LegCo Paper No. FC 132/96-97
(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, 25 April 1997, at 2:30 pm in the Legislative Council Chamber

Members present :

    Dr Hon YEUNG Sum (Chairman)
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
    Hon SZETO Wah
    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 Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
    Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Hon LAW Chi-kwong
    Hon LEE Kai-ming
    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon LO Suk-ching
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP

Members absent :

    Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP
    Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
    Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Hon CHIM Pui-chung
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, OBE, JP
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Hon LAU Chin-shek
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

Public officers attending :

    Mr Kevin HO
    JP Secretary for the Treasury
    Mrs Carrie LAM
    Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
    Miss Annette LEE
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (2)
    Dr Y M LEUNG
    Assistant Director of Education
    Mr Daniel W C LAM
    Chief Systems Manager of Information Technology Services Department
    Ms Michelle LI
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (1)
    Mr Alfred WONG
    Controller, Student Financial Assistance Agency
    Mr Esmond LEE
    Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
    Mr Frank PHILLIPS
    Chief Estate Surveyor of Lands Department
    Mr C M MO, JP
    Principal Government Land Agent of Lands Department

Clerk in attendance :

    Mrs Vivian KAM
    Assistant Secretary General 1

    Staff in attendance :

    Mrs Constance LI
    Chief Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)

Item No. 1 - FCR(97-98)5
Subhead 305 Code of Aid for secondary schools
Subhead 834 Equipment for computer studies

Members reiterated their concern for the provision of more computer equipment and advanced software to schools to better equip the next generation for the economic development of Hong Kong. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (2) noted members’ concern and assured members that the Administration was moving in that direction.

2. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 2 - FCR(97-98)6
Student Financial Assistance Agency
"New Subhead "Student Financial Assistance Management System"
Subhead 001 Salaries

3. On the non-realisable savings made possible by the proposed integrated computer system, the Controller, Student Financial Assistance Agency advised that with automation of some manual vetting processes, teachers would no longer need to check the eligibility of students under the schemes and could devote more time to teaching duties. Members noted that such notional savings in teachers’ time would not result in any deletion of posts in schools.

4. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 3 - FCR(97-98)7
Home Purchase Allowance

5. Members noted that the original proposal had been discussed at the Finance Committee meeting on 19 July 1996 but was negatived. The Administration had revised the proposal in the light of members’ comments.

6. In response to members’ questions, the Administration gave the following clarifications:

  1. Home Purchase Allowance (HPA) would not be payable for domestic premises used for commercial purposes including storage of commercial items, as the use of the premises was in breach of the lease.

  2. The Administration would use the same unit of measurement for calculating the floor area of the replacement flat and the flat for which HPA would be payable. Normally, the net area of the property would be used for calculation, except for some complicated old buildings where only the gross area could be measured.

  3. For joint owners or company owners, an individual owner or shareholder would only be eligible for HPA up to two properties, with the HPA calculated pro rata to the share for each joint owner or shareholder.

7. On behalf of the Democratic Party (DP), Mr Albert CHAN supported the revised proposal which was the result of discussions with the Administration since July last year. DP considered the revised proposal generally acceptable, although they still had reservations on the proposal for HPA to be paid at only 50% of the full rate for a tenanted flat despite its being the only tenanted flat of the owner. As to whether the 50% rule would apply also to tenanted flats owned by non-profit-making organisations, the Chief Estate Surveyor of Lands Department (CES/Lands) advised that while the issue had not been specifically discussed within the Administration, he saw no reason why 50% of the HPA would not be payable if the organisation could demonstrate that the tenanted flat was for charitable purpose.

8. Mr IP Kwok-him indicated that the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong supported the revised proposal in view of the need to expedite improvements to the environment of some old districts. In reply to Mr IP, CES/Lands advised that a flat was classified ‘vacant’ if it was not the principal residence of the owner and no tenant had a right to live there. CES/Lands confirmed that no HPA would be paid for the vacant flat if its owner had a residence elsewhere.

9. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 4 - FCR(97-98)8

New Subhead "Redemption money and interest payable thereon in respect of land exchange entitlements under the New Territories Land Exchange Entitlements (Redemption) Ordinance"

10. Responding to a member on the present status of the legislative amendments to the New Territories Land Exchange Entitlements (Redemption) Ordinance, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands advised that the Legislative Council had passed the Ordinance in December 1996 which provided for the payment of redemption money in accordance with the rates set out in the Schedule to the Ordinance. The rates for the redemption money were based on the monetised values of the land exchange entitlements effective from 1 October 1997. As the monetised values had been updated to be effective from 1 April 1997, an amendment bill would shortly be introduced to update the rates in the Schedule accordingly. As regards whether approval of the funding proposal would bind the Legislative Council in its consideration of the legislative amendments, the Deputy Secretary for the Treasury advised that the proposal sought approval of a financial commitment for payment of redemption money under the Ordinance, and the actual rates would still be subject to approval of the amendment bill by the Legislative Council. Should the Council disapprove the proposed rates, redemption payment would only be made in accordance with the approved rates set out in the Schedule.

11. The Committee approved the proposal.

12. The Committee was adjourned at 2:55 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
26 May 1997

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