Public Policy Research

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In the response by the public officers a moment ago, some questions caused me worries as I listened along. An official said he was worried that if public utilities reduced their fees, the quality of service would be affected. But we are well aware of the Enhanced Productivity Programme proposed by the Government which is confident that there will be no deterioration in the level of service. Why is the Government not confident in the public utilities it fully owns? As we pointed out before the officials responded, they would use the premise of commercial principles to refute our points.
For example, the HKO keeps its weather monitoring and warning services under regular review. Indeed, the SAF system, newly introduced this year, was the result of the HKO’s review of the Rainstorm Warning System last year. Arrangements for the SAF will be brought under the HKO’s annual review to be conducted at the end of the year. provides temporary shelters and emergency relief services in co-operation with the HAD. provide evacuation and rescue services for flood victims, and emergency treatment to casualties before their conveyance to hospitals. The fact finding stage of the consultancy study has been completed and the exercise will be completed by the end of this year.
In fact, my motion today actively encourages the public utilities to reduce their fees and urge them not to lay off or reduce the salaries of their employees because of the fee reduction. Such urges can find precedents among officials but regrettably it does not apply to the entire Administration. We do not think there is any need to achieve a moratorium on or reduction of charges through layoffs or cuts in staff salaries, or through lowering the service quality or safety standards in particular. However, we are glad that these organizations are making positive responses and launching corresponding measures.
In fact, there were instances where time deposit rates were higher than the BLR. This has particularly been the case for the larger deposits where banks have been prepared to offer preferential rates well in excess of Hong Kong Dollar Interbank Offered Rates in order to attract deposits. Although the interest rate environment has recently become more stable, the time deposit rates are still higher than precrisis levels. Accordingly, it seems clear that decisions towards further deregulation should not be taken in isolation. Instead, wealth generator review they should be reviewed in the broader context of the strategic direction of the Hong Kong banking sector, the state of the economy as a whole, and other possible policy changes. Consequently, the HKMA has commissioned a consultancy study on the future direction of the banking sector. After considering the consultant’s findings and recommendations, the HKMA will publish a report in due course. The provision of escort service on school buses carrying primary or kindergarten pupils has been made mandatory since 1 February 1997.

  • Before September 1997, KMB was still protected under the Profit Control Scheme and its permitted rate of return was 16% of the average net fixed assets value.
  • It will indeed be glad tidings to the hotel and catering industries if they can cut costs in these areas.
  • Madam President, as regards franchised bus services, everyone knows that the Kowloon Motor Bus has monopolized the bus services in Kowloon and the New Territories.
  • Besides, the Long Win Bus started operating bus routes in North Lantau in 1997.
  • Take the hotel industry as an example, the electricity tariffs they pay each day of the year are very high.
  • Their total passenger volume accounts for 27% of that of all means of transport in Hong Kong and buses have the largest share of the public transport market.

The ED has been fostering environmental education at all levels in schools. Seminars and experience-sharing sessions on environmental protection issues are jointly organized by the ED, other government departments and green groups on a regular basis for primary and secondary schools. The ASFOC operates with full autonomy under mandate from the International Olympic Committee . It works with the SDB and the sports community to promote and develop sport in Hong Kong. While the ASFOC is fully accountable to the SDB for the money it receives from the Board, it also has its own resources deriving from its membership of the IOC and also from private donations. The way in which it manages these resources is outside the purview of the Board. Applications for Closed Road Permits will not be processed by the Immigration Department unless accompanied by approval documents issued by the Guangdong authorities. When the number of applications supported by approval documents received in Hong Kong exceeds the monthly agreed quota of 55, the excess cases will be put on the waiting list. Hence, if the issue of approval documents does not exceed the agreed quota, the waiting time will be shortened. We will continue to discuss with the Guangdong authorities on ways to smoothen the administration of the Closed Road Permit issuing process.
The 12-minute response time performance indicator compares favourably with overseas standards. I also note that many metropolitan cities have not set any performance targets for their EAS. In additional to ambulance staff, we have also acquired 27 ambulances and 11 AAMCs as recommended in the consultancy report. Plans for new ambulance depots in North Point, Sheung Wan, Kwai Chung and Kowloon Tong are underway to further improve the EAS coverage. In fact, the FSD was able to respond to 92.2% of emergency calls within a 12-minute response time in the third quarter of this year. We expect that the EAS will achieve its pledged performance target of 92.5% when another batch of trained ambulancemen render service in the second quarter of 1999.

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In case of delay of the arriving aircraft, parking stands might have to be held vacant for a slightly longer period of time. These situations may give rise to an impression of idle airbridges while remote stands are being used. The second point I want to raise is that although our performance pledge has not been further improved for the time being, our actual performance shows that from July, August and September onwards, we have been able to respond to over 92.5% of emergency cases within 12 minutes. In the review to be carried out next year, we will look at our actual performance. The FSD has also planned to lodge an application to improve its computer system in the hope that the activation time can be shortened from two minutes to one minute so that the response time can be reduced to less than 12 minutes. As for the 10-minute travelling time, our performance pledge has in fact compared favourably with many other major cities in the world. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate the FSD’s determination to achieve the new performance indicator in the second quarter of 1999, when we will also review the feasibility to further reduce the 12-minute target response time. Madam President, although the performance indicator has been set at responding to 92.5% of emergency calls within a 12-minute response time, our performance records reveal that the EAS response time for over 50% of emergency calls is actually less than eight minutes. The FSD has also issued internal guidelines to increase the utilization of AAMCs for cases where the response time would likely exceed 12 minutes. All these arrangements are made to fulfil the FSD’s performance pledge of ensuring that patients are provided with prompt emergency service and conveyed to hospitals as quickly as possible for necessary medical treatment.
We understand that as a longer-term objective, the HA is committed to providing adequate mechanical aids to reduce the risks of manual handling. On the training side, some 150 HA staff have been trained up so far under a special programme. They have in turn trained about front-line supervisors in the assessment of risks associated with manual handling. These supervisors are responsible for training nurses, ward assistants and other staff on proper manual handling techniques and the correct use of these mechanical aids in various hospitals.
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As regards the oil companies, oil prices are not regulated by the Government but the Economic Services Bureau has urged the oil companies to consider lowering the prices of their products in the light of the downward adjustment of oil prices worldwide. We note, recently, that oil companies are launching new campaigns to benefit their customers by cash coupons or discounts so that the prices of petroleum products are indirectly reduced. Furthermore, the Panel on Economic Services have decided to discuss at the meeting to be held on 23 this month the retail prices of major fuels sold by the relevant oil companies. On that day, representatives of the oil companies will be present to answer any questions raised by Members. As far as the supply of coal gas is concerned, the Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited announced in the middle of last month it would not raise gas tariff and monthly maintenance charge on 1 January 1999 to help relieve the financial burden on the people.

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Moreover, because of the lack of the “three through” between Taiwan and China, many had to come to Hong Kong first before they could go into the Mainland. Why has the retail industry suffered the worst setback in this financial turmoil or recession? Now my partner and I, who are involved with the retail and catering industries, are dealing with layoff cases every day — it is not that the two of us have been laid-off. It is because these two industries that were blooming before have now declined greatly. Miss Christine LOH has mentioned the Study on the Kowloon Southeast Reclamation conducted by the Planning Department. The study involves an extensive reclamation which will create about 580 hectares of land on which people will be housed and a Central Metropolitan Park built. Many opine that the Government does not need to reclaim such a vast piece of the sea and it should just reclaim enough land for the extension of the transport network linking the north, south, east and west parts of Kowloon. Besides environmental reasons, some also suggest that it is a very good spot for the development of Kai Tak Airport and the Harbour for the use by yachting clubs and for windsurfing.
The information she said was not enough can be obtained easily from the HKTA. I am afraid if we let this chance slip away easily, just like the way Britain was indecisive and so Paris snatched away the chance of building the Disneyland in Europe, then we will only be sorry for letting this golden opportunity slip through our hands. Last year I went to Taiwan and I heard about their development of leisure fishing. Fries can be put into these waters and only licensed boats are allowed to enter into these areas to catch fish and squids. As a matter of fact, squid catching is a favourite activity for Hong Kong people in last couple of years, and some tourists even come here especially for this purpose. The sightseeing fishing industry can be a new way out for the shrinking coastal fishing activities.
Most of the front-line staff are expected to have received such training by early next year. This new multi-disciplinary approach is intended to encourage self-regulation at the enterprise level and is in keeping with the Government’s new policy direction in managing workplace safety and health. The emphasis is on assisting the hospitals to put in place a safety management system. However, once the system is fully operational, surprise checks and enforcement on compliance with the relevant regulation will follow.
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If the number is not known, the person has to request the Department to conduct a search for the number before any further search can be done. We have recently reviewed the operation of the business registration system to identify areas which can be simplified and modernized. We intend to install a new computer system and revamp the office procedures in order to rationalize the operation of the business registration system and to keep pace with the development of today’s business environment. As a result, we expect that the time taken for effecting a new business registration will be shortened from six to four days. The Bill aims at adapting 12 Ordinances and their subsidiary legislation which are related to government revenue in order to make them consistent with the Basic Law and the status of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Bills read the First time and ordered to be set down for Second Reading pursuant to Rule 53 of the Rules of Procedure. 2 The various interest rates quoted in this response represent their respective monthly average figures between July 1997 and September 1998. The average interest rates for one-month time deposits were compiled based on the board rates for deposits less than HK$100,000 offered by 10 leading banks.

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But I must add that our unique heritage and historical relics are not the only things which appeal to foreigners; we can actually offer many other scenic spots known for their blending of Occidental and Oriental tastes. That is why I wish to propose that we should focus on those tourist spots unique to Hong Kong and promote them vigorously, one example being the “Poor People’s Night Clubs” in the past. Third, we should build more large-scale conventions and exhibitions venues. Statistics show that more than 25% of our visitors are here either on business or for participation in conferences. So, the construction of new and well-equipped conventions and exhibitions venues will certainly attract more visitors to Hong Kong for economic and commercial activities. And, I must say in this connection that the proposal made by the Chief Executive in his second policy address for the construction of a new, state-of-the-art performance venue on the West Kowloon Reclamation will certainly attract more visitors to Hong Kong.
I think they are only trying to threaten people in saying something like this. With effect from 1 January next year, residential telephone line tariffs in Hong Kong will probably rise from the current monthly tariff of $68 to $90. Within the six months up to September 1998, HKT has registered a after-tax profit of $6.1 billion, representing an 1.4% wealth generator review growth over the same period last year. Given that HKT has such a huge profit, I strongly appeal to it not to raise tariffs in order to help reduce the burden on the public. According to the English versions, the authorities may issue certificates to stipulate that there is no record of marriage between certain persons named in the certificates.
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Like a timely exhortation, this incident reminds us of the fact that many a thing that should be done is not done not because it is impossible rather because it has been chosen not to be done. In fact, it has become a matter of course for the company to make a profit every year and to raise its fares if the profit is not enough. As it stands, I believe no company will be able to find incentive for self-betterment. I believe the only way to continue to survive is to trim the entire economy so that we can cope with keen competition in the region and the poor economic climate. Because of the weakened purchasing power of the people, we consider a freeze on fares alone inadequate. Various transport operators must reduce their fares in order to cope with the affordability of the people.
But the psychological barrier of Hong Kong being an expensive place could not be overcome so easily. We believe that it would take quite some time before tourist confidence can be restored in Hong Kong. However, when the number of tourists rises, the charges for hotel rooms and air tickets will also rise. By that time there will be another adverse impact on the desire of tourists to visit Hong Kong. Last week, the Secretary for Economic Services, Mr Stephen IP, made an analogy of courting a girl to the wealth generator review Disneyland negotiations. I think if we can be heart-to-heart with Disney and become partners for life, this will not only be an advantage to Hong Kong, but can also bring in substantial profits to Disney. So, I support the amendment made by Mr Howard YOUNG and I ask for Members’ support as well. Just now Miss Christine LOH said that she did not have enough information at hand and she thought that we should take our time. I feel very surprised because the information she got was in fact inaccurate.
For example, Hong Kong used to be a fishing port and it is not surprising to see a fishing junk being used as a symbol of Hong Kong by the HKTA. If we can make some tourist spots related to the fishing industry, there would certainly be some attractions. The Planning Department has said earlier on that it would conduct a study on the development of Tai O, including a study on the potentials of turning it into a tourist spot. Personally I hope that the authorities concerned will complete this study expeditiously, so that this Venice of Hong Kong can come up with a fresh look. I also want to talk about the appointment of a Commissioner for Tourism. I agree with the two Honourable Members who spoke before me that as long as the appointee has the enterprise required, he or she does not necessarily need to be a civil servant on appointment. But these two Honourable Members, I am sure, have stopped short of saying that not one single existing civil servant is considered fit for the post. These two Honourable Members of course know the directorate ranks, and they should also know that only the officers of such a rank can perform the duties of this post satisfactorily.
For example, the Adult Education Section of the Education Department provides adult education at primary and secondary levels and English courses for interested persons aged 15 or above. It also subvents non-government organizations in providing adult education courses, including literacy class. Besides, adult education programmes are provided by other private institutions. In concert with other relevant departments and organizations, the ED will continue to step up publicity and promote environmental education in schools.

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Other than the Psychological Services Section of the ED, major school sponsoring bodies are also funded by the Government to employ their own educational psychologists. At present, the sponsoring bodies of 102 aided secondary schools and 26 special schools, practical schools and skills opportunity schools have employed educational psychologists to provide counselling services. In the past three years, the number of students served in the form of casework support was 5 070. On the preventive side, the “Early Identification Programme” run by the Psychological Services Section also provided primary school pupils with detailed assessment service on their learning abilities as well as recommendations on the suitable educational and guidance services. In addition, for operational reasons, scheduling of parking stands has to allow a time gap between the departure of an aircraft and the arrival of another.