Council Meeting ( Agenda ) 19 June 2002

A 01/02-30

Legislative Council

Agenda
Wednesday 19 June 2002 at 2:30pm

I. Tabling of Papers

Subsidiary Legislation / Instruments L.N. No.
1.Designation of Public Funeral Hall (Repeal) Order 2002101/2002
2.Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal (Amendment) Ordinance 2002 (11 of 2002) (Commencement) Notice 2002102/2002


Other Papers

1. No.85-Report of changes to the approved Estimates of Expenditure approved during the fourth quarter of 2001-02 (Public Finance Ordinance : Section 8)
(to be presented by Secretary for the Treasury)

2. No.86-Audited Statement of Accounts of the Director of Social Welfare Incorporated together with the Director of Audit's Report for the year ended 31 March 2001
(to be presented by Secretary for Health and Welfare)


II. Questions

1. Hon MA Fung-kwok to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the business activities of the Hong Kong Productivity Council ("HKPC"), will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the details of the projects undertaken solely by HKPC or jointly with other organizations with subsidies from funds established with public money, including the description, nature and subsidized amount of each project, as well as the role of HKPC in the projects;

    (b)the descriptions and beneficial results of other projects undertaken solely by HKPC or jointly with other organizations, together with a breakdown by the nature of such projects; whether the authorities have assessed if HKPC's embarking on such projects has constituted a scramble for profits with the private sector and if this is in line with the objectives for establishing HKPC; if an assessment has been made, of the conclusions drawn; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)the number of complaints received about the business activities of HKPC, and list the subject matters of these complaints, how they were handled and the outcome of the complaints,in the past three years?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Commerce and Industry

2. Hon WONG Sing-chi to ask:
(Translation)

It is learnt that, due to a substantial drop in the amount of donations received in recent years, the Community Chest of Hong Kong ("the Chest") plans to cut back considerably in the next two financial years the funding for its member agencies which provide social welfare services, with the elderly services being most affected. Regarding the allocation of resources for social welfare services (in particular, services for the elderly), will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether it has assessed the impacts of the drastic reduction of funding by the Chest on the overall quality and level of social welfare services, and of the follow-up actions the Social Welfare Department ("SWD") has taken to alleviate the impacts;

    (b)whether SWD will allocate additional resources to the affected agencies so as to offset the reduction of funding by the Chest; if so, of the total amount of additional funding and the detailed arrangements; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)of the details of the current review of the resource allocation for services for the elderly?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Health and Welfare

3. Hon Fred LI to ask:
(Translation)

On 5 June, the Chief Secretary announced the arrangement for Home Ownership Scheme ("HOS") units upon the expiry of the 9-month moratorium on their sale. Although there are 7 000 completed HOS units which are left vacant and 30 000 being constructed, the number of HOS units which will be put up for sale this year is only 4 900, and the number of HOS units to be put up for sale after 2005-06 will not exceed 2 000 a year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
    (a)the numbers of completed HOS units which are still vacant and those being constructed, broken down by their end-use;

    (b)the numbers of HOS units planned for sale, broken down by the number of years they will have been left vacant before being sold; and

    (c)the maintenance cost and other expenses incurred, due to the delay in selling HOS units planned for sale and the estimated opportunity cost of these units during the periods in which they are left vacant?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Housing

4. Hon Emily LAU to ask:


In August 2001, the United Nations ("UN") Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reiterated its concern about the continued absence in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ("SAR") of legal provisions protecting persons from acts of racial discrimination by private persons, groups or organizations, and requested this be addressed in the next report, due on 28 January 2003. Moreover, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights requested in May 2001 that the SAR Government submit information by 30 June 2003 on the SAR's progress in implementing the Committee's recommendation of enacting anti-racial discrimination laws. In this connection, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:
    (a)of the scheduled dates of the above submissions by the SAR Government;

    (b)of the respective starting dates of the public consultation exercises on the submissions, and whether such consultations will involve ethnic minorities and non-governmental organizations; and

    (c)when a decision on whether or not to introduce legislation to prohibit acts of racial discrimination in the private sector will be made?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Home Affairs

5. Hon Abraham SHEK to ask:


Every night thousands of residents or tourists go on short cruise trips for gambling activities on the high seas. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)whether the Marine Department requires the vessels to provide information on their departure ports, destinations and reasons for berthing in Hong Kong; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (b)of the respective amounts of resources the Customs and Excise Department and the Immigration Department deployed for immigration clearance for passengers of such vessels in each of the past three years; and

    (c)how the existing legislation regulates gambling establishments on board vessels, and whether such vessels can be restricted or barred from taking passengers from the local ports for gambling on the high seas?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Home Affairs

6. Hon LAU Kong-wah to ask:
(Translation)

At the end of last month, the Rental Housing Committee of the Housing Authority ("HA") fixed the per-square-metre rents for public rental housing ("PRH") units to be completed in the latter half of this year at the same level as the current highest per-square-metre PRH rents in the corresponding districts and, for the rental units which were formerly built for two Home Ownership Scheme ("HOS") projects, the per-square-metre rents are set at 10% higher. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)if HA has estimated the median rent-to-income ratio in respect of the prospective tenants of these HOS units; if so, of the ratio;

    (b)how HA has worked out that the rents of these HOS units should be 10% higher than those of newly-completed PRH units in the same district; and

    (c)if HA will consider setting the rents of newly-completed PRH units at a lower level, so as to alleviate the burden on the tenants; if not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Housing

*7. Hon Albert CHAN to ask:
(Translation)

It has been reported that River Trade Terminal Company Limited, which operates the Tuen Mun River Trade Terminal, is suspected of having breached the land grant conditions by conducting at the terminal a sideline business of cargo handling services for ocean-going vessels, and the Hong Kong Port and Maritime Board ("PMB") has issued a final notice ordering the company to terminate such services. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the deadline PMB has set for the company to terminate such business and details of the notice;

    (b)whether the company has now terminated such business;

    (c)whether the Government will take legal actions against the company for breaching the land grant conditions; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

    (d)whether the land grant conditions have set out penalty terms for breach of the provisions therein; if so, of the details of such penalty terms; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (e)whether the Government has assessed the impact of such business conducted by the company on the ocean cargo handling industry as a whole, and if such conduct is unfair to other lawful business operators?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Economic Services

*8. Hon Emily LAU to ask:
(Translation)

Will the Executive Authorities inform this Council whether they will regard broadband Internet network as an essential infrastructure and play a proactive role in constructing an advanced broadband network of high capacity and speed, with a view to enhancing the competitiveness of Hong Kong; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that? Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Information Technology and Broadcasting

*9. Hon LAU Kong-wah to ask:
(Translation)

Will the Government inform this Council of the factors taken into account in deciding on the choice of colours for noise barriers erected on roads and flyovers, and whether it has considered using transparent noise barriers as far as possible in order to minimize their impact on the landscape and on drivers? Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Transport

*10. Hon Albert CHAN to ask:
(Translation)

Nowadays, banks often hire debt-collection agencies to collect outstanding repayments for home mortgage loans, credit card loans and other debts. I have received quite a number of complaints from members of the public, alleging that they have been seriously distressed by the tactics employed by these debt-collection agencies and they have even contemplated suicide out of frustration. While it is legal for banks to hire debt-collection agencies or take legal actions to recover debts, such actions have put debtors under immense psychological pressure. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the number of cases reported to the Police about debt-collection agencies' harassment over the past two years;

    (b)whether it has specific measures to monitor debt-collection agencies and prohibit them from recovering debts by harassment, so as to reduce the nuisances caused to the debtors; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

    (c)whether it has measures to encourage banks to discuss with their debtors as far as possible solutions to paying outstanding loans, such as re-structuring the debts or extending the repayment periods, so as to avoid resorting to legal actions or hiring debt-collection agencies?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Security

*11. Hon NG Leung-sing to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the Hospital Authority's ("HA") procurement of pharmaceutical products, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:
    (a)the expenses on procuring drugs manufactured in the Mainland and the percentage it represents in HA's total drug expenditure in each of the past three years; and the respective average unit prices of these Mainland-manufactured drugs and those of comparable ones manufactured in foreign countries; and

    (b)if HA has formulated a policy and laid down specific procurement guidelines for procuring, as far as possible, drugs from countries and regions where the drugs are less expensive, provided that the required efficacy and safety of the drugs are ensured and the principles stipulated in the World Trade Organization Agreement on Government Procurement are upheld; if so, of the details of the policy and guidelines; if not, the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Health and Welfare

*12. Hon Fred LI to ask:
(Translation)

It has been almost 20 years since the Government proposed to redevelop Kwun Tong Town Centre, but so far the project has not yet been implemented. The district is in a dilapidated state and residents there are yearning for early implementation of the redevelopment project. The Urban Renewal Authority ("URA"), which is responsible for the redevelopment project, is now carrying out the relevant land use planning. It is learnt that the redevelopment project may be delayed as the Government has requested URA to provide schools, civic centres and public transport interchanges etc on the land concerned. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the type of buildings and ancillary facilities (such as transport and sitting-out facilities) to be provided on the land of the redevelopment project;

    (b)whether it has reviewed the appropriateness of providing schools in the area of the town centre; if it has, of the conclusion;

    (c)whether the above planning work has been delayed by the need to identify suitable locations for building schools or by other factors; if so, of the reasons; and

    (d)whether it has specific measures for expediting the above planning work; if not, of the reasons for that?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Planning and Lands

*13. Hon WONG Sing-chi to ask:
(Translation)

The authorities secured funding approval in February this year for the establishment of a $300 million Community Investment and Inclusion Fund ("CIIF"), and the membership list of the Committee on the CIIF was announced on 6 April. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether the Committee has:
    (a)worked out the details of the funding arrangements and the commencement date for receiving funding applications; if so, of the details;

    (b)laid down specific assessment criteria to determine if the project relating to a funding application is "focussing on assisting vulnerable groups" or "exhibiting prospects for longer-term sustainability"; if so, of the details of these criteria; and

    (c)formulated specific plans and targets to campaign for donations from the public, and whether it has assessed the effectiveness of such fund-raising campaigns in the current economic conditions?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Health and Welfare

*14. Hon Henry WU to ask:
(Translation)

In February this year, the Administration unveiled its plan to construct a long-term storage facility at Siu A Chau ("SAC") for low-level radioactive waste ("LLRW") at an estimated budget of HK$212 million. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
    (a)of the component parts of the estimated budget;

    (b)of the scenarios it had considered before arriving at the conclusion that the SAC option, as compared to utilizing storage facilities in the Mainland, will allow the Government more flexibility and enable it to respond more readily in managing future LLRW; and

    (c)of the current progress of the plan?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for the Environment and Food

*15. Dr Hon YEUNG Sum to ask:
(Translation)

Regarding the "commercial premises", i.e. shopping arcades, car parks, factory buildings and office buildings, under the Housing Authority ("HA"), will the Government inform this Council if it knows:
    (a)the total assets value of each category of commercial premises under HA, and the Government's respective equities in them, including those acquired through the provision of loans and injection of funds to HA; and

    (b)the current number of employees who are responsible for the management, letting, development and other matters of such commercial premises and, among them, the percentage of non-government employees, together with a breakdown of such employees by the type of jobs they undertake?
Public Officer to reply: Secretary for Housing

*For written reply.

III. Bills

First Reading
Supplementary Appropriation (2001-2002) Bill 2002

Second Reading (Debate to be adjourned)
Supplementary Appropriation (2001-2002) Bill 2002 : Secretary for the Treasury

IV. Motions

Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
Secretary for Constitutional Affairs to move the motion
    (Contents of the motion are contained in the papers issued on 3 June 2002 under LC Paper No. CB(3) 678/01-02 and
    4 June 2002 under LC Paper No. CB(3) 682/01-02)
Amendments to Secretary for Constitutional Affairs' motion

(i)Hon Albert HO
(Contents of the amendment are contained in the paper issued on 14 June 2002 under LC Paper No. CB(3) 718/01-02)

(ii)Hon Frederick FUNG
(Contents of the amendment are contained in the paper issued on 14 June 2002 under LC Paper No. CB(3) 718/01-02)

(iii)Hon Andrew CHENG
(Contents of the amendment are contained in the paper issued on 14 June 2002 under LC Paper No. CB(3) 718/01-02)

(iv)Hon Fred LI
(Contents of the amendment are contained in the paper issued on 14 June 2002 under LC Paper No. CB(3) 718/01-02)

(v)Hon LAW Chi-kwong
(Contents of the amendment are contained in the paper issued on 14 June 2002 under LC Paper No. CB(3) 718/01-02)

(vi)Hon Cyd HO
(Contents of the amendment are contained in the paper issued on 14 June 2002 under LC Paper No. CB(3) 718/01-02)

(vii)Hon SIN Chung-kai
(Contents of the amendment are contained in the paper issued on 14 June 2002 under LC Paper No. CB(3) 718/01-02)


V. Members' Motions
  1. Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
    Dr Hon YEUNG Sum to move the motion in Appendix 1.

    Amendment to Dr Hon YEUNG Sum's motion
    Hon Albert HO

  2. (Contents of the amendment are contained in the paper issued on 12 June 2002 under LC Paper No. CB(3) 711/01-02) Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Constitutional Affairs

  3. Proposed resolution under the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong to move the motion in Appendix 2.

    Amendment to Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong's motion
    Hon Albert HO

  4. (Contents of the amendment are contained in the paper issued on 12 June 2002 under LC Paper No. CB(3) 709/01-02)

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Constitutional Affairs

  5. Determining the fares of new railways

  6. Hon Andrew CHENG: (Translation)

    That, as the construction costs of both the MTR Tseung Kwan O Extension and the West Rail, which will soon be commissioned, have decreased significantly from the original estimates of $30.5 billion and $64 billion to $18 billion and $46.4 billion respectively, this Council urges the Government to discuss with the two railway corporations to ensure that the decreased construction costs of these new railways are factored in the fares of the rail lines, so as to alleviate the burden of transport expenses on the public.

    Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Transport

  7. Improving the imbalance in the utilization ratio between public and private medical services
    Hon Michael MAK:
  8. (Translation)

    That, as currently the serious imbalance in the utilization ratio between public and private medical services has drastically increased the workload for and pressure on the staff providing public medical services, this Council urges the Government to actively face up to the problem and expeditiously adopt the following improvement measures to prevent a decline in the quality of public medical services, including:

    (a)deploying resources appropriately and strengthening professional training, so as to assist the staff providing public medical services in coping with the service demand;

    (b)strengthening co-operation between public and private medical institutions, and encouraging private medical institutions to provide a higher level of services and enhance the transparency of their charges, so as to attract more people who can afford such charges to use private medical services; and

    (c)strengthening the co-ordination among relevant departments, so as to formulate long-term goals and strategies for vigorously pursuing the promotion of primary health education and disease prevention.


Public Officer to attend : Secretary for Health and Welfare Clerk to the Legislative Council