Pan-dems have successfully adjourned some funding proposals in the PWSC and the Establishment Subcommittee this week but the Government can still put them back in the Finance Committee directly.
June 8 Monday
Meeting of Panel on Welfare Services
Members discussed the inspection and licensing system for monitoring residential care homes for the elderly (RCHEs). This followed the incident at an elderly care home in Tai Po where it was found old people were left in the open naked while waiting to be showered. The license of that Tai Po’s elderly care home was revoked subsequently.
By the end of March 2015, there were 737 RCHEs in Hong Kong, including 127 subvented RCHEs, 24 contract RCHEs, 39 self-financing RCHEs and 547 private RCHEs. These RCHEs provide a total of 73,782 places, serving about 61,200 elderly persons.
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung said the Bureau will step up in inspection and will consider to set up a ‘demerit point system’.
Labour Party lawmaker Fernando Cheung (GC- NT East) moved a motion to urge the Bureau to review the regulations concerning elderly care home immediately as the regulations have remained largely unchanged for 20 years. The motion was approved.
June 9 Tuesday
Meeting of Public Works Subcommittee
- Discussion continued on the proposal to increase the project estimate of the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macao Bridge Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities construction project by $5,461.1 million from $30,433.9 million to $35,895.0 million.
Michael Tien (GC- NT West, NPP) criticised the project has exceeded the budget too much with the overspend now stands at around $15 billion. Ip Kwok-him (FC- DC 1st, DAB) blamed it to people filing for judicial review while Albert Chan (GC- NT West, People Power) held the Government responsible for the overspend.
Kwok Ka-ki (GC- NT West, Civic Party) moved a motion to adjourn the discussion and was approved with 21 to 15.
- $52.6 million for the design and site investigation works for the proposed government data centre complex at King Lam Street in Cheung Sha Wan. Proposal was approved.
- $89.4 million for carrying out a study on further enhancing the quality of coastal waters of Victoria Harbour. Proposal was approved.
- $154.5 million for the first stage design and construction of the desalination plant in Tseung Kwan O.
Dennis Kwok (FC- Legal, Civic Party) expressed his support to the desalination plant, saying Hong Kong should not rely on the Dongjiang water in the long run. However, he questioned the production of the plant is set too low.
Director of Water Supplies Enoch Lam said the water cost per cubic metre of the desalination plant is $4 more than the cost to import from Donjiang and replying to Dennis Kwok’s question, Mr Lam said that the desalination plant will expand in the future and construction is scheduled to begin in 2017. The proposal was approved.
Meeting of Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene
- Discuss on the implementation of the Nutrition Labelling Scheme which came into effect in 2010. Up to 15 May 2015, Centre for Food Safety has checked the nutrition labels of 35,821 prepackaged retail outlets. The overall compliance rate of the Scheme is 98.68%.
- Government released the consultation result on the new agricultural policy. Deputations also joined the discussion. By the end of consultation on 31 March 2015, the Government has received more than 1,100 written submissions and claimed that “In overall terms, there has been wide support from the public for the new agricultural policy including its general directions, as well as the various supportive measures that we have put forward for discussion. Many consider that the sustainable development of agriculture would contribute to meeting consumers’ aspiration and demand for good quality food with high safety standard as well as preserving the rural environment, amongst other benefits.”
June 10 Wednesday
Meeting of Establishment Subcommittee
- Proposal to extend the position of a Chief Engineer in the Railway Development Office of Highways Department to continue monitoring the completion of the Hong Kong section of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link project of the MTR.
Pan-dems once again lambasted the Government for failing to monitor MTR, causing the serious delay in the completion of the construction project. Longhair Leung Kwok-hung (GC- NT East, LSD) moved a motion to adjourn the discussion and was approved despite Under Secretary for Transport and Housing Yau Shing-mu tried to convince members that the Chief Engineer is a key personnel in the Office to supervise MTR.
- Proposal to hire a Chief Architect to provide directorate support to the Development and Construction Division of the Housing Department to cope with the additional workload arising from the public housing production target. Proposal was approved.
On behalf of the Committee on Members’ Interests, Ip Kwok-him announced the report on the complaints against Civic Party lawmakers Alan Leong, Claudia Mo and Democratic Party lawmaker James To. Last year, LegCo received 15 complaints against the three as a local press claimed they have received donations from the founder of Apple Daily Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, ranging from $300,000 to $1.5 million over the past two years.
The Committee on Members’ Interests held seven meetings and decided to drop the case on Alan Leong and Claudia Mo. And for James To’s case, members in the Committee held divergent views and therefore no further action will be proceeded for the case.
Selected oral questions
Martin Liao (FC- Commercial 2nd)
Q: Will the authorities request the Competition Commission to formulate measures to regulate petrol pump prices?
Christine Loh, Acting Secretary for the Environment
A: “In a free market economy, the operating costs data are commercially sensitive information. The Government does not have the power to ask commercially operating companies to disclose such information…We will collaborate with the Competition Commission on their study on the oil companies as appropriate.”
- Tony Tse (FC- Architectural, Surveying and Planning) moved a motion to urge the Government to step up regulation on the repair and maintenance works of private buildings. Harbour Times has previously reported that there was a big budget cut in the Development Bureau for building safety this year. Read here.
Amendments to the motion by Kwok Wai-keung, Chan Hak-kan, Ronny Tong, Wu Chi-wai and Lee Cheuk-yan were all approved. Tse’s motion was approved without a member objecting it.
- Ng Leung-sing (FC- Finance) moved a motion to urge the Government to enhance the competitiveness of Hong Kong as an international financial centre and expedite the promotion of Hong Kong’s development into a financial technology hub. Martin Liao called for the Government to grasp the new opportunities that will arise from the ‘One Belt One Road’ development. Debate underway.
June 11 Thursday
Continuation of Council meeting
Debate continued on Ng Leung-sing’s motion. Paul Tse (GC- Kowloon East) made amendments to Ng’s motion and listed out specific strategies the Government should undertake:
- to discuss with the Central Government to set up the headquarters of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Hong Kong;
- to prompt AIIB to issue Renminbi bonds in Hong Kong;
- to study with the Central Government the extension of policies for promoting mutual access between the financial markets in the Mainland and Hong Kong so as to establish multi-dimensional linkage with the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited, broaden the ‘financial spectrum’ of Hong Kong as a financial centre, promote the internationalization of Renminbi and consolidate Hong Kong’s position as an offshore centre for Renminbi, thereby achieving a win-win situation for Hong Kong and the Mainland.
Ng’s motion was approved together with amendments from Martin Liao, Charles Mok, Sin Chung-kai and Paul Tse.