PLC Paper No. FC 47
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/F/1/2

Finance Committee of the Provisional Legislative Council

Minutes of the sixth meeting held at the Legislative Council Chamber on Friday, 17 October 1997, at 2:30 pm

Members present :

    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Henry WU (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon WONG Siu-yee
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP
    Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
    Hon NG Leung-sing
    Prof Hon NG Ching-fai
    Hon LEE Kai-ming
    Hon Allen LEE, JP
    Hon Mrs Elsie TU, GBM
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, JP
    Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Hon YUEN Mo
    Hon MA Fung-kwok
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Dr Hon Mrs TSO WONG Man-yin
    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
    Hon Mrs Sophie LEUNG LAU Yau-fun, JP
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP
    Hon CHAN Choi-hi
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon TSANG Yok-sing
    Hon CHENG Kai-nam
    Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
    Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon LAU Kong-wah
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP
    Hon CHOY So-yuk

Members absent :

    Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
    Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
    Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, JP
    Hon LEUNG Chun-ying, JP
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
    Hon CHIM Pui-chung
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, JP
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun, JP
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
    Hon KAN Fook-yee
    Hon LO Suk-ching

Public officers attending :

Mrs Carrie LAM, JP
Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
Principal Executive Officer (General), Finance Bureau
Ms Michelle LI
Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (1)
Professor TAM Sheung-wai, JP
President of the Open University of Hong Kong
Professor Danny S N WONG
Vice-President (Academic) of the Open University of Hong Kong
Mrs Clarie LO
Commissioner for Narcotics
Ms Lynda SHINE
Senior Government Counsel
Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower (5)
Mr Stephen AU
Chief Systems Manager of the Vocational Training Council
Mr Cletus LAU, JP
Director of General Grades

Clerk in attendance :

Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Staff in attendance :

Mrs Vivian KAM
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)5
Mr Matthew LOO
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)7

Item No. 1 - FCR(97-98)42

HEAD 176 - SUBVENTIONS: MISCELLANEOUS New Capital Account Subhead "Grant to the Open University of Hong Kong"

The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 2 - FCR(97-98)41
HEAD 151 - GOVERNMENT SECRETARIAT: SECURITY BUREAU Subhead 700 General other non-recurrent
New item "Sharing of confiscated drug trafficking proceeds with the United States Government"

2. Mrs Selina CHOW pointed out that the proposal was a major issue involving the sharing of confiscated proceeds with a foreign government. She considered it appropriate for the proposal to be first referred to the relevant Panel for deliberation so that Members of the Council would have a better understanding of the background and implications of the policy concerned.

3. In response, the Commissioner for Narcotics advised that the case had been considered by the Executive Council in 1993 subsequent to which a Legislative Council Brief was issued setting out details of the policy on the confiscation of assets. The requirement for the sharing of assets was examined on a case-by-case basis and was in line with the principle laid down in the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance for the sharing of assets with co-operative countries on drug trafficking and money laundering cases. The sharing of assets was done in accordance with international conventions and there was no legal requirement for doing so. She added that the United States Government would give priority to breaking drug rings in co-operation with governments which were willing to share proceeds, and that the Hong Kong Government had also made a similar request to the United States Government. Furthermore, another pending case might have to be considered by the Finance Committee in the near future.

4. Mrs Chow stressed that not many Members of the present legislature had knowledge of the arrangements agreed in 1993. To facilitate consideration by members and to save the time of this Committee, detailed discussions on the policy aspects, e.g. existing practices amongst foreign countries, the criteria for determining the ratio of proceeds to be shared, etc. should be dealt with at the Panel. She suggested that the proposal be withdrawn and the matter be discussed by the Security Panel.

5. Noting that the proposal would set a precedent case and that some members of the Finance Committee were not aware of the historical background leading up to the proposal, the Chairman enquired with the Administration on whether they were prepared to withdraw the proposal and brief the Security Panel on the policy aspects before re-submission. As the sharing of confiscated proceeds would be applicable to foreign governments in general, he suggested that discussion at the Security Panel should be broad-based instead of focusing on the arrangements with the United States Government. The Deputy Secretary for the Treasury agreed to withdraw the paper and resubmit in a future meeting after discussion with the Security Panel. Admin

6. The item was withdrawn by the Administration.

Item No. 3 - FCR(97-98)43
New Capital Account Subhead "Vocational Training Council - information technology infrastructure"

7. Dr Raymond HO, Professor NG Ching-fai, Mr Howard YOUNG and Mr TAM Yiu-chung declared interest as members of the Vocational Training Council.

8. The Committee approved the proposal.

Item No. 4 - FCR(97-98)44
Subhead 700 General other non-recurrent
New item "Computer equipment and training for clerical and secretarial staff"

9. In response to members?questions on the detailed arrangements for developing the clerical and secretarial staff into multi-skilled workforce, the Director of General Grades provided the following information -

  1. there was no plan and no need to contract out the conduct of the proficiency tests as there had been a standing arrangement in the civil service for conducting such tests and no complaints on its neutrality had been received;
  2. the proposal for three clerical staff to share one workstation was to maximise the use of resources as computing and word-processing only formed part of their duties;
  3. the Administration was mindful of the need for acquiring the most advanced hardware and software to keep pace with technology; and
  4. the number of training places of 27 230 was proposed after taking into account the training needs of different levels of staff in the grades concerned, and the subjects would include mainly spreadsheet and database; training on word-processing was not included as funding for such training had already been provided in 1995.

10. The Committee approved the proposal.

11. The Committee was adjourned at 2:50 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
4 November 1997