There will be no short of political crossfire in LegCo this week: Subdivided flat issue, Police’s handling of protests, filibustering and political reform. Police claims it has spent $350 million on OC.
May 4 Monday
Shortage of health care professionals
Subcommittee on Health Protection Scheme will meet and discuss the manpower projection for doctors, nurses and dentists. The Hospital Authority estimates that the shortage for doctor and nurse this year will be 360 and 150.
Some measures to address the shortage include recruiting doctors from overseas, re-employing locally retired doctors on contract terms and extending the retirement age of doctors from 60 to 65.
Demand for dentists is expected to “increase significantly in the coming years”, according to government papers. This is due to the implementation of dental programmes, such as the Outreach Dental Care Programme for the Elderly, the Community Care Fund Elderly Dental Assistance Programme and the Pilot Project on Dental Service for People with Intellectual Disability. Measures to tackle the rising demand of dental services include increasing the annual intake of dental students for three years beginning from 2016 and increasing the licensing examination for overseas-trained dentists to two sittings a year instead of one. Currently, 2,343 dentists are registered in Hong Kong.
May 5 Tuesday
Paul Chan takes beatings on subdivided flat issue
Secretary for Development Paul Chan and Mr Hui Siu-wai, Director of Buildings, will attend a public hearing of the Public Accounts Committee to testify on the latest comptroller’s report about “Buildings Department’s actions on unauthorized building works”. Members are expected to criticise the Department’s recent action to clear a subdivided flat in Tsuen Wan.
Building Department has 732 staff focusing on unauthorised building works and building safety/maintenance work. A total of 405,261 unauthorised building works had been removed from 2001 to 2010 and 69,298 from 2011 to 2014.
Director of Audit’s report criticised the Department for the “long time taken in issuing removal orders on actionable unauthorised building works.” The Audit examination revealed that, as of October 2014, Building Department had not issued removal orders concerning 4,522 public reports where official inspections had been conducted for more than six months to five years.
The report also blasted the “significant slippages in completing large scale operations on subdivided flats.” From 2011 to 2014, the Department had conducted 7 large scale operations on subdivided flats, covering a total of 1,092 target buildings. Of the 7 operations, 5 were conducted by the Department in-house officers and 2 by engaging 10 consultancies at a total cost of $12.4 million.
Drug problem improved in Hong Kong
Panel on Security today will review the drug situation last year. Government papers show a continued decline in the number of reported drug abusers in 2014 (8,926), 13% lower than that of 2013 (10,241). The number of reported young drug abusers aged under 21 recorded a substantial decline by 35% (from 1,223 to 800). Newly reported drug abusers (2,008) was 23% lower than that of 2013 (2,623). However, drug history of newly reported cases had continued to rise. Half of the newly reported abusers had abused drugs for 5.2 years or more, compared with 4.7 years in 2013.
Police: $350 million was spent on OC
Panel on Security will also discuss the Police’s handling of public meetings and public processions. By the end of the Occupy Movement, 955 were arrested and another 48 in following months.
“Major items of Police’s expenditure in handling the illegal ‘Occupy Movement’ included the disciplined services overtime allowance, provision of meals and hire of vehicles for transporting police officers etc, which amounted to about $350 million in total,” government papers show.
Next Generation Electronic Passport System
The Government is seeking approval from the Finance Committee to implement the Next Generation Smart Identity Card System at a cost of $1.45 billion. It is considering to implement a new e-Passport system which will cost $357.83 million over five financial years from 2016-17 to 2020-21. Panel on Security will discuss the proposal.
Immigration Department points out that the current e-Passport system has been used for almost ten years and a consultant commissioned by the Department has recommended it to “revamp its information technology infrastructure to upkeep service quality and enhance handling capacity to cope with the substantially growing service demands.”
May 6 Wednesday
Filibustering at the Public Works Subcommittee
Third meeting to discuss 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.
Albert Chan (GC- NT West, People Power) considered the entire Kai Tak planning a “disaster”. He said the proposed Sports Complex were not welcomed by the sports community and if the Government wants to develop the sports industry, it should build a ‘sports city’, rather than the Sports Complex which will likely be used for commercial purposes.
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.
The Council will continue to discuss the 618 amendments on the Appropriation Bill. Last Thursday, members talked about the policies for poverty alleviation and elderly care, and they will carry on this Wednesday.
May 7 Thursday
Subcommittee meets to discuss the reform package
Subcommittee on Proposals on the Method for Selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 will meet with the Three Musketeers of the Government: Carrie Lam, Rimsky Yuen and Raymond Tam. DAB’s former party leader Tam Yiu-chung and pro-establishment Paul Tse were elected as the committee’s chairman and vice-chairman last week.
May 8 Friday
Technical change to 2016 LegCo election
Bills Committee on Electoral Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2015 will meet today to discuss the technical amendments concerning the electorate of the FCs, the name of some FCs, counting procedures and textual errors for the 2016 LegCo election.
Finance Committee to approve $2 billion funding proposals
Items to approve this week:
- A combined $661 million funding proposal for 2 construction projects: Public Transport Interchange at Kiu Cheong Road East in Ping Shan and a refuse collection point at Fuk Wa Street/Fuk Wing Street/Camp Street site in Sham Shui Po.
- $37,880,000 for developing a computer system for the Fire Services Department.
- $1,448,786,000 for implementing the Next Generation Smart Identity Card System.