SHA's speaking notes tabled at LegCo Finance Committee special meeting

     Following is the English translation of the speaking notes of the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, tabled at the special meeting of the Legislative Council Finance Committee today (April 10):


     The Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) is responsible for quite a diversified policy portfolio covering a total of seven Heads of Expenditure. Our priority areas with additional resources provided in the new financial year are as follows:

Signature Projects Scheme

     To enhance district administration, the Administration has put forth the Signature Projects Scheme (SPS) and earmarked an allocation of $100 million for each District Council (DC) to implement one or two SPS projects. The Home Affairs Department (HAD) has sought funding approval for the projects from the Legislative Council to finance preliminary work of individual SPS projects. DCs may partner with relevant non-profit-making organisations, business organisations, statutory bodies or government departments to implement the SPS projects. DCs must monitor progress and evaluate the effectiveness of their SPS projects. The HAD will closely monitor the implementation of SPS projects.

Promotion of District Arts and Culture

     An additional sum of $20.8 million per annum will be injected into the Community Involvement Programmes starting from 2013-14. This would strengthen the support for District Councils (DCs) to promote arts and culture in the 18 districts. DCs may use the additional funding, with the assistance from the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), to provide better planning and support for arts and cultural activities at the district level. This will help arts and culture to further take root in local communities.

District Minor Works Programme

     The District Minor Works (DMW) Programme is one measure in district administration. By the end of January 2013, more than 3 200 DMW projects have been completed in the 18 districts. The DMW Programme has not only improved the local environment, it has also provided job opportunities. We proposed and the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council has approved an increase of funding for the DMW Programme from $320 million to $340 million in 2013-14. This additional $20 million will be used to pay consultancy and Resident Site Staff fees centrally. As a result, District Councils will have more resources at their disposal to carry out works projects.

Combating Unlicensed Guesthouses

     To ensure the safety of tourists and the public, the Office of the Licensing Authority (OLA) of the HAD has adopted a multi-pronged approach including strengthening law enforcement action, enhancing the deterrent effect and stepping up publicity to combat and raid unlicensed guesthouses. In 2012, the numbers of the OLA's inspections, prosecutions instituted and convicted cases increased remarkably, as compared with 2011. In 2013, the OLA will continue to spare no efforts to strengthen its enforcement action against unlicensed guesthouse activities, particularly those unlicensed guesthouses promoting their premises through the Internet. The OLA will also launch a new and extensive publicity programme to appeal to tourists to patronise licensed guesthouses.

Acquiring Artworks of Local Artists

     Regarding the promotion of arts development, the Government provides additional funding of $50 million in this year's Budget specifically for the LCSD to acquire outstanding artworks by local artists for display in public museums, and to commission them to create artworks for exhibition under public art schemes. I believe these will help raise the profile of local visual artists and provide opportunities for young and budding artists to showcase their talent and build an audience, thereby facilitating local arts development. To maintain flexibility, there is no time limit for the use of the funding. Regarding the acquisition of artworks for display in museums, the LCSD will consult the expert advisors beforehand. The number of commissioned artworks from artists will depend on the form and design of the artworks. So far we have not prescribed fixed amounts for the acquisition of artworks for display in museums and commissioning artists for creating artworks.

Training for Arts Administrators

     The Government is committed to the grooming of arts administrators. Currently the LCSD, the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) and the Arts Capacity Development Funding Scheme under the HAB also organise or subsidise a number of programmes to provide both local and overseas internship, training and further education opportunities. The Government plans to provide an additional funding of $150 million to strengthen the training of arts administrators at various levels of seniority over the next five years. We have sought the views of the Advisory Committee on Arts Development on this matter, and are formulating an overall plan in consultation with the relevant organisations.

Hong Kong Arts Development Council's Arts Space Project at Wong Chuk Hang

     We will explore more arts space for young artists and budding arts groups. We have allocated additional resources to the HKADC for converting units in an industrial building in Wong Chuk Hang into arts space. The converted units, which are expected to be ready in the second half of 2013, will be leased to arts workers as studios at a concessionary rent. The Government and the HKADC will continue to identify venues suitable for converting into arts space for the use of young artists and budding arts groups.

Artspace @ Oil Street

     In addition, the renovation and conversion of the former Clubhouse of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club at Oil Street in North Point into a visual arts exhibition and activity centre is close to completion, and some parts of the centre are expected to open by the end of May this year. This new art space will become a platform for boosting creativity among artists, and help nurture young arts talents and promote public arts, as well as encouraging public participation in artistic creations.

West Kowloon Cultural District

     The statutory planning process of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) Development Plan was completed in early January this year. The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority is embarking on design competitions for various arts and cultural facilities so that construction works can start as soon as possible. Among these, the winning design team for the architectural design of the Xiqu Centre, the first major arts and cultural facility in the WKCD, has been selected; the selection of a design consultant for the Park and the M+ design competition are under way. With the funding approval of the Finance Committee in January this year, the Government has commenced the design and site investigation of government infrastructure works for their completion in stages to tie in with the commissioning of the Phase 1 WKCD development. The West Kowloon Bamboo Theatre organised by the Authority during the Chinese New Year received an overwhelming response, achieving a record of over 100 000 participants. The Authority will continue to organise arts and cultural activities to build an audience, and to promote the WKCD project in the international arena.

Cultural Exchanges

     Regarding the promotion of cultural exchanges and co-operation, we will further strengthen international cultural co-operation and co-operation with places in the vicinity, particularly with the Mainland and Taiwan, as well as with other Asian countries. Among our major external cultural exchange programmes this year will be the 8th Asia Cultural Co-operation Forum, which offers a platform for cultural officials across Asia to exchange their views on policies and experiences in promoting cultural and arts development. Meanwhile, the "Hong Kong Week" will be held again in Taipei this year to promote cultural exchanges between Taipei and Hong Kong.

Sports Facilities

     To promote higher levels of sports participation in the community, we need to provide sufficient venues to allow people at all levels to have regular opportunities for practice, training and competition. We note that there is a shortage of public sports facilities, which we will strive to build more of. Since 2007 (till February 2013), we have completed new facilities and upgraded existing facilities at a cost of over $9 billion. Venue upgrading and new construction projects are currently under way, including the velodrome-cum-sports centre in Tseung Kwan O which is expected to be completed within this year. In 2013, we intend to seek the Legislative Council's funding support of more than $700 million for the construction of a sports centre in Area 4, Tsing Yi.

Multi-purpose Sports Complex at Kai Tak

     The Multi-purpose Sports Complex (MPSC) will alleviate Hong Kong's shortage of sports venues. In January 2013, we invited initial, non-binding expressions of interest from the private sector and other stakeholders with regard to the development of the MPSC at Kai Tak. We have received 42 submissions from different sectors, and will analyse the submissions and publish a report within this month. We shall commence the consultancy study to advise on detailed financial models for the procurement and financing of the MPSC shortly. It is our aim to confirm the MPSC's procurement and financing arrangements as soon as possible in preparation for the public tender process of the construction work.

     This concludes my presentation. My colleagues and I will be glad to answer questions from Members. Thank you.

Ends/Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:20