LegCo Paper No. FC 45/96-97
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/F/1/2

Legislative Council Finance Committee

Minutes of the proceedings of the meeting held on Friday, 13 December 1996 at 2:30 pm in the Legislative Council Chamber

Members present :
    Dr Hon YEUNG Sum (Chairman)
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Hon Edward S T HO, 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 Michael HO Mun-ka
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, OBE, JP
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    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 Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon LO Suk-ching
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling
Members absent :
    Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
    Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Public officers attending :
    Mr K C KWONG, JP
    Secretary for the Treasury
    Mr Kevin HO, JP
    Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
    Ms Miranda CHIU
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare (Welfare)1
    Mrs Nancy TSE
    Assistant Director of Social Welfare (Family and Child Welfare)
    Ms Lorna WONG
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare (Elderly Services)
    Mr S H PAU, JP
    Deputy Director of Architectural Services
    Mr Paul WONG
    Assistant Director of Social Welfare (Subventions)
    Mrs Leslie HUNG
    Assistant Director of Social Welfare (Elderly and Medical Social Services)
    Ms Alice TAI, JP
    Judiciary Administrator
    Mr Nicholas YEK
    Deputy Judiciary Administrator
    Mr Alan DIXEY
    Chief Systems Manager of Information Technology Services Department
    Mr HUI Kai-ling
    Senior Systems Manager of Information Technology Services Department
    Mr Alan CHU
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Security
    Mr Patrick NIP
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Trade and Industry
    Mr LI Shu-fai, JP
    Commissioner of Customs and Excise
    Mr WONG Pui-sham
    Superintendent of Customs and Excise Department
    Mr LEE Kai-leung
    General Manager of Government Dockyard
    Mr CHAN Ming-yau
    Senior Maintenance Manager of Government Dockyard
    Mr Danny TSUI
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
    Mr David WONG
    Assistant Director of Environmental Protection
    Dr Richard RUBIRA
    Veterinary Officer of Agriculture and Fisheries Department
Clerk in attendance :
    Miss Pauline NG
    Assistant Secretary General 1
Staff in attendance :
    Mrs Constance LI
    Chief Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)
    Mr Andy LAU
    Senior Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)

Item No. 1 - FCR(96-97)80


The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 2 - FCR(96-97)81


2. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 3 - FCR(96-97)83


Subhead 175 Child care centre fee assistance

3. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 4 - FCR(96-97)82



Subhead 896 Tung Wah Group of Hospitals

4. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 5 - FCR(96-97)84




" New Subhead "Implementation of Judiciary Information Systems Strategy Phase II"

5. Members noted that the proposal had been discussed at the LegCo Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services which was generally in support of the proposal. Responding to a member's question, the Judiciary Administrator (JA) advised that staff training would be an important part of the project and provisions had been included for this purpose. However, detailed staff training programme would have to await finalisation of the system design and work procedures. As to whether members of the public would be trained to use the system, JA advised that the design would be user-friendly and no training for members of the public would be necessary. Nevertheless, during the initial stage of implementation, her staff would help customers to familiarize with the system and provide every assistance required.

6. As to whether the cost estimates had included provisions for system upgrade or replacement to cater for future requirements, JA clarified that the cost estimates were worked out on the basis of existing and anticipated requirements in the foreseeable future. While the provisions sought would cater for minor system modifications arising from those legislative and other changes that were already in the pipeline or were anticipated, additional provisions might be required should unforeseen changes need to take place in future. The Senior Systems Manager of Information Technology Services Department (SSM/ITSD) added that system hardware normally had a serviceable life span of seven to ten years, while the software could be used as long as the user requirements remained unchanged.

7. A member asked what measures had been taken by the Government in relation to the Director of Audit's (D of A's) recommendations on the implementation of major computerisation projects in government departments. In response, the Secretary for the Treasury advised that D of A's recommendations on computerisation focused on two aspects, that is, to ensure the realisation of anticipated savings as promised in funding submissions, and to put in place an effective project monitoring system to resolve problems in implementation. In this respect, the Government had taken active steps through the Computer Strategy Group to assist departments to avoid pitfalls which could lead to delays in implementation and realisation of savings. The Finance Committee had also been kept informed of the progress of the approved projects by means of regular progress reports, and in case of delay in implementation, the reasons and measures taken were included in the report. With regard to the Judiciary Information Systems Strategy, JA confirmed that implementation was supervised by a steering committee chaired by herself and a management group led by her deputy with expert assistance from ITSD.

8. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 6 - FCR(96-97)86


" Subhead 603 Plant, vehicles and equipment

New Item "Procurement of two sector patrol launches"

9. Responding to members' questions, the Commissioner of Customs and Excise (C/C&E) admitted that, with the existing small patrol fleet, Customs control in waters covering Mirs Bay, Tolo Harbour and Sai Kung was inadequate at the moment. With the development of new seaports in the south-eastern coast of Guangdong such as Yantian and Weidong, there had been a substantial increase in cross border smuggling activities by vessels in the eastern waters of Hong Kong. At present, Customs had to rely on the Marine Police and the Customs Land Enforcement teams in intercepting contrabands, and such enforcement efforts had become increasingly difficult in view of the wide area requiring patrol. The provision of two additional patrol launches would enable Customs to re-deploy the existing Customs launches to cover the waters and cargo loading points in the northeast area. One of the additional launches under request would carry out 24-hours patrol in the north-eastern waters, mainly the Mirs Bay and Tolo Harbour, and the other vessel would cover the south-eastern waters and, if necessary, provide relief to other launches. On the deployment arrangements, C/C&E clarified that while each patrol launch would be responsible for a designated area, there would be flexibility in deployment to cope with emergency or large-scale operations. C/C&E expected that the reinforced Customs control in the northeast waters would provide effective deterrence against smuggling activities in this area.

10. In response to the Senior Maintenance Manager of Government Dockyard's clarification that the routine maintenance of each Customs launch would usually take five weeks a year, a member commented that this maintenance period appeared to be unreasonably long. He further questioned if the vessels could be procured directly from open market. In reply, the Administration advised that the procurement would be by means of an open tender. In addition to the tender notice in gazette, foreign trade commissions in Hong Kong would also be notified of Government's intention to procure the vessels by tender. On the estimated cost of the vessels, the Administration advised that it was based on previous procurement exercises with adjustments for inflation, and the findings of a recent market survey. The Administration considered that the estimated price in the funding submission would not have the effect of inflating the actual tender price which would be subject to a fair and competitive open tendering exercise.

11. On the individual items of expenditure, the General Manager of Government Dockyard clarified that the estimated costs of $1 million for the two inflatables already included the engines and the accessories. The Government had no particular views as to whether such inflatables should be made to order or procured from open market, provided that the design was compatible with the main vessel. As regards the communication systems, C/C&E clarified that the radio telephone system on board was mainly for communication with the base, while mobile phones would be used during patrol on islands.

12. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 7 - FCR(96-97)85


" Subhead 700 General other non-recurrent

Capital grants to livestock farmers

13. Responding to members, the Assistant Director of Environmental Protection Department (AD/EPD) advised that the present funding proposal was related to the final phase (Phase III) of the ten-year Livestock Waste Control Programme which had brought a total of 1 030 farms under regulation of the Waste Disposal Ordinance since 1987. Of the 705 farms affected in Phases I and II, 281 applications had been received and granted payments. In Phase III which covered about 300 farms, 144 applications had been received so far and more applications were expected before the deadline on 31 December 1996. Compared to the previous survey conducted in 1993, the estimated number of 300 applicants under Phase III represented a reduction of 80 applicants. The reduced number might be attributed to the decision of some farmers to cease business.


14. With regard to the monitoring mechanism, AD/EPD informed members those farms which had been brought under control of the Ordinance in Phases I and II were now subject to regular inspections. About 380 farms in Phase I and 60% of the 320 farms in Phase II had already installed waste treatment facilities to comply with the statutory environmental standards. At the request of a member, he undertook to provide further information on the number of farmers who had ceased business after receiving capital grants under Phases I and II.


15. As regards whether livestock farmers who chose to cease business were eligible for compensation, AD/EPD advised that these farmers could apply for ex-gratia payments. However, livestock farmers who joined the trade after the enactment of the Ordinance in 1987 were not eligible for capital grants or ex-gratia payments, and they were required to comply with the statutory environmental standards with their own resources. At the request of a member, the Administration would provide further information on the productivity of the livestock farmers in 1996.

16. On the question of whether the scheme had achieved its objective of reducing pollution generated by livestock waste, AD/EPD advised that when compared to 1987, the volume of polluted livestock waste had been reduced by 85%, which was equivalent to the pollution generated by a population of 1.4 million.

17. Replying to a member, AD/EPD advised that a review on environmental standards was carried out in 1994 and no substantial change to these standards was envisaged in the foreseeable future. There was therefore no foreseeable need for additional provisions arising from the requirements to comply with enhanced environmental standards.

18. The Committee approved the proposal.

19. The Committee was adjourned at 3:30 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat

10 January 1997