The following is the transcript of the media session (English portion) by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, after attending the Legislative Council meeting today (October 10):
Mr Tsang: The Chief Executive has made a very comprehensive review of the present political, economic and social situation of Hong Kong. He has made a whole series of recommendations. These are pragmatic recommendations and they are far reaching.
The Chief Executive understands quite clearly that various sectors of the community are being affected by the adverse effects of the downturn of the economic cycle. For that reason he has introduced a whole series of measures to improve the economy.
These will include, for instance, the establishment of the Logistic Council; promote tourism from the Mainland as well as more businessmen coming to Hong Kong from the Mainland. He has also accelerated the infrastructure programme, and in the process will create 30,000. All this will increase the economic activities in Hong Kong; it will then solidify and then strengthen our economic foundation, as well as creating more job opportunities. This, no doubt, will benefit everyone in the community.
Set against the present deficit position, the Chief Executive has made recommendations on a number of fiscal concessions, including a rate reduction measure, as well as a tax concession for those people who are servicing mortgages for their own homes.
One of the key aspects of the Chief Executive's address relates to the governance of Hong Kong - the accountability system - on which he has made a number of recommendations. I believe his recommendations would benefit the whole community. It will hold the administration accountable more to the public at large.
The principal officials appointed under the system will not be civil servants. Their appointment system will be more flexible, their term of office will be, at most, as long as that of the Chief Executive who appoints them. There will be far more focus in policy formulation. Their policies will adhere more to the wishes of the people and I am sure it will make him even more accountable to what he does. And at the same time the principal officials appointed under the new system will be members of the Executive Council. They will participate directly in the formulation of such policies, procurement of resources for the implementation and making sure it is set in the right priority.
He will also receive the assistance of the Directorate Grade D-8 officials who will be permanent secretaries. These people will then, in future, not carry out a political function, they will devote (their) full time to analytical work to help the principal officials. And I am sure, in that process, the government will be able to respond more rapidly to the community's wishes, it will more efficiently govern Hong Kong, and at the same time the policy it formulates will adhere more closely to the wishes of the people.
The recommendations would also help preserve the present integrity of the civil service system; will make it more stable, make sure it will be politically neutral, ensure it continues to be absolutely clean and not corrupt, and it will maintain very high efficiency.
And at the same time, under the leadership of the principal officials appointed under the new accountability system, what they are going to do would likely be more service oriented and more to make sure that they would be serving the public at large. All these, I am sure, will formulate a much better arrangement for governing Hong Kong.
The Chief Executive intends to complete the preparatory work before June 30th next year. This will enable the new second term Chief Executive to implement it in the way he wishes.
I think that is all I want to say at this stage.
(Please also refer to the Chinese transcript)
End/Wednesday, October 10, 2001