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Government's response to July 1 procession

    In response to the procession today (July 1), a Government spokesman said that the SAR Government fully respected people's rights to take part in the procession and their freedom of expression.

    "Following the Decision made by the National People's Congress Standing Committee last December, the third-term HKSAR Government (SARG) has made substantive progress in rolling forward democracy by attaining the timetable for implementing universal suffrage for the Chief Executive (CE) in 2017 and for the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2020," the spokesman said.

    "Between 2008 and 2012, we should endeavour to roll forward Hong Kong's electoral methods to a mid-way point. The task group on constitutional development under the Commission on Strategic Development has just concluded discussions on the two electoral methods for 2012. The SARG will decide, in the fourth quarter of this year, when to consult the public on the CE and LegCo electoral methods for 2012. The public consultation will be undertaken as soon as possible.

    "As regards the political appointment system, like other government leaders in free and open societies, the CE needs to have a political team to help implement his election manifesto.

    "All the Under Secretaries and Political Assistants have been appointed in accordance with the approval given by LegCo in December 2007. On the part of the Government, we have explained to the public the appointment process, the appointment criteria, and the criteria for determining remuneration for each appointee. The Government has set out the information in writing to the LegCo Panel on Constitutional Affairs.

    "All contractual remuneration packages offered are also consistent with that approved by the Finance Committee of the LegCo in December 2007.

    "A series of measures would be taken when appointing Under Secretaries and Political Assistants in future. These include, when announcing the appointments, making public their personal remuneration and, subject to their consent, whether they have the right of abode in any foreign country; considering offering starting salaries below the mid-point of the respective scales for any newly-appointed Under Secretary or Political Assistant who has less working experience than those already recruited; and arranging for the appointees to meet with the media, so that the public will have the opportunity to know them better," the spokesman added.

    Noting that the procession has raised various other livelihood-related demands, the spokesman said, "We are deeply concerned about the impact of the recent rise in inflation on various segments of the community, especially on the livelihoods of lower income households. The short-term outlook for inflation is still subject to the influences of a number of factors such as movements in global crude oil and food prices, as well as the rising flat rentals in the local economy. But as many of the relief measures announced in the 2008-09 Budget will be put in place in the months ahead, they should help to alleviate the inflationary pressure on households in the latter part of this year.

    "The Government is now studying ways to further address these concerns. We hope to have them unveiled in the coming Policy Address in October."

Ends/Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Issued at HKT 17:15


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