Record of Meeting held on 3 November 1995 at 2:30p.m.
in the Legislative Council Chamber
Dr Hon YEUNG Sum (Chairman)
Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, OBE, JP
Hon Martin LEE Chu-ming, QC, JP
Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, OBE, JP
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon CHIM Pui-chung
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon CHAN Kam-lam
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon LAU Chin-shek
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
Hon LAW Chi-kwong
Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon MOK Ying-fan
Hon Margaret NG
Hon SIN Chung-kai
Hon TSANG Kin-shing
Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon Allen LEE Peng-fei, CBE, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, OBE, LLD, JP
Dr Hon Edward LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
Hon David CHU Yu-lin
Hon LO Suk-ching
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
In Attendance for specific items:
Mr J MCKINLEY
Principal Assistant Secretary for Works
Mr KO Chan-gock, JP
Deputy Director of Water Supplies
Mr WATT Chi-ngong, JP
Assistant Director of Water Supplies
Mrs Irene YAU, ISO, JP
Director of Information Services
Mr Robin C GILL
Deputy Director of Information Services
Mr YUEN Kam-ho
Assistant Director of Information Services
Mr Robin MCLEISH
Principal Assistant Secretary for Home Affairs
Mr Patrick LAU
Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service
Mr Victor YUNG
Principal Assistant Secretary for the Civil Service
Mrs Mary SZETO
Civil Service Training Director
Miss Joey LAM
Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
Mr C W TSE
Principal Environmental Protection Officer of Environmental Protection Department|
Mr K C KWONG, JP
Secretary for the Treasury
Mr Alan LAI, JP
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
Mrs Lilian WONG
Principal Executive Officer (LegCo Unit), Finance Branch
Miss Pauline NG
Clerk to the Finance Committee
Mrs Constance LI
Chief Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)|
Item No. 1 - FCR(95-96)65
HEAD 194 - WATER SUPPLIES DEPARTMENT
Subhead 121 Contract maintenance
Responding to Members questions, the Deputy Director of Water Supplies (DD/WS) explained the reasons for the increase in serious bursts and damage to waterwork installations. He stressed that steps had been taken to use more shock-resistant and durable materials for the water mains, so as to minimise the damage caused to underground mains by increased traffic load. As regards accidental damage caused by road or utility works, DD/WS explained that the cases of accidents had dropped from 360 in 1990-91 to 227 in 1994-95, and to 109 in the first six months of 1995-96. It was an established practice to recover the repair costs and administrative charges from the contractor or utility company concerned for such damage.
2. In reply to Members, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Works admitted that the Government did not at present have sufficient information on the condition of the underground water supply system, especially for those sections installed before the 1980s. The Government was now taking steps to improve the situation and would submit a proposal to the Finance Committee shortly for funds to engage consultants to carry out a study on the underground assets and to digitize paper drawings. The objective was to draw up a long-term improvement and management plan for existing underground waterworks installations, and to facilitate exchange of digitised information with other utilities companies. On the present coordination of road works and underground installations, DD/WS advised that various coordinating committees comprising representatives of different government departments and utilities companies had been set up at different levels to enhance communication and coordination.
3. Some Members questioned the scale of the supplementary provision which represented a 40% increase over the original provision. DD/WS explained that, in addition to the higher contract costs in meeting the present required standards, the increased expenditure was due to the unusual heavy rains in the first few months of 1995-96 giving rise to an upsurge in the number of emergency repairs and re-instatement works for the waterworks installations as well as the affected carriage ways and pavements. As the current provision was limited, it could only cater for normal repairs and preventive maintenance. DD/WS further confirmed that repair works were largely carried out by contractors. For new works, one year maintenance period was usually provided for the works done. He also assured Members that there was no question of monopoly in awarding the maintenance contracts as quite a large number of approved contractors were qualified for undertaking such works.
4. Referring to some Members concern about the frequency of serious bursts in April to August 1995 (104 cases in total), particularly in Mainland Southwest and other densely populated areas, the Chairman requested that the subject be further pursued at the relevant Panel. DD/WS agreed to provide Members with a breakdown, on a district basis, on the number of main bursts and leaks with repair work carried out by the term contractors.
5. The Committee approved the proposal.
Item No. 2 - FCR(95-96)66
HEAD 74 - INFORMATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT
Subhead 700 General other non-recurrent
6. Members generally were in support of staging a Hong Kong promotion in the United States in 1996 to enhance its awareness of business opportunities with Hong Kong. Questions were raised on the logistical arrangements and the tangible results achieved from the overseas promotions since 1992.
7. Regarding the selection of cultural performances and exhibitions, the Director of Information Services (DIS) explained that this would be coordinated by a Steering Committee comprising representatives of the Recreation and Culture Branch and other participating organisations such as the Trade Development Council and the Hong Kong Tourist Association. Based on the experience in previous promotions, the performances selected by the Steering Committee had been of high quality and proved to be very popular in the host countries. She also noted a Members suggestion that an Art Director who had professional knowledge in art and cultural performances could be hired to help the Steering Committee in ensuring the quality of exhibitions and performances.
8. In response to a Members question, DIS said that the business seminars would cover not only Hong Kongs major exports, but also service industries including financial and banking services, telecommunications and tourism. While the main purpose was to promote Hong Kongs economic interests, there would also be opportunities for senior Hong Kong government officials to answer questions about the future of Hong Kong.
9. In reply to Members questions on the cost-effectiveness of the promotion expenses, DIS provided the following information:
- While it would be difficult to have a scientific evaluation of the impact of promotions overseas, the promotions had served to establish contacts with senior government officials and legislators overseas, and had enlarged Hong Kongs databank of commercial contacts in these major trading partners.
- The Government would continue to seek sponsorship from the private sector as in the past. The sponsorship received in the previous promotions was in the region of 20% of the total costs.
- As a joint venture with the Hong Kong Government, the Trade Development Council and the Hong Kong Tourist Association would also stage their own events to enhance the impact of the promotion.
- The project costs did not include the staff costs of $1.3 million for two temporary posts required to coordinate the activities, which had already been provided for in the Estimates.
10. The Committee approved the item.
Item No. 3 - FCR(95-96)67
HEAD 46 -GENERAL EXPENSES OF THE CIVIL SERVICE
Subhead 024 Relief and welfare of civil servants
11. The Committee approved the item.
Item No. 4 - FCR(95-96)68
HEAD 29 - GOVERNMENT SECRETARIAT: CIVIL SERVICE TRAINING CENTRE
Subhead 700 General other non-recurrent
12. In response to a Members question, the Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (DS/CS) explained that with the development of representative government and the reversion of sovereignty in 1997, it would be necessary to provide more training to civil servants to enable them to communicate effectively in Chinese and to better understand the administrative and socio-economic system in China. As the Government had in the past mainly used English as an official language, very limited training resources had been put into Chinese language training.
13. On the selection of target trainees, the Civil Service Training Director said that in view of the great demand for such training, about 60,000 self-learning packages on Chinese writing and booklets on samples would be made available, in addition to courses for about 2,200 middle-ranking officers who would be selected on the basis of their job requirements. Due to limited resources at the Civil Service Training Centre, many of these courses would be conducted by local tertiary institutions. As regards Cantonese training for expatriate officers, DS/CS confirmed that only those expatriate officers who had decided to serve after 1997 and whose job required the use of Cantonese would be considered for training. He added that all new recruits for posts with entry requirement at five passes in the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination level would need to have a pass in Chinese Language.
14. Some Members pointed out that quite a number of proposals had been put to the Committee recently for funds to enhance the use of Chinese in the civil service and in schools. To enable Members to have a better understanding of Governments long-term policy and direction in language education, the Administration was requested to present a background paper for discussion at the Education Panel.
15. The Committee approved the proposal.
Item No. 5 - FCR(95-96)69
CAPITAL WORKS RESERVE FUND
HEAD 708 - CAPITAL SUBVENTIONS AND MAJOR SYSTEMS AND EQUIPMENT
Environmental Protection Department
New Subhead Comprehensive air quality modelling system
16. Replying to a Member, the Principal Environmental Protection Officer (PEPO) explained that the present proposal had not been provided for in the approved Estimates. The proposal was to seek approval for commissioning a consultancy study on the development of a territory-wide air quality modelling system to assist policy planners to assess the air quality impact of different land use scenarios. Addressing Members concern about the adequacy and accuracy of the existing air quality monitoring system, PEPO assured Members that the existing tools were capable of providing reliable air quality information on a district basis for day-to-day use, and there were plans to provide two or three additional monitoring stations in the coming year to expand the spectrum of air samples. The new modelling system, however, was to provide air quality assessment for preventive strategic planning on land uses, taking into account Hong Kongs topography, air flow and the sources and transformation of air pollution on a territory-wide basis. As the system would be very specialized, and in the absence of local expertise, the Administration considered it more cost-effective to engage consultancy service.
17. On the impact and usefulness of the proposed system, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands advised that air quality assessment would definitely be an important consideration in town planning, and the information would also have an impact on the evaluation of related policies and land use decisions. While the existing monitoring system was useful in identifying solutions to existing problems, for example, improvements to the air quality in Kwai Chung and Kwun Tong, a comprehensive modelling system would be necessary to provide a broader perspective for long-term planning. PEPO added that a preventive approach would be more cost-effective, in the long run, than making remedies to problems.
18. As regards the possibility for Hong Kong to draw reference to overseas research and existing modelling systems instead of commissioning a separate consultancy study, PEPO advised that there was no suitable system overseas that could be directly applied in Hong Kong because of Hong Kongs complex topography, proximity to the sea and configuration of buildings.
19. On the cost-effectiveness of the system, PEPO said the cost of the proposed system was comparable to a similar modelling system on water quality which was approved in 1987 at a total cost of $24 million. He further advised that air quality modelling systems were being used in developed countries like the United States, Australia and in Europe. Some Members considered that it would be useful to have a briefing by the Administration on the operation and benefits of the proposed air quality modelling system.
20. The Committee approved the proposal. Miss Emily LAU abstained.
21. The Committee was adjourned at 4:45 p.m.
Legislative Council Secretariat
24 November 1995
Last Updated on 27 November 1998