companies/developers with the latest information on business trends and user requirements (funding support: $4.9 million);

(ii) the establishment of a Cyberspace Centre by Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to promote and facilitate the use of cyberspace (Internet) among software developers (funding support: $3.6 million);

(iii) the implementation of a Software Process Improvement Scheme by the Hong Kong Productivity Council to help local software companies improve their software development process (funding support: $3.2 million); and

(iv) the upgrading of the Hong Kong Internet Exchange at the Chinese University of Hong Kong to meet the rapid growth in the use of Internet (funding support: $7.7 million).

65

(b) The IIAC will provide advice to the Telecommunications Authority on the development of the Hong Kong information infrastructure.

Within Government, the Director of Information Technology Services maintains an up-to-date government information technology infrastructure. The infrastructure comprises a Government systems architecture which specifies hardware and software standards, common information technology (IT) facilities, compatible data communication networks, a structured set of IT standards and methodologies, quality management and a skilled professional workforce.

To co-ordinate various IT proposals from different departments, the Secretary for the Treasury who is the policy secretary for overseeing the use of IT within Government, is supported by the Computer Strategy Group which comprises representatives from Information Technology Services Department and Finance Branch. The Group is tasked to formulate service-wide IT policies and strategies, prioritise computer projects for funding purposes and to monitor Government’s overall IT expenditure.

An important aspect of the government information infrastructure is the use that is made of it. For instance, the Secretary for Home Affairs is tasked with ensuring that the whole of Government is on the Internet in order to disseminate information about Government policies, plans and consultation proposals. An Internet Resources Centre (IRC) has been established within the Information Services Department in March 1997 to assist branches and departments to set up their home pages. The IRC will also develop guidelines on the potential users of the Internet and consider how best to make use of the Internet to improve the dissemination of Government information.

66

Annex

Information Infrastmctwrg Advisory Committee

Terms of Reference

1. To advise on the development and regulation of the information infrastructure in Hong Kong.

2. To advise on the promotion of the effective use of the information infrastructure for various possible applications in Hong Kong.

3. To advise on technical standards and related issues in the development of the information infrastructure in Hong Kong.

4. To advise on the formulation of Hong Kong’s position at, and contribution to, international and regional fora on issues relating to the global and regional information infrastructure.

Membership

Chairman Director General of Telecommunications or his representative

Member A Representative from:

Each Fixed Telecommunications Network Services licensee Hong Kong Telecom International Limited

Wharf Cable Limited

Internet Services Provider licensees •

Hong Kong Telecommunications Association

Hong Kong Institution of Engineers

Hong Kong Information Technology Federation

Hong Kong Computer Society

Information Technology Services Department Hong Kong Telecommunications User Group

Ad Personam

The Chairman may appoint individual members with expertise in telecommunications, information or related fields on ad personam basis to assist the work of the Committee.

Secretary Senior Administrative Officer (Regulatory), OFTA

The Chairman may co-opt other members to the committee as and when considered desirable. The meetings of the Committee will be open to the public.

End

67

No plan to set up a highway patrol unit *****

Following is a question by the Hon Zachary Wong Wai-yin and a written reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Peter Lai, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Last year, the authority concerned introduced measures to strengthen police patrol on Tuen Mun Highway in conjunction with the implementation of the bus-only lane scheme on the Highway. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the average monthly number of traffic accidents occurring on Tuen Mun Highway during the period when the above patrol measures were in force;

(b) of the average monthly number of traffic accidents occurring on Tuen Mun Highway since the cessation of the above patrol measures;

(c) whether, in comparing the answers to (a) and (b) above, the introduction of measures to strengthen police patrol will reduce the occurrence of traffic accidents; if so, whether similar patrol measures will be introduced on other expressways in the territory on a long term basis, so as to reduce the occurrence of traffic accidents; and

(d) whether, in the long term, the Government will consider setting up a highway patrol unit in the Traffic Branch of the Police Force?

Reply:

Mr President,

The Transport Department has designated a bus-only lane on Tuen Mun Highway since 25 March 1995. To familiarise drivers with the new bus-only lane, the Police strengthened its patrol on Tuen Mun Highway for 4 months since March 1995. The increased patrol was not dedicated solely to the prevention of traffic accidents.

68

The answers to the four parts of this question are as follows -

(a) the average monthly traffic accidents occurring on Tuen Mun Highway when police patrol was strengthened was 28.5 cases;

(b) the average monthly traffic accidents occurring on Tuen Mun Highway from 26 July 1995 to 28 February 1997 was 23.7 cases;

(c) comparing (a) and (b) above, we do not see any relationship between extra road patrols and occurrence of traffic accidents; and

(d) instead of setting up a highway patrol unit in the Traffic Branch of the Police Force, it is considered that the current practice of flexible deployment of Police officers to patrol both highways and other roads is more effective and should continue. In this connection. Members may wish to note that we will create 150 new Police posts in the coming financial year to improve traffic enforcement and control and provide sufficient coverage to highways and most major roads.

End

Employment of temporary staff by USD and RSD

*****

Following is a question by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung and a written reply by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr W K Lam, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Regarding the employment of temporary short-term contract staff by the Urban Services Department (USD) and the Regional Services Department (RSD), will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the respective numbers of temporary staff employed by USD and RSD on short-term contracts over the past three years, and the respective proportions of such staff to the total numbers of staff members in these two departments;

69

(b) of the reasons for employing temporary contract staff; and whether it will review this recruitment policy;

(c) given that the contracts of temporary staff are often renewed upon the expiry of their current contracts, of the highest number of such contract renewals granted consecutively to an individual staff member and the duration of each renewal;

(d) whether any such staff members have sustained injuries while at work over the past three years and if so, of the total number of such staff; and whether there have been any such staff members whose contracts have not been renewed during their sick leave periods; if so, of the number of such cases?

Reply:

Mr President,

The Government's employment policy is that staff should be employed on permanent terms as this will encourage greater stability in the civil service. Temporary staff should only be employed for part-time duties or specific assignments of a short term nature on a casual or ad hoc basis. They are normally employed by government departments under the following circumstances:

(a) to cater for seasonal service needs and short-term fluctuations in workload that do not justify maintaining permanent staff;

(b) to undertake ad hoc duties or specific short-term tasks or projects which cannot be accommodated by permanent staff resources;

(c) to cater for temporary shortfall of staff;

(d) to perform duties or tasks requiring staff on a part-time basis; or

(e) to perform duties in posts which are to be deleted for various reasons such as those intended to be contracted out.

Turning to the questions raised:

(a) The number of temporary staff employed by USD and RSD in the last three years and the percentage this represent of the total strength of the respective department are:

70

As at Number of temporary staff Total strength Percentage %

USD 1.3.95 1,224 16,814 7.28

1.3.96 1,361 17,436 7.81

1.3.97 1,471 17,610 8.35

RSD 1.3.95 533 9,834 5.42

1.3.96 540 9,935 5.44

1.3.97 254 10,347 2.46

(b) Temporary staff are employed by the two departments to respond to the workload arising from:

(i) ad hoc programmes or specific short-term tasks or projects which require special expertise: examples are instructors for interest group classes and exhibition assistants;

(ii) seasonal need and short-term surges in workload which do not justify the employment of permanent staff, e.g. part-time lifeguards and staff for art and film festivals;

(iii) areas of service for which contracting out is being contemplated, and which would entail deletion of posts, e.g. contracting out of street cleansing service and gardening services; and

(iv) temporary shortfall of staff pending formal recruitment, e.g. clerical officers and typists.

Both USD and RSD regularly review the number of temporary staff they require having regard to operational needs.

(c) The highest number of contract renewals granted consecutively to individual officers in USD and RSD are 16 and 18 respectively; the renewal period was from 1 to 6 months. These officers are Workmen employed in areas of service for which contracting out is contemplated.

(d) In the past three years, 108 temporary staff (14 in USD and 94 in RSD) have sustained injuries while at work. During the same period, there have been no staff members whose contracts have not been renewed while they were on sick leave.

End

71

Relevant Criminal Law explained *****

Following is a question by the Hon Leong Che-hung and a written reply by the Attorney General, Mr Jeremy Mathews, in the Legislative Council today (Wednesday):

Question:

Will the Administration inform this Council whether chanting the slogan "down with the Queen” is an offence under existing legislation?

Reply:

Mr President,

The relevant criminal law is that relating to sedition. Under section 10 of the Crimes Ordinance it is an offence to utter words having a ’’seditious intention”. By section 9, a seditious intention includes an intention ”to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of Her Majesty, or Her Heirs or Successors”.

These provisions must be read in the light of the common law. At common law, the offence of sedition requires an intention to incite violence or to create public disorder against the institutions of government, including Her Majesty. Not only must there be proof of an incitement to violence, but it must be violence for the purpose of disturbing constituted authority.

The mere chanting of the slogan ’’down with the Queen” or the making of other derogatory or insulting personal remarks about Her Majesty would not amount to sedition at common law. A court would construe sections 9 and 10 of the Crimes Ordinance to like effect. This is especially so in the light of the right to freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 16 of the Bill of Rights (Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) which may only be restricted where necessary, among other things, for the protection of public order (which is the essential purpose of sedition laws).

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Thursday, March 20,1997

Contents Page No,

Statement by the Governor................................................. 1

Transcript of Chief Secretary’s media session............................. 1

Board of Directors for HK Mortgage Corporation appointed.................. 2

More Government spending to assist new arrivals........................... 3

Regulations to enhance consumer protection................................ 5

White Paper on Annual Report on HK 1996 to Parliament..................... 6

Employers & employees have shared responsibility over safety.............. 7

Arts education vital to personal development: SBCS........................ 8

Value of manufacturers' orders-on-hand in January 1997 ................... 8

Report on Metro mid-term review hearing published........................ 10

BN(O) phased registration programme reminder.......................... 11

British Forces still a power at Sevens................................... 13

1

Statement by the Governor *****

The following statement is issued by the Governor, the Rt Hon Christopher Patten:

I very much welcome the Canadian Government's announcement this (Thursday)morning that they will grant visa free access to holders of Hong Kong SAR passports. This is good news for Hong Kong, and another welcome sign of Canada's close friendship with Hong Kong and understanding of the integrity of our passport issuing system. I hope that the Canadian Government's decision will encourage other states that have not yet made their decision on visa free access to follow Canada's example. I would also hope that states where visa free access is not available will continue to treat holders of Hong Kong issued passports favourably, in recognition of the good reputation of Hong Kong travellers and Hong Kong passports.

End

Transcript of Chief Secretary's media session ♦ * * ♦ ♦

Following is the transcript of the remarks made by the Chief Secretary, Mrs Anson Chan, at a media session after attending a public function at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel this (Thursday) afternoon:

Question: How do you see the possibility that you think Thailand will also grant visa-free access to Hong Kong residents?

Chief Secretary: I certainly hope that when I visit Bangkok next week and I meet the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, I will certainly raise this matter with both these gentlemen. We will continue our lobbying efforts. As you know the Director of Immigration, the Secretary for Security and other senior officials always raise this issue with senior officials that they meet in other countries, and on my previous visits to other countries, I also raised this issue.

Question: Would you repeat in English the response...?

Chief Secretary: I was asked whether there is a conflict of interest in Mr C Y Leung heading this working group. I am sure the question of conflict of interest is a matter that the Chief Executive (designate) will be very concerned about. I understand that he is going to explain how this working group, the membership, how they are going to go about their work tomorrow when he holds his press conference. I am sure he will be very happy to address this particular problem.

End

2

Board of Directors for HK Mortgage Corporation appointed *****

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced today (Thursday) that the Financial Secretary has appointed the Directors of the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation Limited (HKMC). The composition of the Board is as follows

Mr Donald Y K Tsang

Financial Secretary

(Chairman)

Mr Joseph C K Yam

Chief Executive,

Hong Kong Monetary Authority

(Deputy Chairman)

Mr Ronald J Arculli

Mr Alex M C Au

Mr Eddy C Fong

Mr Tom Y Hsiao

Dr Huang Chen-ya

Mr Edwin C K Lau

Mr David K P Li

Mr Ngan Kam-chuen

Ms Anna H Y Wu

Mr Rafael S Y Hui

Secretary for Financial

Services

Mr Dominic S W Wong

Secretary for Housing

- 3 -

Mr Andrew L T Sheng

Deputy Chief Executive,

Hong Kong Monetary Authority

Mr Norman T L Chan

Deputy Chief Executive,

Hong Kong Monetary Authority

Commenting on the composition of the Board of Directors, the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang said, "The 15-member Board has a balanced representation with its Directors drawn from different sectors of the community. I look forward to working closely with the Directors to develop, guide and oversee the management of the HKMC so that it will operate prudently and profitably. The successful operation of the HKMC will over time contribute to banking and monetary stability, debt market development and home financing in Hong Kong."

Mr Joseph Yam, Chief Executive of the HKMA. said, "I am delighted to be appointed as Deputy Chairman of the HKMC. With the Directors now in place, the Corporation can now move full steam ahead to prepare for the commencement of business. We expect the HKMC will be able to start purchasing mortgage loans from authorized institutions and issuing debt securities in the fourth quarter of 1997."

The Directors of the HKMC are appointed by the Financial Secretary on a personal basis. The term of appointment of the current Directors, which commenced on March 19, 1997, will run until the annual general meeting of the HKMC to be held around March 1998. The first Board meeting is scheduled to be held at the end of March.

End

More Government spending to assist new arrivals *****

The Government will allocate $178.47 million in the next financial year for the provision of services for new arrivals from China, representing an increase of more than 160 per cent over this financial year, the Director of Home Affairs, Mrs Shelley Lau, said today (Thursday).

Speaking at a post-Budget press conference on the draft expenditure of Home Affairs Department (HAD) for 1997/98. Mrs Lau said that to help new arrivals integrate into the local community as quickly and as smoothly as possible. HAD had been tasked with monitoring and assessing services for new arrivals since October 1995.

4

A Steering Committee, chaired by the Director of Home Affairs and attended by representatives of relevant policy branches, departments and non-governmental organisations, has also been established to enhance services for the newcomers in a coordinated manner.

Outlining the breakdown of the draft expenditure for new arrivals, Mrs Lau said HAD would be allocated $5.28 million for additional staff to help monitor and assess the services provided to new arrivals, as well as to conduct surveys on new arrivals and assist in the production of the service handbook.

Meanwhile, the Education Department will spend about $168 million to provide more classes and services for new immigrant students. This represents an increase of more than 150 per cent over this year’s expenditure.

The Labour Department will also set aside $1.66 million to strengthen employment and career retraining services for new arrivals.

The Social Welfare Department will earmark $3.53 million to subsidise the International Social Service (ISS) for providing post-migration .services for new arrivals. This shows an increase of 36 per cent as compared with that of this year.

Prior to the press conference, Mrs Lau visited a Cantonese class organised by the ISS Hong Kong Branch for new arrivals.

She distributed to the participants the latest edition of a handbook outlining a range of services for them offered by the Government and non-governmental organisations. She also gave them a Budget pamphlet to help them get a basic idea of Hong Kong Government's tax system and how public money will be spent.

"This is one of my regular visits to centres offering services for new arrivals. It is useful in understanding the feelings and needs of new arrivals, and in gathering views from non-governmental organisations and Government departments in the provision of services for new arrivals," Mrs Lau said.

"We will continue to review whether and what improvements can be made to existing services," she stressed.

End

5

Regulations to enhance consumer protection

* ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Two regulations on consumer goods and children's products, which seek to further enhance consumer protection, will be gazetted tomorrow (Friday).

A Government spokesman said today (Thursday) that the Consumer Goods Safety Regulation and the Toys and Children's Products Safety Regulation will be tabled at the Legislative Council on April 9.

The two Regulations require all consumer goods covered by the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance and toys and children's products covered under the Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance to have all safety markings or labels in both English and Chinese (bilingual safety labelling requirement).

Additionally, all toys and children's products covered under the Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance will have to carry the name, trade or other identification mark and the local address of the manufacturer, importer or supplier of the product (identification marking requirement) in English or Chinese or both.

The spokesman said: "We recognise that safety labels in a language widely understood by the community - Chinese - is of paramount importance to ensure consumer safety.

"We also see the need to ensure that the English-speaking community in Hong Kong, including some 160,000 foreign domestic helpers, understand the safety labels on consumer goods, toys and children's products."

He noted: "At present, there is no statutory requirement that safety markings or labels must be provided in English or Chinese."

The spokesman explained: "The bilingual safety labelling requirement will be confined to markings or labels relating to warning or caution phrases given for the safe keeping, use, consumption or disposal of the products.

"By doing so, we aim to strike a balance between enhancing consumer safety and avoiding imposing an undue burden on manufacturers, importers and suppliers.

"The identification marking requirement enables the Commissioner of Customs and Excise to easily identify the source of supply of an unsafe toy or children's product for necessary enforcement action under the Toys and Children's Products Safety Ordinance.

"In order to allow the trade and industry sectors sufficient time to make the necessary adjustments to their products, we will bring the requirements into force 12 months after the enactment of the Regulations," the spokesman added.

End

6

White Paper on Annual Report on HK 1996 to Parliament *****

The Annual Report on Hong Kong 1996 to Parliament (Annual Report) has been presented to Parliament by Her Majesty’s Government today (Thursday).

As in past years, the Annual Report has been published in the form of a White Paper both in London and Hong Kong. It will be tabled at the Legislative Council on April 9.

A Government spokesman said that Her Majesty’s Government had agreed in 1985, during the Parliamentary debates on the Hong Kong Bill, to produce annual reports on Hong Kong and to lay them before Parliament.

The purpose of this series of reports is to keep Parliament informed of developments in Hong Kong on a regular basis.

The 1996 Annual Report is the 12th such report and the last in this format before the transfer of sovereignty to China. This Report, however, will not be the last report to Parliament on Hong Kong. The British Government has undertaken to report to Parliament on Hong Kong at six-monthly intervals, starting with a report for the period January-June 1997. These reports will focus on the work of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group, covering the implementation of the Joint Declaration, with special reference to the protection of human rights in Hong Kong. The British Foreign Secretary has also promised that these six-monthly reports will continue at least as long as the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group exists, that is until January 1, 2000.

The 1996 Annual Report contains a survey of major events in Hong Kong during 1996. Topics covered include visits to Hong Kong by Government Ministers and overseas visits by the Governor and the Chief Secretary of Hong Kong.

They also include constitutional development, contacts between Hong Kong and China, human rights, Vietnamese migrants, emigration and nationality, infrastructure, general economic and social conditions, law and order, legal and judicial systems and civil service.

Copies of the Annual Report and the Chinese translation will be available, free of charge, to members of the public from tomorrow (Friday).

They can be obtained from all District Offices, the Government Publications Centre (Ground Floor, Low Block, Queensway Government Offices, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong) and the Marketing Section of the Information Services Department (17th Floor, Siu On Centre, 188 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong).

End

7

Employers & employees have shared responsibility over safety

*****

Safety laws do not have much meaning unless both the employer and the employee sides recognise a shared responsibility, the Deputy Commissioner for Labour (Occupational Safety and Health), Mr Lee Kai-fat, said today (Thursday).

Speaking at the signing ceremony of Occupational Safety Charter of Wellcome Company, Mr Lee said this was the only way to bring about improvements to work place conditions, from which we could all benefit.

"The Charter itself is not a legal document. It conveys, however, a very important message: if we are to promote work safety, employers and employees must join hands and work together.

"Employees are entitled to operate in a safe and healthy working environment, and employers should see it as a responsibility to provide the same to their employees. It is only through a spirit of co-operation that we can create a safety culture and benefit for a shared responsibility," Mr Lee said.

He said a proposed Occupational Safety and Health Bill was being examined by the Legislative Council's Bills Committee and he was confident that it would be endorsed in the early part this year.

"We will be producing guidance materials for different major trades on how to comply with the new law. We would clearly take account of the operating business environment of Hong Kong and the practical needs of the workers in relation to their risk exposure and accident records.

"The proposed legislation will net in almost all non-industrial establishments including retail businesses like supermarket chain.

"This means employers of the non-industrial establishments will soon have a general duty under the new law to provide a safe and healthy working condition, and employees too must cooperate with their employers by following safety and health instructions, receiving training, putting on personal protective equipment and taking good care of themselves as well as their fellow workers," he said.

In our view, Mr Lee said, subscribing to the Occupational Safety Charter was a positive way to support the new legislation and the spirit behind it.

End

8

Arts education vital to personal development: SBCS

*****

The community has become increasingly aware of the importance of the arts in education and there is now growing recognition that the arts helps to enhance one's imagination, creativity and sensibility, the Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport, Mr Chau Tak-hay, said today (Thursday).

"And these are qualities vital to a person's upbringing and intellectual development," he added.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of "The Arts and Education in Hong Kong: An International Symposium", Mr Chau said the Government promoted the arts through providing financial support, education and publicity and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council had been an instrumental partner in these activities.

Apart from a seeding grant of $130 million in 1994 when the Council was established, the Government provides the Council with an annual subvention which amounts to $82 million for the financial year 1997/98, a 47 percent increase over that of last year.

An Arts and Sports Development Fund was also se.t up recently with a capital of $300 million to enable, among other things, the Council's Arts Education Committee and Arts Education Working Group to formulate work plans to promote arts education in schools.

"In the light of these development, today's Symposium is a timely event which can sharpen our focus on ways and measures to foster even greater recognition and acceptance of the important role of the arts both in schools and in the community," he stressed.

End

Value of manufacturers' orders-on-hand in January 1997

*****

The value of manufacturers' orders-on-hand for local production in January 1997 decreased by 7% over a year earlier, according to the provisional results of a monthly survey released today (Thursday) by the Census and Statistics Department.

Comparing January 1997 with January 1996, the value of orders of the fabricated metal products industry increased by 10%.

9

On the other hand, decreases in the value of orders were recorded in the plastic products industry (-21%), the electronic products industry (-11%), the textiles industry (-9%), the wearing apparel industry (-5%), the electrical products industry (-2%) and the printing and publishing industry (-1%).

Compared with December 1996, and bearing in mind that this comparison may be affected by seasonal factors, the value of manufacturers' orders-on-hand in January 1997 increased by 6%.

The Monthly Survey of Orders-on-hand covers a sample of some 300 manufacturing firms engaging 50 or more workers.

Manufacturers' orders-on-hand refer to orders and parts of orders received earlier by manufacturers for local production which remain unfilled as at the end of the reference month. Orders received by traders not engaged in production are included if such orders are further placed to manufacturers for production locally. However, orders placed to manufacturing firms for production in China and other places outside Hong Kong are not included in this series of orders-on-hand statistics.

A spokesman of the Department pointed out that caution should be exercised in interpreting the manufacturers' orders-on-hand figures in a single month. Instead, the trend movement of the series as displayed over a wider span of time points should be looked at.

The survey report for January 1997, at $6 a copy, is now available for sale at the Government Publications Centre, Queensway Government Offices, Low Block, Ground Floor, Queensway, and at the Census and Statistics Department Publications Unit, 19th Floor, Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road, Wan Chai.

Enquiries about the survey results may be made to the Industrial Production Statistics Section of the Census and Statistics Department on 2805 6441.

The following table shows the year-on-year percentage changes in the value of orders-on-hand in different manufacturing industries.

Percentage changes in the value ot orders-on-hand in

December 1996 January 1997

over December 1995 over January 1996

(Revised) (Provisional)

All industries covered -7 -7

in the survey

♦ Wearing apparel -1 -5

* Textiles -1 -9

♦ Electronic products -15 -11

* Electrical products +3 -2

* Fabricated metal products + 17 +10

* Plastic products -12 -21

* Printing and publishing -16 -1

End

Report on Metro mid-term review hearing published

*****

The Broadcasting Authority has published a report on the public hearing tor the mid-term review of the licence of Metro Broadcasting Corporation Limited.

The hearing was held last December to gather public opinion on the performance of the licensee as a reference to evaluate its performance during the licenced period.

It also served to provide a public forum where the licensee could explain, and be questioned as to their past performance and future plans.

[Missing 2 pages in the original document]

- 13 -

British Forces still a power at Sevens *****

On hand to assist with this year's Rugby World Cup Sevens will be up to 400 soldiers from 1st Battalion The Black Watch who have been tasked with stewarding the Hong Kong Stadium throughout the three-day extravaganza.

Members of the Battalion's Pipes and Drums will also provide a suitably stirring musical accompaniment at the Opening Ceremony while the Band of the Royal Marines, enjoying a short tour of the territory, will put on two performances on Finals’ Day.

Because of their commitment to the tournament, the weekly Changing of the Guard ceremony, at Prince of Wales Barracks, will not take place on Friday, March 21. The ceremony will resume on Good Friday, March 28.

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Wednesday, March 26,1997

Contents Page No.

Transcript of the Governor’s media session................................. 1

Governor welcomes Philippine decision...................................... 3

Governor visits Tuen Mun District.......................................... 3

Transcript of the Chief Secretary.......................................... 4

New measures to boost private residential flat supply...................... 5

HKMA to raise interest rates by 25 basis points............................ 8

Deposit interest rates..................................................... 8

Residential mortgage survey results for February 1997 ..................... 9

External trade figures for February 1997 ...............................   10

External investments in HK's non-manufacturing sectors.................... 12

Provisional statistics of restaurant receipts & purchases................. 15

/General Household......

Cmiisnis


General Household Survey quarterly report now on sale..................... 19

HKMA signs repurchase agreement with RBNZ................................. 20

Localising bill on transfer of sentenced persons.......................... 21

Bill on retirement and resignation of judges.............................. 23

Public welcome to sit in on BA’s meeting.................................. 24

Pacific Economic Co-operation Hong Kong Committee meeting............. 24

Practise safer sex to prevent AIDS........................................ 25

Philatelic collection set for migratory birds............................. 26

RAF fly in Easter bunny to Hong Kong school............................... 27

1

Transcript of the Governor's media session ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is the transcript of the media session by the Governor, the Rt Hon Christopher Patten, after visiting the Tuen Mun District this (Wednesday) afternoon:

Governor: How are you? Nice to be back in Tuen Mun. The last visit I paid was, without anybody knowing, to see one or two things for myself. And it was interesting today to see some of the improvements that have been made, particularly on the wharf. Any questions?

Question: Governor, do you think that there is any conflict of loyalty at Anson Chan going to Beijing to see the Chinese leader with Tung Chee-hwa tomorrow?

Governor: No.

Question: Why not?

Governor: Well, I don't. Why do you?

Question: Governor, will Mrs Law Sun? be allowed to stay in Hong Kong on compassionate grounds?

Governor: Will?

Question: Mrs Law Sun, with the child who just left.

Governor: I am going to make sure that the Immigration Department gives me a full report on that case. I was pleased to have the opportunity of meeting her and her son and we will obviously look at the case very carefully. It raises some quite difficult issues. Clearly, there are a number of medical conditions which could probably get treated better in Hong Kong than on the Mainland. That is not a criticism of the Mainland but it is a recognition of the sophistication of our medical services. So there are other broader issues raised by the case but I will certainly see that it is looked at sympathetically.

Question: Governor, do you expect that Anson Chan will bring any good news from Beijing to Hong Kong to the civil servants?

2

Governor: I should think that what she will do is have the opportunity as both the present Chief Secretary and the future Administrative Secretary (designate), to tell any senior Chinese leaders that she meets what the situation is like in Hong Kong. And I am sure that when she returns she will confirm what has been said many times, that Chinese leaders value the role played by the civil service in Hong Kong, recognise the importance to a successful transition of maintaining the integrity of the civil service. 1 would be very surprised indeed if she was not able to confirm that that is the case. I don't think that will surprise anybody but I hope it will help to improve morale.

In fact I must say that given the inevitable challenges of the present period, I think our civil service has coped remarkably well, has kept its cohesion, has kept its competence, has kept its professionalism and has kept up its morale.

Question: Also, is the government going to leave the job of tackling the property speculation for the SAR Government to do?

Governor: No, anymore than we delayed acting in 1994 when, you'll remember, we were criticised for acting but we acted sensibly and effectively, bringing down the top price of properties at a time when obviously they were going ahead much too rapidly. What has happened is the Secretary for Housing had a useful meeting with the developers this morning. He is making an announcement, I think at about 5 o'clock, and he will be announcing measures which will ensure that more flats come on to the market in a sensible and orderly way.

Question: Do you think Leung Chun-ying, as the person who is responsible for tackling the property speculation, do you think he will have a conflict of interest to do his job?

Governor: I think that is for him to explain and for the Chief Executive (designate) to explain, not me. I notice what the newspapers have been saying but I don't think I can be expected to answer that question. I am not responsible for him.

Question: Governor, do you think that Dominic Wong and the government are doing enough to tackle property speculation?

Governor: Well I just attempted, perhaps inadequately, to answer that question which has just been asked as one of a series, so I don't think I really want to add to what I have just said. Dominic Wong will be making a statement at 5 o'clock.

Okay? Thank you very much indeed. I am glad I didn't hit anybody with the golf-ball. You can say that President Ford may have hit people, President Clinton may have hit people, but the Governor of Hong Kong hit the ball down the fairway.

End

3

Governor welcomes Philippine decision ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The Governor, the Rt Hon Christopher Patten, today (Wednesday) warmly welcomed the decision by the Philippine Government to grant visa-free access for SAR passport holders.

"This is very good news coming so soon after the similar decision announced by Canada, and will further strengthen the trade, business and tourism ties between the Philippines and Hong Kong. It is another important vote of confidence in the integrity of our passport issuing system and in the excellent travel records of Hong Kong passport holders.

"I am particularly grateful to President Ramos, who took a great interest in this issue when I first raised it with him during my visit to the Philippines in December 1995. This was reflected by the very positive discussions our Director of Immigration, Mrs Regina Ip, had with Philippine Government officials on two subsequent visits to Manila to press the Hong Kong case.

’’The Philippines is now the second ASEAN country along with Singapore to grant visa-free access for SAR passport holders. I very much hope that the Philippine decision will be the precursor to similar decisions by other ASEAN countries.”

The Governor noted that he had been informed of the decision by letter today from the Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Mr Domingo L Siazon Jr., who will be visiting Hong Kong between April 3-5.

"I look forward to thanking Mr Siazon personally when he visits me at Government House on April 4,” Mr Patten said.

End

Governor visits Tuen Mun District *****

The Governor, the Rt Hon Christopher Patten and Mrs Patten, visited Tuen Mun this (Wednesday) afternoon to bring himself up-to-date on the latest developments in the district.

He was accompanied by the Director of Home Affairs, Mrs Shelley Lau, and the Tuen Mun District Officer, Mr Patrick Chan.

4

His first stop was the Tuen Mun Golf Centre, the first public golf centre open for public use since February 1995.

The party then proceeded to Chan Chun Ha Yee Tsui House in Butterfly area. Opened by the Society for the Rehabilitation of Offenders, it is the only halfway house for the rehabilitation of female ex-prisoners with mental illness. It provides home-like living environment as well as rehabilitative and educational programmes and arranges community involvement activities.

Mr Patten next visited the Public Cargo Working Area (PCWA) at Area 16 which was opened on August 10, 1996 and watched the PCWA operation from the roof of the Administration Building.

Before concluding his tour, the Governor met with Tuen Mun District Board members and local community leaders at a tea reception at the Gold Coast Yacht and Country Club.

End

Transcript of the Chief Secretary ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Following is the transcript of the media session by the Chief Secretary, Mrs Anson Chan, upon her return from Thailand at the airport this (Wednesday) afternoon:

Question: What... you think ... that will be an agreement on right of abode?

Chief Secretary: I have not said that there will be an agreement. What I did say in reply to a question was that the details of the package affecting right of abode were almost there. I think we’ve reached agreement on most of the substantive issues. There are still a number of minor details to be sorted out. And as this is a matter that is of great concern to Hong Kong people and also to businessmen living and working in Hong Kong, I very much hope that it would be possible for both sides to announce agreement on a total package very very soon.

Question: ... of the human rights ... when you go to Beijing tomorrow?

Chief Secretary: I will, of course, be discussing with Chinese leaders a range of transitional issues and I will take this opportunity to reflect to leaders any concerns that Hong Kong people may have.

5

Question: Which leaders that you will be meeting?

Chief Secretary: As far as I understand I shall be meeting Mr Li Peng and also Mr Lu Ping. I am not really very clear about the details, as you know I have been away for the last two days.

Question: So you will definitely bring up the human rights issues ...?

Chief Secretary: I will be discussing, as I said, a range of transitional issues with Chinese leaders.

End

New measures to boost private residential flat supply ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The Secretary for Housing, Mr Dominic Wong, said today (Wednesday) that the Government has considered carefully various suggestions made by developers and the public to increase flat supply in the private sector and has decided to make three adjustments to the conditions of consent for the pre-sale of uncompleted flats.

The adjustments, which will be effective immediately and will apply to new applications for pre-sale consents, are:

* First, the pre-sale period will be extended from the existing 12 months to 15 months before the estimated date of completion of the development.

"We estimate that about 5,000 flats can be put onto the market earlier. This will provide more choices of flats and benefit home buyers. It will also help to improve property developers' liquidity and reduce the finance charges they bear," Mr Wong said.

In 1996, 31 pre-sale consents, involving 13,115 flats were approved. In the first two and a half months of this year, six consents involving about 5,000 flats have already been granted.

"The measure will enable more flats to come on stream earlier," he said.

* Second, a new condition will be imposed to require property developers to put all flats for pre-sale onto the market within six months of the date of consent given.

6

"This will promote greater certainty of flat supply, and is in line with the spirit of giving pre-sale consent to property developers," Mr Wong said.

* Third, developers will be required to put a reasonable quantity of flats onto the market for each batch of pre-sale, e.g. not less than 20% of flats for each batch.

"The marketing strategy adopted by some property developers to release flats in very small batches tends to create an impression of artificial shortage, reduces choices, increases competition and thus make buyers less able to take informed decisions. The adjustment will ensure that a reasonable number of flats will be put onto the market each time, thus avoiding distorted market information and benefiting home buyers," Mr Wong said.

"The three adjustments announced today represent further steps taken by the Government to boost flat supply," Mr Wong said.

"Similarly, to increase the supply of pre-sale flats in the public sector, we have decided to extend the pre-sale period of subsidised home ownership flats (Home Ownership Scheme/Private Sector Participation Scheme) from the existing limit of 12 - 18 months to 24 months. The extension will enable 13,000 subsidised home ownership flats to be put onto the market ear)'er, in addition to private flats, thus boosting the overall supply situation," he said.

As regards subsidised home ownership flats, Mr Wong reminded owners, "The sale or lease of such a flat, other than to the Housing Authority, before the elapse of the restriction period of ten years from the date of assignment and the balance of premium has been paid, is a grave offence. The owner will be liable to prosecution, and to a maximum fine of $500,000 and to imprisonment of up to one year."

In order to reduce opportunities for speculation by confirmors in subsidised home ownership flats, for which the ten-year resale restriction period has expired, Mr Wong said, "We will ask the Housing Authority to speed up the process of premium assessment and to shorten the period for premium repayment."

Mr Wong said: "The ultimate solution to tackle speculation and to soften price escalation lies in the production of more land for housing development. We are determined to do everything we can to meet our announced housing targets of facilitating the production of 195,000 private flats in the six-year planning period from 1995/96 to 2000-01.

7

"As a result of an increase in land allocation for housing in the past two years, flat supply will increase steadily from 1997 onwards: to about 22,000 units in 1997, about 36,000 units in 1998, and more in the years to follow.

"At the top end of the market, the Government will dispose of surplus staff quarters to ease supply. We expect to sell up to 400 such flats in 1997-98. This represents about 25% of the annual supply of large flats, and is a substantial addition to the market.

"Apart from new flats, there are still some 34,000 vacant private flats in the market at the end of 1996. On average, fewer than 25,000 flats are taken up each year: for example, 20,500 units in 1996. There is sufficient supply to meet demand, especially in the mass market, and there is no cause for panic buying," Mr Wong said.

"In the next five years, we plan to release 587 hectares of land for housing development (327 hectares for public housing and 260 hectares for private housing), which represents an increase of 46% over the past five years. For private housing, the amount even represents 80% increase over the past five years.

"Apart from relying on new land, change in land use and increase in plot ratio are good sources of additional land and flat supply. In this regard, we have decided to convert about 100 hectares of industrial land into residential use in the next two to three years. We will also review the maximum permissible plot ratios on a case by case basis where infrastructure permits," he emphasised.

"The Government will take all necessary steps to identify land for housing and to accelerate housing production by streamlining and speeding up procedures for housing construction. A special task force, led by the Financial Secretary, will be set up shortly to examine these issues," he said.

End

8

HKMA to raise interest rates by 25 basis points *****

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) announced this morning (Wednesday) an increase in the key interest rates, the Liquidity Adjustment Facility (LAF) rates, by 25 basis points with immediate effect.

In line with the 25 basis points increase in the US Fed Funds Target Rate announced by the Federal Open Market Committee last night, the HKMA increased the LAF bid and offer rates to 4.25% and 6.25% from 4% and 6% respectively.

The HKMA has changed the reference rate for setting the LAF rates to the US Fed Funds Target Rate from the US Discount Rate since September 1996, with a view to aligning the LAF bid and offer rates more closely in line with the US dollar market interest rates.

The determination of the best lending rate and interests rates on deposits with maturities of seven days or more is a matter for individual banks. The interest rates on retail deposits with maturities of less than seven days will be determined by the Hong Kong Association of Banks, having regard to the action taken this morning by the HKMA.

End

Deposit interest rates

*****

With effect from March 27, 1997 (Thursday), the maximum interest rates payable for retail deposits in Hong Kong dollars by licensed banks are increased to the following:

Savings

4.00%

24 Hours’ Call/Notice 4.00%

The above rates, which represent an increase of 1/4% across the board, were decided upon at today’s meeting of the Committee of the Hong Kong Association of Banks in response to developments in interest rates in the United States and firmer interest rates in the local money market.

End

9

Residential mortgage survey results for February 1997 *****

The pace of new mortgage lending slowed somewhat in February according to the results of the latest monthly survey conducted by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

Gross new loans made during the month fell by 8.9% to $18.8 billion. The average size of new loans rose to $1.83 million compared with $1.58 million in January.

New loans approved during the month fell sharply, by 23.0% to $18.0 billion. Loans approved during the month but not yet drawn dropped by 27.3% from the record high of $15.0 billion in January to $10.9 billion in February.

Despite the slowdown in new lending, the amount of outstanding loans continued to rise rapidly in February, by 2.7% to $347.9 billion. This reflected a sharp fall in the amount of repayments made during the month.

The average rate of growth of outstanding loans in the three months to February increased to 34.3% (annualized) from 29.9% in the three months to January. The average change over the last twelve months rose to 22.0% in February.

’’The slower pace of new mortgage lending in February coincided with the Lunar New Year Holiday and a sharp fall in the amount of new properties released to the market,” said Mr David Carse, Deputy Chief Executive of HKMA. ’’The pace of lending seems likely to pick up again in March in line with the revival of primary market activity."

Figures recently collected by the HKMA show that lending institutions continue to compete actively on price. Of new loans approved during February, 44% had a margin of 0.25% above best lending rate, compared with 30% in January.

"In current market conditions we continue to stress that infetitutions should maintain prudent lending criteria," Mr Carse said. "For example, we have recently advised institutions to resist suggestions that they should reduce or waive the charges for early repayment of mortgage loans since that could give encouragement to speculation."

Gross new loans for the purchase of properties in China fell to $93 million in February from $132 million in January. The amount of outstanding loans increased by 0.26% to $6.5 billion.

End

10

External trade figures for February 1997 ♦ ♦ * ♦ ♦

In February 1997, the value of Hong Kong's imports showed a notable increase over a year earlier, while that of re-exports registered only a marginal increase. Domestic exports continued to decline on a year-on-year basis.

These are shown in the external trade figures for February 1997 released today (Wednesday) by the Census and Statistics Department.

The value of total exports (comprising re-exports and domestic exports) in February 1997 decreased by 1.5% over a year earlier to $89.1 billion. Within total exports, the value of re-exports increased marginally by 0.3% to $76.5 billion, but the value of domestic exports decreased by 11% to $12.6 billion.

The value of imports increased by 6.6% in February 1997 over a year earlier to $102.3 billion.

As the value of total exports in February 1997 was smaller than that of total imports, a visible trade deficit of $13.2 billion, equivalent to 13% of the value of imports, was recorded. This was larger than the corresponding deficit of $5.6 billion, equivalent to 5.8% of the value of imports, in February 1996.

In the first two months of 1997, the value of total exports dropped by 1.0% over the same period last year. Amongst this, the value of re-exports rose by 0.6%, while that of domestic exports decreased by 10%. The value of imports showed an increase of 3.4%. Over the same period, a visible trade deficit of $25.6 billion, equivalent to 11% of the value of imports, was recorded. This was larger than the deficit of $15.6 billion, equivalent to 6.9% of the value of imports, recorded in the first two months of 1996.

Commenting on the latest trade figures, a Government spokesman said that export performance in the first two months of 1997 remained under the influence of the strong US dollar. Also, the earlier dispute with the US on the quota for textiles and clothing exports could have continued to dampen these domestic exports. Meanwhile, reflecting a stronger domestic demand, the value of retained imports showed a marked increase of 8.7% over a year earlier.

The table annexed presents the external trade figures in February 1997.

A more detailed analysis of Hong Kong’s external trade for February 1997, by commodity and country, will be released in mid-April 1997.

11

Census and Statistics Department

Hong Kong

External Trade Figures for February 1997 (HKS Million) 0W

MERCHANDISE TRADE VALVES for February 1997 - ith ~ fl brif5nuo5?

Domestic Exports 12,594

Re-exports Wa 76,465

Total Exports ftOtha 89,059

Imports itc 102,273

Trade balance -13,214

Change S10

Current month compared February 1997 February 1996 Value %

with same month last year —AAA$—fl S’fl*

Domestic Exports «ffia“ciEn 12.594 14,192 -1,598 -11.3

(% of Total Exports) (14.1%) (15.7%)

Re-oxports 76.465 76227 +238 +0.3

Total Exports 89,059 90,419 -1.360 -1.5

Imports Ma 102,273 95,974 +6,299 +6.6

Trade balance -13314 -5,555 -7.659

Current month compared February 1997 January 1997

with last month

Domestic Exports 12,594 17274 -4,681 -27.1

(% of Total Exports) (ttMajnSfltt) (14.1%) (14.5%)

Re-exports 76,465 102,100 -25,634 •25.1

Total Exports neon 89,059 119,374 -30315 •25.4

Imports ata 102,273 131,765 -29,493 •22.4

Trade balance -13,214 •12,392 -823

Dec 96 to Feb 97 Dec 95 to Feb 96

Latest 3 months compared with AA^±Zlfl

same period 12 months earlier £A-t^-fl SAA^rfl

Domestic Exports je«tStiia 48.085 53343 -5,258 -9.9

(% of Total Exports) (14.8%) (16.4%)

Re-exports Ha 277,002 272,572 +4,430 +1.6

Total Exports 325,087 325,915 -828 -0.3

Imports iga 365,403 353,896 +11,507 +3.3

Trade balance -40316 -27,981 -12.335

Calendar year- to-date compared Jan-Feb 1997 Jan-Feb 1996

with same period last year AA^-flS-fl

Domestic Exports 29,868 33,185 •3317 -10.0

(% of Total Exports) (ttMtBOTfrtt) (14.3%) (15.8%)

Re-exports Wa 178,565 177,419 +1,146 +0.6

Total Exports smta 208.433 210,604 -2,171 -1.0

Imports iga 234,038 226,252 +7,786 +3.4

Trade balance -25,606 -15,648 •9.957

Mar 96 to Feb 97 Mar 95 to Feb 96

Last 12 months compared with AA^Hfl Afi^Hfl

same period 12 months earlier +-fflflfflWffitt £At*P~fl £AA$“fl

Domestic Exports ja®ft±a 208.842 231,900 -23.058 -9.9

(% of Total Exports) (ttMHSDSatt) (15.0%) (16.9%)

Re-exports Wa 1,186,904 1,136,729 +50,175 +4.4

Total Exports «naia 1395.746 1.368,630 +27,116 +2.0

Imports ^a 1,543,368 1,512,724 +30,644 +2.0

Trade balance -147,622 -144,094 -3,528

Note Value of domestic exports and value of re-exports may not

add up to the value of total expons due to rounding.

This sheet can be obtained free of charge from

Trade Statistics Dissemination Section

Census and Statistics Department

Address 19/F. Wanchat Tower, 12 Harbour Road. Wan Chai. HK.

Tel 2582 4915 Fax 2802 1101 TO : 2582 4915 ■ 2802 HOI 3/97

End

12

External investments in HK’s non-manufacturing sectors ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

At the end of 1995, the stock of inward direct investments in the non-manufacturing sectors of Hong Kong totalled $487.3 billion, 6% higher than the amount at the end of 1994 , according to the results of the latest round of a survey on external investments in non-manufacturing sectors released today (Wednesday) by the Census and Statistics Department.

Analysed by individual investor country/territory, the United Kingdom was the largest investor country, accounting for 29% ($143.1 billion) of the total at the end of 1995. This was followed by China and Japan, which accounted for 21% ($104.6 billion) and 14% ($69.9 billion) of the total respectively. The United States of America was the fourth largest investor country and accounted for 12% ($58.8 billion) of the total. Taken together, these four investor countries accounted for around 77% of the total value of the stock of inward direct investments in the non-manufacturing sectors of Hong Kong.

On the conceptual aspects, a spokesman for the Census and Statistics Department explained, ’’Inward direct investments refer to investments in a Hong Kong enterprise by a non-Hong Kong resident investor who has a lasting interest in and an influence over the management of the enterprise. The stock of inward direct investments is a measure of the cumulative amount of funds (including equity capital, reinvested earnings and loan capital, if any) provided by external direct investors.”

Analysed by business sector, banks and deposit-taking companies attracted the largest share (40% or $193.6 billion) of the total value of the stock of inward direct investments in the non-manufacturing sectors at the end of 1995.

Inward direct investments through holding companies was another salient feature and these accounted for 22% ($107.4 billion) of the total.

The spokesman cautioned, ’’The top company of an enterprise is taken as the reporting unit in the survey. Since detailed data on the subsidiaries are not available, the statistics on inward direct investments at sectoral level can only be based on the business activity of the top company. Thus, the present statistics do not necessarily reflect the sectoral distribution of inward direct investments."

The Industry Department has been conducting a similar survey in respect of the manufacturing sector. Based on the findings of these two complementary surveys, the overall total of the stock of inward direct investments in the manufacturing and nonmanufacturing sectors taken together amounted to $532.6 billion at the end of 1995, 7% higher than the amount at the end of 1994. The share of the manufacturing sector in the overall total was around 9%.

13

In terms of the overall total of the stock of inward direct investments in the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors taken together, the United Kingdom ($145.4 billion or 27%), China ($107.5 billion or 20%), Japan ($87.6 billion or 16%) and the United States of America ($71.7 billion or 13%) remained to be the four largest investor countries, accounting for some 77% of the overall total at the end of 1995.

To facilitate economic analyses for different purposes, an alternative measure in terms of net assets attributable to inward direct investments is also compiled. The main difference between ’’stock of inward direct investments” and ’’net assets attributable to inward direct investments" is that the latter includes third-party loans (notably bank loans) which are not provided by the external direct investor. Both sets of statistics have their own technical basis and analytical purposes.

The total value of net assets attributable to inward direct investments in the non-manufacturing sectors of Hong Kong amounted to $729.5 billion at the end of 1995, an increase of 11% over the amount at the end of 1994.

In terms of the total value of net assets attributable to inward direct investments in the non-manufacturing sectors, the largest contributors were Japan (24% of the total or $172.7 billion), the United Kingdom (22% or $163.4 billion), China (20% or $145.7 billion), and the United States of America (11% or $80.2 billion). When compared with the analysis based on the stock of inward direct investments in the nonmanufacturing sectors, the share of Japan was slightly higher than those of the United Kingdom and China, reflecting the higher gearing ratio of enterprises of Japanese interest.

Putting together findings of the two complementary surveys on the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors, the overall total value of net assets attributable to inward direct investments in Hong Kong amounted to $777.8 billion at the end of 1995, an increase of 11% over the amount at the end of 1994.

As regards the investment environment of Hong Kong, firms in the nonmanufacturing sectors ranked the following factors as the most important considerations for making investments in Hong Kong: banking and financial facilities, infrastructure, and government economic policy. In sum, over four-fifths of the firms considered the overall investment environment of Hong Kong favourable.

14

Table 1 shows the total value of the stock of inward direct investments in Hong Kong’s non-manufacturing sectors in the years 1994 and 1995, with breakdowns by major investor country/territory. An overall picture of the stock of inward direct investments in the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors taken together is presented in Table 2.

Details of the survey results will be published in a full report available for sale around early May 1997.

Enquiries about the survey results may be directed to the General Economic Surveys Section of the Census and Statistics Department on 2805 6437.

Table 1

Stock of inward direct investments in Hong Kong's non-manufacturing sectors

Major investor country 1994 (HK$ Bn) 1995 (HK$ Bn) 1995/1994 (% change)

Total 459.9 487.3 + 6%

United Kingdom 140.7 143.1 + 2%

China 92.4 104.6 +13 %

Japan 73.6 69.9 - 5%

United States of America 53.1 58.8 +11 %

Others 100.1 110.9 +11 %

15

.Table 2

Overall total (manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors taken together) of the stock of inward direct investments

1994 1995 1995/1994

Major investor country (HK$ Bn) (HK$ Bn) (% change)

Total 499.6 532.6 + 7%

United Kingdom 143.4 145.4 + 1 %

China 96.0 107.5 +12%

Japan 86.9 87.6 + 1 %

United States of America 64.5 71.7 +11 %

Others 108.8 120.4 +11 %

End

Provisional statistics of restaurant receipts & purchases ♦ ♦ ♦ * ♦

The value of total receipts for the restaurants sector in the year of 1996, estimated at $55.3 billion, increased by 5% when compared with 1995. The value of total purchases of restaurants, estimated at $20 billion, also increased by 6%.

These are the provisional figures on restaurant receipts and purchases released today (Wednesday) by the Census and Statistics Department.

After discounting the effect of price changes over the period, total restaurant receipts increased by 2% in volume terms. This reflected a notable improvement from the decline of 2% in volume in 1995.

The largest growth in total receipts in 1996 was recorded for non-Chinese restaurants and fast food shops, by 11% and 10% respectively in value, and by 7% and 4% respectively in volume.

16

Concurrently, the total receipts of miscellaneous eating and drinking places also increased by 6% in value and 1% in volume.

Meanwhile, the total receipts of Chinese restaurants and bars increased slightly by 2% and 3% respectively in value but decreased by 1% and 2% respectively in volume.

For the fourth quarter of 1996, total receipts for the restaurants sector estimated at $14.6 billion, increased by 9% when compared with the same quarter in 1995. In volume terms, the receipts increased by 6%. This was the second consecutive quarter since the first quarter of 1994 when positive year-on-year growth in volume terms was registered. Besides, the value of total purchases of restaurants increased by 10% to $5.3 billion.

Compared with a year ago, total receipts of all types of restaurants registered increases in both value and volume terms. Among them, Chinese restaurants and fast food shops had the most rapid growth, both showing an upsurge of 10% in value terms. In volume terms, their total receipts rose by 7% and 4% respectively.

Likewise, the total receipts of non-Chinese restaurants and bars recorded the same increase in value terms, both by 9%. In volume terms, they grew by 5% and 3% respectively.

Besides, the total receipts of miscellaneous eating and drinking places also went up, by 5% in value and 0.1% in volume.

Comparing with the preceding quarter, and bearing in mind that such comparison is affected by seasonal factors, total receipts for the restaurants sector in the fourth quarter of 1996 increased by 4% in both value and volume.

Restaurant receipts in volume terms are derived from receipts in value terms after adjusting for price changes. The relevant components of the Consumer Price Index are used for this deflating purpose.

Table 1 presents the revised figures for the total receipts and total purchases of the restaurants sector for the third quarter of 1996 and the provisional figures for the fourth quarter of 1996.

17

Table, 2 shows the value and volume indices of total receipts by type of restaurants for the fourth quarter of 1995, the third quarter of 1996 and the fourth quarter of 1996, with the quarterly average from October 1994 to September 1995 taken as 100. Also tabulated are comparisons of the results of the fourth quarter of 1996 with those of the third quarter of 1996 and the fourth quarter of 1995; comparisons of total receipts in 1996 with 1995 are also given.

The report on the Quarterly Survey of Restaurant Receipts and Purchases for the fourth quarter of 1996 is now on sale at $4 per copy at the Government Publications Centre, Queensway Government Offices, Low Block, G/F, 66 Queensway; and the Publications Unit of the Census and Statistics Department, 19/F, Wanchai Tower, Wan Chai.

Enquiries about the survey results may be directed to the Wholesale and Retail Trade Statistics Section of the Census and Statistics Department (Tel No: 2802 1258).

18

TABLE 1 : TOTAL RESTAURANT RECEIPTS ANO PURCHASES

3rd Qtr 1996 (Revised figures) 4th Qtr 1996 (Provisional figures)

Total restaurant receipts (HKS million) 14,044.3 14,644.8

Total purchases by restaurants (HK$ million) 5,021.9 5,343.4

TABLE 2 : VALUE AND VOLUME INDICES OF RESTAURANT RECEIPTS FOR 4TH QUARTER 1995, 3RD QUARTER AND 4TH QUARTER 1996

(Quarterly average of October 1994 - September 1995 ■ 100)

Index Number % Change

Type of Restaurants Type of Index 4th Quarter 1995 (Revised figures) 3rd Quarter 1996 (Revised figures) 4th Quarter 1996 (Provisional figures) 4th Qtr 1996 compared with 3rd Qtr 1996 4th Qtr 1996 compared with 4th Qtr 1995 1st-4th Qtr 1996 compared with 1st-4th Qtr 1995

(Point) (Point) (Point) (X) (X) (X)

(A) FfiR.ALL RESTAURANT TYPES Value 103.6 108.6 113.3 ♦4.3 ♦9.4 ♦5.J

Volume 100.4 102.7 106.5 ♦3.8 ♦6.1 ♦1.6

(B) BY TYPE OF SESJAURANTS

Chinese restaurants Value 101.9 104.0 111.6 ♦7.3 ♦9.5 ♦2.4

Volune 99.1 99.5 106.0 ♦6.6 ♦7.0 -0.6

Non-Chinese restaurants Value 105.9 114.2 115.3 ♦0.9 ♦8.9 ♦10.9

Volume 102.7 107.3 108.0 ♦0.6 ♦5.2 ♦6.7

Fast food shops Value 107.1 119.0 117.8 -1.0 ♦10.0 ♦10.4

Volune 103.1 109.2 107.7 •1.4 ♦4.4 ♦4.1

Bars Value 103.1 109.4 111.9 ♦2.3 ♦8.6 ♦3.4

Volume 99.1 101.1 102.6 ♦1.4 ♦3.5 -2.5

Other eating and drinking places Value 101.3 105.7 106.8 ♦1.0 ♦5.3 ♦5.8

Volune 98.6 99.4 98.7 -0.7 ♦0.1 ♦1.2

NOTE : The underlined figures were rounded up to 5.

End

19

General Household Survey quarterly report now on sale *****

The report on the General Household Survey for October - December 1996 in bilingual form is now available for sale.

The report contains statistics on employment, unemployment and underemployment for the fourth quarter of 1996. It also contains detailed analyses of the characteristics of members of the labour force, including their age, sex, educational attainment, activity status, occupation, industry, hours worked per week and monthly employment earnings. Data on reasons for unemployment and duration of unemployment for the unemployed are also presented.

Copies of the report at $53 each can be obtained from the Government Publications Centre, Queensway Government Offices, Low Block, ground floor, 66 Queensway, Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, the Census and Statistics Department will continue to conduct the General Household Survey during the quarter from April to June 1997.

The Survey, conducted on a continuous basis, aims to collect information on the labour force, unemployment and underemployment.

An official letter will be sent to the sampled households prior to each survey month to explain the purpose of the Survey and to seek their voluntary co-operation.

Officers of the department will visit the households concerned to collect the required information. When visiting households, they carry with them a Government Identity Card and a certificate for conducting the Survey. They will make such documents available for inspection by households.

To make it more convenient for both the households and the department, the sampled households could telephone the department to make prior appointment for visit by the interviewers.

End

20

HKMA signs repurchase agreement with RBNZ *****

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) today (Wednesday) jointly announced that a bilateral repurchase (repo) agreement between the two institutions has been signed.

The repo agreement was signed today between Mr Joseph Yam, HKMA's Chief Executive and the Governor of the RBNZ, Dr Don Brash.

The agreement provides for either party to sell to the other US Government securities in exchange for cash, while simultaneously agreeing to repurchase those same securities at a specified later date for an agreed amount. In essence, the arrangement allows each organisation to enhance the liquidity of its foreign reserves portfolio with minimal additional risks.

Bilateral repurchase agreements of this sort have become a common feature of the growing ties between the central banks of the Asian region. This is the first such agreement signed by the RBNZ. The HKMA has already signed nine similar agreements with the central banking institutions in the region including Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan. Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Korea.

Dr Brash commented, "Seven of New Zealand's top ten export markets are in the Asian region. Central banking organisations provide a vital linkage between nations, and it is important that the RBNZ develops relationships with its Asian counterparts that are reflective of, and supportive of those growing trading, business and financial links."

Mr Yam said. "With the signing of the repo agreement with the RBNZ, the HKMA has entered into similar agreements with all the members of the EMEAP (Executives' Meeting of East Asia and Pacific Central Banks). These agreements help strengthen ties amongst central banks in the region and their ability to maintain currency stability."

End

21

Localising bill on transfer of sentenced persons

*****

The Governor in Council has endorsed a Bill which seeks to localise the present legislation on the arrangements for the transfer of sentenced persons between Hong Kong and other countries.

The Transfer of Sentenced Persons Bill, to be gazetted on April 4, aims to replace the existing legislation derived from the United Kingdom, which will cease to apply to Hong Kong from July 1 this year, a Government spokesman said today (Wednesday).

"The Bill, when enacted, will make it possible for arrangements to be made for the transfer of sentenced persons to and from Hong Kong after June 30," he said.

The Bill, broadly following the UK Repatriation of Prisoners Act 1984 currently extended to Hong Kong, comprised the following key features :

* both the receiving and the sending jurisdiction as well as the sentenced person must consent to the transfer;

the conduct in respect of which the sentenced person is imprisoned must be criminal in both jurisdictions; and

any adjustment to the sentence by the sending jurisdiction (by way of pardon, reduction of sentence, and so on) must be given effect to by the receiving jurisdiction.

Under the proposed legislation, there are procedures for the Government responsible for Hong Kong’s foreign affairs to be notified of requests for transfer.

The spokesman explained that although that Government could issue instructions to the Hong Kong authorities, these instructions could only relate to the issue of warrants under the Bill and the circumstances under which such warrants could issue were clearly defined.

"Moreover, the right of the sovereign state to instruct the Hong Kong authorities would only be exercised in cases where matters relating to sovereignty, security or public order were significantly affected," he said.

22

It was agreed through the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group in February 1996 that the Hong Kong Government could proceed to negotiate with five countries on bilateral agreements on the transfer of sentenced persons.

"So far, good progress has been made in the talks with the five countries — Thailand, the United States, the Philippines, Singapore and Austria," the spokesman said.

"We aim to reach as many new agreements as possible before the handover. If necessary, negotiations will continue after the change of sovereignty, and new agreements applicable to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region can still be concluded then," he said.

The spokesman said that the purpose of transferring sentenced persons to their own countries to serve their sentences was to facilitate their rehabilitation, by returning them to an environment free of language and cultural barriers and where their friends and relatives could visit them on a regular basis.

At present, Hong Kong has transfer arrangements with 23 countries, pursuant to the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, which has been extended to the territory by the United Kingdom.

It also has transfer arrangements with Thailand, pursuant to the United Kingdom-Thailand Agreement on the Transfer of Offenders and on Cooperation in the Enforcement of Penal Sentences, which has also been extended to Hong Kong by the United Kingdom.

The Bill is expected to be introduced into the Legislative Council on April 9, 1997.

End

23

Bill on retirement and resignation of judges ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ *

The Administration of Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) (No.2) Bill 1997, which aims mainly to make provisions in local legislation for the retirement and resignation of Supreme Court judges and District Judges, will be gazetted tomorrow (Thursday).

A Government spokesman explained today (Wednesday) that at present, provisions for the retirement and resignation of Supreme Court judges and District Judges are contained in Article XVIA(l), (2) and (3) of the Letters Patent.

The Bill amends the Supreme Court Ordinance and the District Court Ordinance to incorporate the provisions currently in the Letters Patent.

The opportunity is also taken to make a number of technical amendments relating to the administration of oaths of office, the spokesman said.

Section 7 of the Judicial Service Commission Ordinance states that members of the Commission shall on first appointment take an oath of office administered by a judge.

’’The Bill amends Section 7 of the Ordinance to enable a commissioner for oaths, in addition to a judge, to administer the oath," he said.

Besides, Section 17 of the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance provides that all judges and judicial officers specified in the Third Schedule shall take the Oath of Allegiance and the Judicial Oath as soon as possible after their appointment.

"There is, however, no statutory provision for a Justice of Appeal to take such oaths after his appointment.

"As Justices of Appeal should also be required by law to take the relevant oaths following their appointment, the opportunity is taken to amend Part 1 of the Third Schedule to provide that a Justice of Appeal should take the oaths after his appointment," the spokesman said.

End

24

Public welcome to sit in on BA's meeting *****

The Codes of Practice Committee of the Broadcasting Authority will hold its fourth meeting next Wednesday (April 2).

The Committee has been set up to review the codes of practice relating to programme, advertising and technical standards for broadcasting services and to make recommendations to the Broadcasting Authority regarding amendments to the codes.

The meeting, to be chaired by Mr Clement Tao Kwok-lau. will discuss the codes of practice on programme and advertising standards for programme services which are expected to be licensed later this year.

Members of the public are welcome to observe the proceedings of the meeting which will start at 9.30 am in the Conference Room of the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority, 39th Floor. Revenue Tower, 5 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai. Please call 2594 5707 to reserve a seat as seating capacity is limited.

End

Pacific Economic Co-operation Hong Kong Committee meeting *****

The 19th meeting of the Hong Kong Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation (HKCPEC) to be held on April 2 (Wednesday) will be open to members of the public.

The Chairman of the HKCPEC and Group Managing Director of Li & Fung Limited, Mr William Fung, will chair the meeting which will be held at 2 pm in Conference Rooms 5 and 6, G/F, Hong Kong Industrial Technology Centre, 72 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting. However, in view of limited seating capacity in the meeting venue, admission to the meeting is on a first-come-first-served basis.

Those interested in attending the meeting are requested to enrol with HKCPEC Secretariat by April I (Tuesday) at the latest.

25

The meeting's agenda and papers, unless classified as restricted or confidential, will be provided on request.

For reservations and enquiries, please contact the HKCPEC Secretariat at 2398 5693.

The HKCPEC was established in March 1990 to co-ordinate Hong Kong's participation in the Pacific Economic Co-operation Council (PECC).

The Committee, in line with the nature of the PECC, is tripartite, comprising members from academic, business and government sectors. Currently, it has 24 members, eight from each of the three sectors.

The PECC was founded in 1980 to promote regional economic co-operation.

At present, the PECC has a membership of 22 member committees representing the economies of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore. Chinese Taipei. Thailand, the United States. Vietnam, and the Pacific Island Nations.

End

Practise safer sex to prevent AIDS ♦ * * * *

Starting yesterday (March 25) all China-bound passengers crossing the border at Lo Wu will be able to view Government television commercials publicising the importance of safe sex.

The AIDS Awareness TV APIs (Announcements in Public Interest) currently being shown on the nine TV screens at Lo Wu Train Station, feature famous artists in the broadcasting circle and AIDS Awareness Ambassadors. They include Do Do Cheng, radio programme hosts Li Pik-sum, Hung Chiu-fung and Gary Ngan.

"While the artists are seen to be addressing very different target audiences, their appeal is the same - everyone has a fair chance of contracting HIV virus. We must take the necessary precaution to protect ourselves against AIDS," said Mr C K Cheung, Convenor, Task Force on Media and Publicity, Committee on Education and Publicity on AIDS (CEPA1DS) who masterminded the production of the TV APIs.

26

"We hope that the TV APIs can remind travellers that safe sex is the only clue to protect themselves. Always wear condoms during sexual behaviour."

According to the statistics from AIDS Unit, Department of Health, there is an increasing trend that AIDS is contracted through heterosexual intercourse. In many cases AIDS patients contracted HIV virus from commercial sex workers or irregular sex partners and passed on the virus to their spouses.

The TV APIs will be shown to all out-going passengers at the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) Station in Lo Wu during the Easter holidays, a peak season for travel when more than 180,000 members of the public are expected to cross the border every day for fun and relaxation in China.

To supplement the publicity messages of the TV APIs, CEPAIDS had conducted a small scale publicity operation on March 21 where leaflets and giveaways on AIDS were distributed to out-going passengers at the departure hall of Lo Wu KCR Station.

End

Philatelic collection set for migratory birds *****

The Agriculture and Fisheries Department (AFD) and the World Wide Fund For Nature Hong Kong (WWF HK) today (Wednesday) announced the launching of a philatelic collection set for migratory birds, which make yearly stops at the Mai Po Marshes.

The set comprises of one Normal Cover, one set of Postcards and one Souvenir Pack for limited distribution.

The Special First Day Covers and Postcards feature four different migratory birds with information about each bird species, making them both educational and collectable.

The production of the items is to tie with the new special stamps of migratory birds to be issued by the Post Office on April 27. It is also timed for WWF HK’s annual fund raising event, the "Big Bird Race", to be held on April 11 and 12, which helps raise funds for the protection of local bird species and habitats.

27

WWF HK’s Executive Director, Mr David Melville, said: "The Mai Po Marshes is a vital staging ground for hundreds of thousands of migrant birds moving from places as far away as north Siberia and south Australia.

"The Great Knot, Falcated Teal, Yellow-breast Bunting and Black-faced Spoonbill, as migratory birds which are regularly found in Mai Po, were chosen for the design of the collection.

"There are only some 450 individuals of the Black-faced Spoonbill in the whole world, and this is already regarded as critically endangered. A quarter of the world's population is found at Mai Po in winter."

AFD's Assistant Director (Conservation), Mr Frank Lau, paid tribute to WWF HK for producing theses items.

"Like WWF HK, we are concerned about the environment. It is essential to protect the environment and to conserve the wildlife."

Purchasing these philatelic products is a valuable support to WWF HK's conservation and education work, he added.

Normal covers and postcards are available in both advance order and will be on sale from April 14 to 16 at Tsim Sha Tsui Middle Road Post Office and the General Post Office, Central. Souvenir packs are only available in advance order.

Enquiries on the collection set can be directed to Mr Tony Tam of WWF HK Fund Raising Department on 2526 1016 or by fax 2845 2764.

End

RAF fly in Easter bunny to Hong Kong school ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Although rabbits do not normally fly in helicopters, the Easter bunny is taking a special trip tomorrow (Thursday) to help brighten up the last day of term for the children of the Australian International School at Kowloon Tong.

A Wessex helicopter, from the Royal Air Force's 28 (AC) Squadron, based at Kai Tak, will deliver the Easter bunny and her eggs in time for the children's egg hunt at 10 am tomorrow.

28

The school, which is housed in part of the old British military school, St George’s, has 210 pupils from both the Hong Kong Chinese and international communities. The children, aged between four and 14, benefit from an academic, cultural and physical programme presented through aspects of life in Hong Kong and Australia.

28 (AC) Squadron were pleased to help out with the request to fly in to take part in the Easter party and the children are looking forward to the day enormously.

"The children, especially the young ones, are very excited at the arrival of the helicopter with the Easter bunny," said Mrs Chris Neilsen, the school’s Principal, "and the school is very grateful to the RAF for their co-operation."

End

DAILY INFORMATION BULLETIN

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SERVICES GARDEN ROAD, 5th-8th FLOORS, MURRAY BUILDING, HONG KONG. TEL: 2842 8777

Thursday, March 27,1997

Contents Page No.

Government’s response on "act of state" ........................... 1

Voluntary inspection scheme for buildings under 20 years........... 1

Exchange Fund records healthy growth............................... 3

Appointments to the Housing Authority.............................. 6

Reappointment of HA Chairman announced............................. 7

Immigration status of British citizens............................. 9

Monetary statistics for February 1997 ............................ 10

Government to tighten vehicle emission standards.................. 13

Phasing out noisy hammers in four stages.......................... 14

Amendment Rules under Probate & Administration Ordinance.......... 15

Six Queen’s Counsel appointed..................................... 16

Firm guidance document issued for consultation.................... 17

SCOLAR invites applications to the Language Fund.................. 19

Services Support Fund: Invitation for applications................ 21

Four military reprovisioning projects completed................... 22

Marine access in Siu A Chau....................................... 23

Ma On Shan new post office........................................ 24

Hong Kong Monetary Authority Tender Results....................... 25

Firing practice in April.......................................... 26

1

Government’s response on "act of state" ♦ ♦ * ♦ ♦

In answer to media enquiries on remarks attributed to Sir S.Y.Chung that the NPC’s decision to form the provisional legislature is an "act of state" which would fall outside the jurisdiction of the SAR courts, a Government spokesman responded as follows:

"The comments of Sir S.Y. Chung are a cause of great concern. They suggest that all the guarantees written into the Basic Law can be overridden by decisions of the NPC, and that the courts of the HKSAR would be powerless to question the legality of such decisions. If this were true, it would be a devastating blow to the concept of one country, two systems; to the rule of law; and to confidence in Hong Kong's future.

"As a general rule, it will be the courts of the HKSAR which will determine whether an act is or is not an act of state.

"Under the common law, 'acts of state' refer to certain acts of the Executive. A legislative act by a legislative assembly, such as the NPC, would not be an act of state.

"It is deeply disturbing that such a senior and influential figure in the future executive branch of the SAR Government should be making public statements about the work of the judicial branch which could have the effect of undermining the rule of law in the territory after June 30, 1997. This looks like an attempt to lay down the law as to what the courts of the SAR can or cannot deal with after July 1, 1997.

"Comments of this kind risk damaging confidence in Hong Kong at a time when those in responsible positions should be doing their best to provide reassurance about the fundamentals guaranteed in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law."

End

Voluntary inspection scheme for buildings under 20 years ♦ ♦ ♦ * ♦

The Buildings Department will introduce a voluntary inspection scheme for buildings under 20 years old in mid-April to promote their preventive maintenance, the Director of Buildings, Dr Choi Yu-leuk, said today (Thursday).

Speaking at a press conference, Dr Choi said this was part of a proposed Building Safety Inspection Scheme endorsed by the Governor-in-Council for public consultation.

2

"The Government is determined to ensure building safety and to achieve this, it is essential for owners to inspect and maintain their properties regularly," he said.

He stressed that proper maintenance of buildings was not only in the interest of public safety but also enhanced their value.

"We propose an inspection cycle of five, seven and ten years for industrial/godown, domestic/composite and commercial buildings respectively," Dr Choi said.

"Inspection of buildings should focus on structural strength and stability, conditions of the external wall finishes, adequacy of the fire resistant construction and means of escape for ensuring fire safety, and whether there is overloading of building structures," he said.

Under the voluntary inspection scheme, the Buildings Department will send letters to building owners or owners’ corporations encouraging them to appoint Authorised Persons or Registered Structural Engineers to inspect their properties.

A practice note is being prepared for issue to building professionals, setting out clear technical guidelines and standards for inspection, assessment and repairs.

This will form the basis for the inspections to be carried out by building professionals and subsequent scrutiny by the Buildings Department.

"We will consider issuing a letter of satisfaction, which can be registered with the Land Registry upon receipt of an inspection report from the Authorised Person or Registered Structural Engineer demonstrating that a building is in a satisfactory condition," Dr Choi said.

"The letter of satisfaction may provide an incentive for voluntary inspection as it can give a certain degree of safety assurance and may also have a bearing on the decisions of prospective property buyers and tenants, and on financial institutions in considering mortgage applications," he said.

"Where the inspection reports recommend maintenance or repair works, we will examine the recommendations as to whether such works are necessary. The owners will then either be advised on the works, or if the situation so warrants, be served with repair orders," he added.

The proposed Building Safety Inspection Scheme also includes provisions for mandatory inspection of buildings over 20 years of age.

3

According to Dr Choi, there are some 50,000 private buildings in the urban areas, and about half of them are over 20 years old.

Under the proposed mandatory inspection scheme, if and when implemented, owners of the target buildings will be served with notices setting out the time for the inspection reports to reach the Buildings Department.

"At present, we shall focus on consultation with the professional bodies to ensure the technical standards for inspection and repairs are sound and feasible."

"Then we will announce the administrative arrangements of the proposed mandatory inspection scheme for public consultation in July," Dr Choi said.

End

Exchange Fund records healthy growth ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) today (Thursday) announced the audited results of the Exchange Fund at end-1996 with total assets of the Fund up 16% to HKS534.5 bn (1995: HK$460.7 bn) and a 7.9% growth in accumulated earnings. Accumulated earnings in the Exchange Fund increased from HK$ 160.1 bn as at end-1995 to HKS 172.8 bn at the end of last year, an increase of HKS 12.7 bn.

"The HKS 12.7 bn increase in accumulated earnings reflected the result of HKMA’s prudent management of the Fund at times of volatile bond markets and a strong US dollar. The investment in US equities also contributed to the earnings as that market rallied strongly in 1996," said an HKMA spokesman.

"The outlook for 1997 remains uncertain. Market consensus that US interest rates may increase in 1997, coupled with the strength in the US dollar will impact on the Fund's performance in 1997."

"The HKMA will maintain its prudent policy and continue to invest the majority of the Fund's assets in fixed income instruments," the HKMA spokesman added.

The HKMA also announced today the foreign currency assets (i.e. foreign reserves) within the Exchange Fund totalled US$63.8 bn as at end of February 1997. This represented a drop from the US$65.9 bn figure as at end-January due to seasonal factors.

- 4 -

Exchange Fund Balance Sheet as at 31 December 1996

ASSETS

Cash and short-term funds

Fixed deposits

Certificates of deposit

Investment

Fixed assets

Other assets

Total Assets

Total Assets (by allocation):

Foreign currency assets

Hong Kong dollar assets

LIABILITIES

Certificates of Indebtedness

Coins in circulation

Balance of banking system

Exchange Fund Bills and Notes Fiscal Reserves Account

Placements by other institutions Other liabilities

Total Liabilities

NET ASSETS

REPRESENTING ACCUMULATED SURPLUS

1996 HK$ MILLION 1995 HK$ MILLION

126,648 100,343

63,401 76,830

64,065 23,657

270,869 250,702

166 58

9,368 9,144

534,517 460,734

493,802 428,547

40,715 32,187

534,517 460,734

82,480 77,600

4,164 3,597

474 1,762

83,509 53,125

145,898 125,916

39,125 34,302

6,005 4,298

361,655 300,600

172,862 160,134

172,862 160,134

5

Exchange Fund Income and Expenditure Account for the year ended 31 December 1996

1996 1995

HKS MILLION HK$ MILLION

INCOME

Investment income 25,384 46,734

Licence fees 173 176

Others 23 104

TOTAL INCOME 25,580 47,014

EXPENDITURE

Note and coin expenses 165 352

Operating expenses 518 440

Interest 12,169 11,862

TOTAL EXPENDITURE 12,852 12,654

SURPLUS FOR THE YEAR 12,728 34,360

STATEMENT OF ACCUMULATED SURPLUS

Accumulated surplus brought forward 160,134 125,774

Surplus for the year 12,728 34,360

ACCUMULATED SURPLUS 172,862 160,134

CARRIED FORWARD

End

6

Appointments to the Housing Authority *****

The Secretary for Housing, Mr Dominic Wong, announced today (Thursday) that the Governor has reappointed 13 serving members, including the Chairman, and appointed a new member to the Hong Kong Housing Authority for a term of two years with effect from April 1, 1997.

The Governor has also appointed the Director of Lands as an official member of the Authority in place of the Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands.

The reappointed members are:

Hon Dame Rosanna Wong, DBE, JP (Chairman)

Mr Victor So Hing-woh, JP

Mr Hau Shui-pui

Mr Leung Chun-ying

Ms Ho On-nei

Mr Chan Kam-man, JP

Mr Nicholas Brooke, JP

Mr Daniel Lam Chun, JP

Mr Yeung Ka-sing, JP

Mr Anthony Wong Luen-kin

Mr Raymond Chow Wai-kam, JP

Mr Eddy Fong Ching, JP

Dr Joseph Lian Yi-zheng

The newly appointed member is Miss Iris Tam Siu-ying. She is a town planner and has wide experience in the field of housing.

“The Housing Authority is a very important provider of subsidised housing to people in genuine need,” Mr Wong said. "It is desirable that members appointed to the Authority should maintain a good balance of professional expertise and community interests. The appointments made by the Governor will continue to provide this balance."

"The membership now includes professionals, management executives, an economist, social workers, public housing residents, and members of the Executive Council, Legislative Council, Municipal Council and District Boards -— all in their personal capacities," he said.

End

7

Reappointment of HA Chairman announced

*****

The Government announced today (Thursday) the reappointment of Mr Peter Woo Kwong-ching as the Chairman of the Hospital Authority (HA) for two years with effect from April 1, 1997.

Since his first appointment as Chairman in 1995, the work of the Authority has continued to gain wide public support with its core value of ’’quality patient-centred care through teamwork” taking firm root.

"Mr Woo’s reappointment will further consolidate the progress made to date," the Secretary for Health and Welfare, Mrs Katherine Fok, said.

Mr John Chan Cho-chak, who has rendered valuable advice to the Board since his appointment in April 1995, is also reappointed for a period of two years with effect from April 1, 1997.

The Deputy Secretary for Health and Welfare was also reappointed.

To further broaden the representation of the Board, two new members, Dr Raymond Wu Wai-yung and Mr Frank Pong Fai, will be appointed for a period of two years with effect from the same date.

A respected private practitioner, Dr Wu has extensive public service in the rehabilitation field and is now the Chairman of the Rehabilitation Advisory Committee.

Mr Pong has been active in different public services and is currently a member of the Board of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation and the Hong Kong Sports Development Board.

Mrs Katherine Fok expressed regret that Miss Aw Sian would be stepping down from the Board due to her other heavy commitments and thanked Miss Aw for her invaluable contribution to the HA in the past years.

Mrs Fok was however delighted that Miss Aw has kindly agreed to continue to serve as the Chairman of the Hospital Governing Committee of the Hong Kong Eye Hospital.

8

She also thanked all incumbents for their unfailing support and invaluable advice throughout the years and looked forward to new members’ participation in the improvement of the quality of patient care in Hong Kong.

The following is a full membership list of the Hospital Authority:

Chairman

Mr Peter WOO Kwong-ching, JP

Members

Mr John CHAN Cho-chak, CBE, LVO, JP

Miss Eliza CHAN Ching-har

Mrs Pamela CHAN WONG Shui, JP

Miss Iris CHAN Sui-ching

Dr CHOW Chun-bong

Mr Joseph CHOW Ming-kuen, JP

Professor CHOW Shew-ping, JP

The Hon Michael HO Mun-ka

Dr Conrad LAM Kui-shing, JP

Professor Joseph C K LEE

Dr the Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP

Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, OBE, JP

Professor the Hon Felice LIEH MAK, OBE, JP

Mrs Eleanor LING LI Ching-man, OBE, JP

Mrs Alice MAK CHAN Siu-hing

Mr Simon C PENNEY

Mr Frank PONG Fai

Mr Peter WONG Hong-yuen, OBE, JP

Dr Raymond WU Wai-yung, OBE, JP

Secretary for the Treasury or his representative

Deputy Secretary for Health and Welfare

Director of Health

Chief Executive, Hospital Authority

End

9

Immigration status of British citizens *****

The Government announced today (Thursday) that administrative changes to bring the immigration status of British citizens in line with that of other foreign nationals will be implemented from April 1 ahead of the legislative package.

Under the new administrative measures, British citizens may visit Hong Kong visa-free for up to six months. Previously British citizens entering Hong Kong as visitors or for employment, investment, study or otherwise for settlement, were allowed to land and remain in Hong Kong for 12 months without being subject to any other condition of stay.

In addition, if British citizens want to work, study or settle in Hong Kong, they will have to obtain a visa in the same way as other foreign nationals, and the same criteria for approval will apply.

An Immigration Department spokesman said that it was the Government's intention to remove other rights enjoyed exclusively by British citizens in the Immigration Ordinance. This would be a separate exercise, requiring legislation.

"These include the right to land and the special deportation and removal arrangements. The proposed changes will be implemented as soon as the Bill is enacted," he said.

He explained further that by implementing the administrative measures first and deferring the legislative amendments which involved the right to land question until a later stage when the right of abode arrangements become clearer should be a move that would cause less confusion to the British citizens.

As some British citizens may already have made firm arrangements for travel to Hong Kong before the announcement of the new rules, those arriving to work, study or settle in Hong Kong will be granted a period of stay of six months as visitors, during which time they will be able to apply for a change of status.

British citizens who have resided in Hong Kong for seven years and acquired the right to land can continue to enter and remain in Hong Kong without any restrictions as at present.

In order to avoid disruption to British citizens already in Hong Kong, the following transitional arrangement will be implemented :

* British citizens who have not yet completed seven years of residence in Hong Kong but have a valid limit of stay can continue to work, study or live in Hong Kong until their current limit of stay expires. There is no need for them to apply for a visa in the meantime.

10

If they wish to continue to stay in Hong Kong, they will have to apply for extension of stay within four weeks prior to the expiry of their limit of stay. Their applications will then be assessed in accordance with the same immigration policy applicable to other foreign nationals.

Applications for visas to work, study or settle in Hong Kong may be submitted by post directly to the British Citizens Unit, Immigration Department, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong by the applicants themselves, or through their sponsors in Hong Kong.

Revised information pamphlets on these changes can be obtained from the Immigration Department from April 1. Enquiries can also be made by telephone to the Department’s hotline (tel no. 2824 4055) or fax to 2598 8388, or through E-mail at roa@immd.gcn.gov.hk.

End

Monetary statistics for February 1997 *****

According to statistics published today (Thursday, 27 March) by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, both deposits and loans and advances increased during February 1997. Table 1 summarizes figures for February 1997 and comparisons with earlier months.

Deposits

Total deposits rose by 2.8% in February, following an increase of 1.4% in January. Both HK$ and foreign currency deposits grew at a faster pace than in the previous month, rising by 3.6% and 1.7% respectively.

The growth of HKS deposits was entirely attributable to the marked rise in time deposits, which more than offset the fall in demand and savings deposits. Time deposits surged by 6.7% in February, having risen by 2.4% in January. In contrast, demand deposits fell significantly by 7.7% in February, reversing a 11.4% growth in the previous month, and savings deposits declined slightly by 0.1%, following a 1.2% fall in January. The strong growth in time deposits was partly contributed by placements of share subscription monies in the form of time deposits before the refund dates, while the decline of demand deposits reflected a reversal of previous month's seasonal rise in transaction demand for money after the Chinese New Year holidays.

11

Both USS and non-USS deposits increased in February. USS deposits grew slightly by 0.3% during the month, after dropping by 2.7% in December 1996 and 0.3% in January 1997, while non-USS foreign currency deposits rose further by 3.2%, following increases of 0.5% and 0.9% in December 1996 and January 1997 respectively.

Loans and Advances

Total loans and advances continued to expand. They grew by 2.6% in February, following a 0.1% rise in January. Domestic credit expanded by 4.7%, with the 0.9% contraction in loans for trade financing more than offset by a 5.3% increase in other loans for use in Hong Kong. The latter was largely attributable to the rapid rise of loans for share subscriptions and property-related lending. The result of the February 1997 Residential Mortgage Survey of 33 authorized institutions revealed that outstanding residential mortgage loans grew by 2.7% during the month. Offshore loans rebounded slightly by 0.7% in February, from a 3.1% decline in January.

HK$ and foreign currency loans rose by 5.7% and 0.7% respectively during the month. As HK$ loans expanded at a faster pace than HK$ deposits, the HK$ loan-to-deposit ratio rose further to 108.2% at end-February, from 106.1% at end-January.

Money Supply

HK$M1 fell by 5.9% in February, with currency held by the public falling by 3% and HK$ demand deposits dropping by 7.7%, as the transaction demand for money eased to a more normal level after the Chinese New Year holidays. In line with the rapid domestic credit expansion, HKSM2 and HKSM3 increased by 3.2% and 3.1% respectively in February, following rises of 2.7% and 2.6% in the previous month. In the twelve months to February 1997, HKSM1 rose by 13.6%, HK$M2 increased by 22.6% and HK$M3 grew by 22.3%.

- 32 -

TABLE 1 : MONETARY STATISTICS - Feb 1997

Eeh.1222 (HKS can) Earlier months (% change to Feb 1997)

Noy 199.6

Money Supply

Ml -HKS 208,075 221,087 ( -5.9) 187,289 ( 11.1 ) 183,223 ( 13.6 )

Foreign currency 19,753 18,150 ( 8.8 ) 19,945 ( -1.0) 20,240 ( •2.4 )

Total 227,828 239,237 ( -4.8) 207,235 ( 9.9 ) 203,463 ( 12.0 )

M2-HK$@ 1,593,462 1,543,467 ( 3.2) 1,514,450 ( 5.2) 1,299,565 ( 22.6 )

Foreign currency* 1,021,894 1,004,813 ( 1.7) 1,015,240 ( 0.7) 1,014,615 ( 0.7 )

Total 2,615,356 2,548,280 ( 2.6) 2,529,690 ( 3-4) 2,314,180 ( 13.0 )

M3 -HKS@ 1,609,047 1,560,022 ( 3-1) 1,531,238 ( 5.1 ) 1315,340 ( 223 )

Foreign currency* 1,087,734 1,069,364 ( L7) 1,079,444 ( 0.8 ) 1,074.939 ( 1.2)

Total 2,696,781 2,629,386 ( 2.6) 2,610,683 ( 33) . 2,390,279 ( 12.8 )

Notes and coins in circulation 93,427 99,501 ( -6.1) 84,176 ( 11.0 ) 90,248 ( 3.5 )

of which held by public 82,836 85,430 ( -3.0) 74,816 ( 10.7 ) 80,279 ( 3.2)

Total Lyalls-

Total Demand deposits 144,992 153,807 ( -5.7) 132,419 ( 9.5) 123,184 ( 17.7 )

Total Savings deposits 517,482 516,864 ( 0.1) 505,110 ( 2-4) 456,340 ( 13.4)

Total Time deposits 1,874,782 1,796,665 ( 4.3) 1,822,139 ( 2.9) 1,663,279 ( 1Z7 )

With licensed banks 1,815,196 1,736,829 ( 4.5) 1,763,464 ( 2.9 ) 1,609,445 ( 12.8 )

With restricted licence banks 44,161 44,604 ( -1.0) 42,888 ( 3-0) 36,647 ( 20.5 )

With deposit-taking companies 15,425 15,232 ( 1.3) 15,787 ( -2.3) 17,187 ( -10.3 )

HKS deposits^ 1,482,914 1,431,081 ( 3.6) 1.414,677 ( 4.8) 1,197,707 ( 23.8 )

Demand deposits 125,240 135,656 ( •7.7) 112,473 ( 11.4) 102,944 ( 21.7 )

Savings deposits 361,485 361,714 ( -0.1) 357,293 ( 1.2) 316,882 ( 14.1 )

Time deposits® 996,189 933,711 ( 6.7) 944,911 ( 5-4) 777,881 ( 28.1 )

USS deposits* 516,780 515,408 ( 0-3) 531,373 ( -2.7) 524,308 ( -1.4)

Other foreign currency deposits* 537,563 520,847 ( 3.2) 513,617 ( 4.7) 520,789 ( 3.2)

Foreign currency deposits* 1,054,343 1,036,254 ( 1.7) 1,044,990 ( 0.9) 1,045,096 ( 0.9 )

All deposits 2,537,257 2,467,336 ( 2.8 ) 2,459,667 ( 3-2) 2,242,803 ( 13.1 )

Foreign currency swap deposits 36,786 37,899 ( -2.9) 39,043 ( -5.8) 46,423 ( -20.8 )

Total Loans and advance?

Loans for use in H.K. 1,978,177 1,889,694 ( 4.7) 1,829,423 ( 8.1 ) 1,614,395 ( 22.5 )

To finance HX’t visible trade 162,598 164,509 ( -1.2) 164,088 ( -0.9 ) 158,037 ( 2.9 )

To finance merchandising trade not touching H.K. 21,409 21,120 ( 14) 19,017 ( 12.6 ) 19,508 ( 9.7)

Other loans for use in H.K. 1,794,170 1,704,065 ( 5-3) 1,646318 ( 9.0 ) 1,436,850 ( 24.9 )

Loans for use outside HJC# 2,042,780 2,027,949 ( 0.7 ) 2,090,142 ( -2.3) 2,144,967 ( -48)

Other loans for use outside H.K. 2,000,601 1,987,673 ( 0.7) 2,049,288 (