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Funding allocation for internal security and immigration control to increase

    The Government will continue to use resources cost-effectively to introduce new or enhanced services in the policy areas of internal security and immigration control to ensure that Hong Kong remains a secure and safe city, the Secretary for Security, Mr Ambrose S K Lee, said today (March 15).

     Speaking at a special meeting of the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council, Mr Lee said the two policy areas would account for $23.2 billion in the financial year 2006/2007, which was 2.1 per cent higher than the allocation of $22.7 billion for the current financial year.

     Highlighting some of the new and enhanced services, Mr Lee said the Police had identified a number of major operational targets including combating violent crimes, triad-related cases, "quick-cash" crimes, terrorism, trafficking and abuse of dangerous drugs, and offences related to visitors, tourists and illegal immigrants.

     He noted a pleasing result that the overall crime figure in 2005 recorded a decline of 4.8 per cent, adding that the Police would as always remain vigilant in maintaining law and order.

     On immigration control and customs services, he said the Government would continue to improve these services through the use of technology including the expansion of automated passenger and vehicle clearance systems in phases; and proposed legislative amendments to enable the public to submit certain immigration-related applications electronically.

     The Government has also earmarked some $281 million involving 1,457 posts for the departments concerned to meet increases in cross-boundary traffic and to cater for the opening of new control points for the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Corridor, Lok Ma Chau Spur Line and SkyPlaza.

     To meet public demand for more diversified services, the first batch of civil celebrants of marriages is expected to be appointed by May this year.

     The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme will be introduced by June this year to attract topnotch talent to come to Hong Kong for long-term development. Under the scheme, an initial annual quota of 1000 will be set and successful applicants are not required to obtain a prior job offer in Hong Kong before they are granted entry into Hong Kong.

     Mr Lee said biometric Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) passports would be introduced in early 2007 to safeguard and promote travel convenience enjoyed by HKSAR passport holders.  

     Turning to public safety, Mr Lee said the Administration was looking into possible options for better meeting the increasing demands for emergency ambulance service in recent years.

     The modes of service delivery are under review to ensure the better use of resources, including the study of the feasibility of adopting a medical priority dispatch system.

     Mr Lee stressed that the Administration would continue to review the  resources for emergency ambulance service such as the commissioning of a new ambulance depot at Kowloon Tong, and open recruitment of 97 ambulance staff in 2006/2007.

     In addition, a sum of $31 million has been earmarked for the procurement and replacement of fire appliances, ambulances and equipment to enhance fire-fighting and rescue capabilities, and 207 fire services staff will be openly recruited in 2006/2007.

     On the custody and rehabilitation of offenders, funding approval will be sought later this year to redevelop the Lo Wu Correctional Institution in order to address the problems of over-crowding and outdated facilities in penal institutions.

     The Correctional Services Department (CSD) will continue to work in partnership with various sectors of the community to help rehabilitated offenders re-integrate into society. The Department will also implement an integrated procedure to improve the overall management and rehabilitation of offenders.

     On drug treatment and rehabilitation, Mr Lee noted that the Government would roll out the Fourth Three-year Plan on Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Services in Hong Kong (2006-2008), and continue to monitor the progress of the licensing scheme for drug treatment centres.

     Measures will also be developed to strengthen the community primary health care support for drug treatment and rehabilitation services and to facilitate rehabilitated persons to re-integrate into society.

     To combat money laundering and terrorist financing, he said the Government would continue its preparatory work to put in place the revised Recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force to meet the latest international standards.

Ends/Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Issued at HKT 13:21