LegCo Round Up March 6th

New regimes for the financial market and the Government adopted a new principle to strengthen the hawker industry.

 

March 2nd Monday

 

Meeting of Panel on Financial Affairs
1. Members approved to form a joint subcommittee under the Panel on Manpower and Panel on Financial Affairs to study the arrangement of offsetting severance payments and long service payments.

2. Discussion on the second round consultation to establish an effective resolution regime for financial institutions in Hong Kong. The idea is to form a cross-sector resolution regime for non-viable “too-big-to-fail” financial institutions in order to enhance the resilience of the local financial sector and meet new international standards as set by the Financial Stability Board. The consultation will end on April 20th.

3. Discussion on the consultation on introducing an automatic mechanism for adjustment of minimum and maximum levels of relevant income. The consultation has ended this Thursday and the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority was flooded with more than 25,000 submissions. It was proposed to determine the Min and Max RI Levels at the same time once every two years following certain benchmarks.

 

Meeting of Subcommittee on Hawker Policy
Discussion on the principles for formulation of hawker policy and proposed measures, including the possibility to develop district-led local bazaars. The Government announced that they will seek to develop the local hawker industry rather than to regulate it and has looked at the practices in Singapore, Taipei City, Melbourne and Bangkok. However, Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said that views on hawker policy were polarised and therefore it was challenging for the Government to formulate a set of hawker policies that will satisfy both sides. As at end-January 2015, the total number of licensed hawkers was about 6,300, compared with about 20,000 in the late 1980s.

 

Meeting of Panel on Housing
1. Review on Special Stamp Duty (SSD) and Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD). Government data shows that since the SSD was implemented in November 2010, a total of 3,885 residential property transactions were involved with SSD and the tax revenue was recorded to be around $771 million. For BSD, since its implementation in October 2012, a total of 6,077 residential property transactions were subject to it and the tax revenue was recorded to be around $10.5 billion. Secretary for Transport and Housing Prof Anthony Cheung said that the stamp duties will linger in the short term lest the housing market be destabilised. He also said that the Government will thrust out new measures if the property price goes too high in the future.

2. Discussion on the proposed increase on the income and asset limits of public rental housing for 2015/16 by an average of 5.8% and 7.0% respectively. Housing Authority’s Subsidised Housing Committee will discuss the increase at their meeting on March 17th.

3. Proposal to create one permanent Chief Architect post in the Housing Department to cope with the additional workload arising from the further increase in public housing production target as pledged in the 2014 Policy Address and promulgated in the Long Term Housing Strategy 2014. Members approved to send the proposal to the Establishment Subcommittee.

 

Meeting of Bills Committee on Clearing and Settlement Systems (Amendment) Bill 2015
The bill is to establish a regulatory regime for stored value facilities and retail payment systems. Andrew Leung (FC- Industrial 1st, BPA) was elected as Chairman. Hong Kong Monetary Authority said that so far, those companies they have met with welcomed to the regulatory regime which they believed it will benefit their operations. Discussion underway.

 

 

March 3rd Tuesday

 

Meeting of Bills Committee on Insurance Companies (Amendment) Bill 2014
13th meeting to discuss the establishment of the Independent Insurance Authority and licensing regime. Discussion underway.

 

Meeting of Panel on Security
1. Proposal to increase the upper age of Category B security personnel permit from 65 to 70. Category B permit is for general guarding work not requiring the carrying of arms and ammunition for all sorts of premises which does not fall within Category A.

2. Proposal to construct staff quarters for the Immigration Department at Heng Lam Street, Kowloon at the cost of $391 million. Members approved to send the proposal to the Public Works Subcommittee.

3. Proposal to create a permanent post of Deputy Chief Fire Officer in the Headquarters Command for implementing quality assurance and training accreditation mechanisms. Members approved to send the proposal to the Establishment Subcommittee.

4. Following the discussion of the next generation Smart Identity Card System early this year, the issue is back to the Panel on Security again. The Immigration Department has submitted the First Privacy Impact Assessment Report to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data and was awaiting feedbacks. The Government presented members a list of OECD nations where it is mandatory for the citizens to carry ID documents. Yiu Si-wing (FC- Tourism) agreed that ID card is necessary for security measures. Mr Yiu and several pro-establishment members urged those members who worried about the privacy leak concerning the proposed new ID card to trust the Government who has claimed to adopt the most stringent technology.