The week ahead April 20

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Political reform proposal will finally be out this Wednesday while filibustering will officially kickstart on the same day. 

 

April 20  Monday

 

ITB to launch again

LegCo’s Subcommittee on the Establishment of the Innovation and Technology Bureau will meet for the first time after the staffing proposals failed to pass through the Finance Committee in February.

Last month, the Government told LegCo that it will propose a resolution to refute the resolution passed last year in the Council to establish the Innovation and Technology Bureau, and a new resolution for the same purpose as last year will be proposed again in April. The Government reiterated that it is not trying to create a slippery slope by refuting an approved resolution. Relevant funding proposals of ITB will be submitted to the Finance Committee after the Council approves the Appropriation Bill.

 

Eliminating discrimination against sexual minorities

Panel on Constitutional Affairs today will discuss the progress of the work of the Advisory Group on Eliminating Discrimination against Sexual Minorities. The Advisory Group was created in 2013 and has thus far convened eight meetings.

Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Dr York Chow, announced previously that he will submit recommendations to the Government for a new anti-discrimination law by the end of this year which the new law may incorporate the current four anti-discrimination laws (race, family status, sex, disability) into one. EOC has also commissioned CUHK to study on the discrimination problem against sexual minorities and will have the findings by next year.


April  21 Tuesday

 

2014 earnings and hours survey released

Panel on Manpower will discuss the outcome of the 2014 Annual Earnings and Hours Survey released in March. It shows the median income from May to June 2014 was $14,800, 5.3% higher than the median of $14,100 from May to June 2013. The median hourly wage of employees in Hong Kong from May to June 2014 was $60.0, 4.3% higher than the median of $57.5 in the same period a year ago.


April 22 Wednesday

 

Government to announce the political reform proposal

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Raymond Tam confirmed that the Government will reveal the reform package on this Wednesday. “Our approach would be to use the necessary legal room to maximise the democratic elements, and also to inject some openness, transparency and accountability in that respect, and to allow more people, more aspiring personalities to enter this ‘game of thrones’, so to speak,” Mr Tam said last Saturday. He also said that the Government will lower the entrance threshold for CE candidates, but only to a moderate extent to “maintain the orderly conduct of the election process”.

 

PWSC on Kai Tak Multi-purpose Sports Complex

Public Works Subcommittee will continue its discussion on building a Multi-purpose Sports Complex at Kai Tak. The Government is seeking to commence some pre-construction works at a cost of $62.7 million. Last time, members were concerned of the sports strategy of Hong Kong to complement the complex, the purpose of the complex and the transport support.

Other construction proposals to discuss:

  • $1,549.9 million for relocating the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department at Sai Yee Street to Yen Ming Road, West Kowloon Reclamation Area.
  • $137.1 million for refurbish and upgrade the Sha Tin Transfer Station.

 

Filibustering begins

The Council will start dealing the over 3,000 amendments to the Appropriation Bill after members took turns to give broad speeches on the Bill last week. DAB’s Tam Yiu-chung (GC- NT West) condemned the filibustering.

Pan-dems criticised Financial Secretary John Tsang for his miscalculation of the surplus and the Budget lacked a long term vision. Kwok Ka-ki (GC- NT West, Civic Party) called Mr Tsang a “liar” and Frederick Fung (FC- DC 2nd, ADPL) said Tsang has failed to deal with the 15-year free education and the long waiting time in public hospitals. Democratic Party’s James To (FC- DC 2nd) and Professional Common’s Kenneth Leung (FC- Accountancy) blasted the Government for bundling items which should be debated by the Financial Committee to the Bill (read more here).


April 24 Friday

 

Carrie Lam discusses Population Policy with LegCo

House Committee will hold a special meeting of which Chief Secretary will attend to discuss the Population Policy with the members. The Government estimates the total population of Hong Kong will grow moderately from the present 7.23 million to 8.47 million in 2041, at an annual growth rate of 0.6%. Such a slow growth is coupled with an aging population.

 

Persons aged 65 or above is expected to increase from the current 15.5% to 32% in the population by 2041. The “old-old” (aged 75 or above) will increase from the current 7.7% to 18.9% in 2041. The labour force will fall from the peak of 3.71 million in 2018 to 3.51 million in 2035 before reaching a stable condition.

 

“An ageing population will impose heavy burden on public finance as demand on healthcare and social services increases. On the other hand, insufficient labour will slow down economic growth,” a Government paper shows. Carrie Lam will explain a five-pronged strategy to the members to tackle the demographic problem:

  • To draw more women and mature persons into the labour market.
  • To create more diversified job opportunities with promising prospects for young people.
  • To attract more outside talent to work and settle in Hong Kong.
  • To foster a supportive environment for our people to form and raise families.
  • To build an age-friendly environment, promoting active ageing and tapping the valuable pool of elderly resources.