PLC Paper No. CB(1) 455
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref: CB1/PL/ES/1

Provisional Legislative Council
Panel on Economic Services

Minutes of the special meeting held on Saturday, 11 October 1997, at 11:15 am in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP (Chairman)
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun, JP
    Hon LO Suk-ching

Members absent :

    Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
    Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
    Hon Allen LEE, JP
    Hon Henry WU
    Hon YUEN Mo
    Hon CHAN Choi-hi
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, JP
    Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Public officers attending :

Mr Stephen IP, JP
Secretary for Economic Services

Deputy Secretary for Economic Services/1

Ms Maria KWAN
Deputy Secretary for Economic Services/2

Mr Richard YUEN
Deputy Secretary for Economic Services/3

Director of Civil Aviation

Mr I B Dale
Director of Marine

Mr Richard YIP
Acting Director of Agriculture and Fisheries

Mr H B Phillipson
Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services

Dr LAM Hung-kwan
Director of the Hong Kong Observatory

Mr Anthony S K WONG
Director - General of Telecommunications

Mr Robert Footman
Postmaster General

Clerk in attendance :

Ms Estella CHAN
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)4

Staff in attendance :

Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Mr Daniel HUI
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)5

I Briefing by the Administration on the Chief Executive's Policy Address

The Secretary for Economic Services (SES) briefed members on the objectives and new commitments in Economic Services Bureau (ESB)'s major policy programme areas. (Post-meeting note : A copy of the presentation materials has been circulated to members vide PLC Paper No. CB(1)348 dated 17 October 1997.)


2. Members expressed concern about the declining number of overseas visitors to Hong Kong and enquired about the Administration's plan to promote Hong Kong's tourist industry. SES responded that a $100 million loan fund would be established to assist the Hong Kong Tourist Association (HKTA) in organizing international events in order to attract overseas visitors to Hong Kong. Interest rate on the loan made to HKTA was envisaged to be at a below-market rate of 5%. ESB was aware of members?concern and a task force had been formed to examine the issue and make recommendations on measures to enhance the competitiveness of Hong Kong's tourist industry, including identification and promotion of Hong Kong's new tourist attractions and production of new promotion materials.

Air Services Agreements

3. Members noted that under the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government would need to seek authorization from the Central People's Government before signing Air Services Agreements (ASAs) with other countries, and enquired about progress on the issue. In response, SES advised that HKSAR Government had discussed the issue with the Central People's Government and good progress had been made. Meanwhile Hong Kong's air services with other countries were maintained. Hong Kong aimed to conclude more ASAs with other countries in order to maintain itself as a centre of regional and international aviation. With the opening of the new airport at Chek Lap Kok next year, more flights were expected to operate to and from Hong Kong.

New Airport at Chek Lap Kok

4. Members enquired about the opening date of the new airport and opined that to enhance the new airport's efficiency the airport railway should be opened at the same time. SES replied that about 80% of the construction work in the new airport had been completed. The target opening date of the new airport remained as April 1998. The Administration was undertaking a comprehensive review on the progress of development of the new airport and supporting facilities, including the airport railway and the air cargo freight centre. An announcement on the opening date of the new airport would be made after completion of the review.

5. As regards contractors?claims relating to construction of the airport, SES confirmed that claims from contractors had been received but the claims would not affect the progress of construction.


6. Members enquired about the Administration's plan to attract ship owners to register their ships in Hong Kong. SES responded that Marine Department had established a working group to consider the feasibility of introducing improvement measures covering taxation, documentation and procedures, registration and ship inspection fees with a view to encouraging registration of ships in Hong Kong.

7. Members pointed out that it was important for Hong Kong to have shipyards for ship repairs in order to promote Hong Kong as a shipping centre, and expressed concern about Government's recent proposal to remove shipyards located at North Tsing Yi Island. In response, the Director of Marine (DOM) explained that there were two types of repair shipyards the first type of which provided repair and maintenance service to local craft and the other type to ocean-going vessels. The shipyards providing maintenance service to local craft were facing difficulties because cheaper prices and labour were available in other shipyards in the Pearl River area. ESB and MD had supported the need for continued operation of repair shipyards in North Tsing Yi Island for provision of maintenance service to local craft. As regards shipyards providing maintenance service to ocean-going vessels, MD supported moves to enhance the industry's competitiveness in the light of competitions from shipyards in other regional ports. SES added that the issue relating to removal of shipyards from North Tsing Yi Island was being handled by the Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau (PELB). ESB had forwarded its views to PELB in support of the need to have shipyards in North Tsing Yi for provision of maintenance service to local craft.

8. As regards the Administration's policy to support the ship repair industry, the Deputy Secretary for Economic Services/3 (DSES/3) advised that the Port Development Board had conducted a review on the importance of ship repair industry to Hong Kong's port development and concluded that priority should be given to shipyards providing repair service to local craft. As regards manpower training for the industry, the provision of additional training facilities might not be able to resolve all the problems because technicians in Hong Kong generally did not like to work in shipyards because of the tough working conditions. The industry might have to look for assistance under the Supplementary Labour Scheme.

Container Terminals

9. Members enquired whether the principle of introducing more competition as adopted in the tendering exercise for Container Terminal (CT) 9 would also be adopted for CT10 and 11. SES responded that ESB saw the merits of introducing competition thus lower prices to the market and the principle should be adopted in future tendering for container terminals. However, details about the tendering for CT10 and 11 were yet to be decided.

10. Members opined that Hong Kong should maintain close liaison with the Mainland's port authorities at the working level in order to enhance co-ordination in port development. SES advised that he had visited major ports in the Mainland and that Hong Kong's port development proposals had taken into account port development in the Mainland. DSES/3 added that ESB had direct contacts with the Ministry of Communications in Beijing and port authority in Shenzhen. The port cargo forecast prepared in 1995 had been forwarded to the authorities for reference. The Shenzhen port authority had indicated that their port development plans would try to ensure that total cargo handling capacity in the Pearl River area including Hong Kong would not be larger than the port cargo forecast prepared by Hong Kong. To improve communications between the two sides, ESB was planning to hold regular meetings with port authorities in the Mainland and to exchange cargo statistics on a regular basis.

Public safety

11. Members enquired whether the extent of the problem related to damage of underground electricity cables and overhead electricity wires was so serious that the Administration would need to introduce new legislation to address the issue. The Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services (DEMS) replied that as there was a large number of construction projects going on, there would be a continued problem of damage of underground cables leading to threats of electric shocks. The Administration had recently introduced legislation for protection of gas mains and the next priority was legislation to deter damaging of underground cables by third parties.

12. At members?request, DEMS agreed to provide written information on the number of cases involving damaging of underground electricity cables.

II Any other business

13. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 12:15 pm.

Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
5 November 1997

Last Updated on 5 December 1997