Daily Information Bulletin
Issued by Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government Information Services
Garden Road, 5th-8th Floors, Murray Building, Hong Kong. Tel: 2842 8777

Monday, March 30, 1998 CONTENTS ======== 1. Chief Secretary for Administration's media session 2. Misconceptions on law adaptation exercise clarified 3. Co-operation joint conference inaugural meeting 4. Consultancy study on sustainable development 5. Role of Independent Police Complaints Council essential 6. Housing-related issues top concern in March 7. Project to improve water supply to Hong Kong 8. Campaign to crack down pornographic materials 9. Poll cards sent to voters 10. Preliminary estimates of HK's GNP for 1996 11. Appointment of new-term membership of HKCPEC 12. NLB new fares to take effect from April 13. 'Speedy News' on Internet 14. Construction output for the 4th quarter & whole year of 1997 15. New operator for Central-Pak Kok Tsuen ferry service 16. Holistic review of mathematics curriculum 17. Water storage figure 1. Chief Secretary for Administration's media session ************************************************** Following is a transcript of the question-and-answer session by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Anson Chan, after the first meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou today (Monday): Mrs Chan: We are delighted to be able to come today for the first meeting of the Guangdong/Hong Kong Joint Co- operation Committee. As you know, we have established this committee in order to strengthen communication and links between Guangdong and Hong Kong. Already, our economic links are very very close and because of these links, there is a host of problems particularly as regard people coming backward and forward, vehicles and also goods travelling between the two places. We wish to see in what way we can better co-ordinate and facilitate the movement of people and goods. We had an extremely useful discussion this afternoon on a range of problems. We've heard an introduction of Guangdong particularly Shenzhen's long-term development proposals and we would of course be reflecting on what we heard this afternoon. We've also agreed that this committee will meet twice a year but because the time allowed for this particular meeting was rather short, we both felt that the next meeting we need not wait for another six months. So, it is very likely that the next meeting will be held in Hong Kong and will be shorter than six months. But this will depend on further discussions between Mr Michael Suen and his counterpart and we would of course when arrangements have been made, we would make a separate announcement. Thank you. Reporter: ... (on the relationship between the Infrastructure Co-ordinating Committee and the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference) Mrs Chan: I was saying just now that as you all know, we have a number of channels for communication and co- operation between Guangdong and Hong Kong. For example, as you know, we have the ICC that is responsible for looking at cross-border big infrastructural project. We both agreed that these channels have proven their worth, they are very effective and we intend to maintain these links. There is in our view no need to abolish these links and to subsume everything under this joint co- operation committee. But of course in respect of new infrastructural, cross-border infrastructural project, in addition to those that are currently the responsibility of ICC, then we would of course consider what is the best forum of discussing these. We would also be giving thought to the need for maybe setting up specific working groups under the main umbrella of the co-operation committee but this we still have to examine in further detail. Thank you. End 2. Misconceptions on law adaptation exercise clarified *************************************************** A government spokesman today (Monday) clarified a number of misconceptions that have arisen from recent press reports and comments in respect of Section 66 of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1). As the Administration made clear when introducing the Adaptation of Laws (Interpretative Provisions) Bill into the Provisional Legislative Council, the Bill contains adaptation provisions relating to the binding effect of Ordinances. In her speech to move the second reading of the Bill, the Secretary for Justice explained that the previous presumption in Cap. 1 that, in the absence of express words or necessary implication, Ordinances do not bind 'the Crown' is to be adapted by replacing 'the Crown' by 'the State'. The latter term is narrowly defined so that it corresponds to the meaning of 'the Crown'. "The effect is to reflect the reunification, but otherwise to maintain the legal position as it was immediately before, and after, the reunification," she said. Commenting on the misconceptions that have arisen, the spokesman pointed out that: * The purpose of the Bill is limited to adaptation of Cap. 1. Since July 1, 1997, the reference to "the Crown" in Section 66 of Cap. 1 should be interpreted as referring to organs of the People's Republic of China that correspond to the organs that were part of "the Crown". * The adaptation of section 66 of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1) does not place some central government agencies "above the law". It merely reflects the fact that if some Ordinances are intended to bind the sovereign power, they should expressly say so. This principle applies in almost all common law jurisdictions. Hong Kong continues to be a common law jurisdiction after the reunification. * It is not a violation of Article 22 of the Basic Law to provide that certain organs are not subject to an Ordinance unless the Ordinance states otherwise. Offices set up in the HKSAR must abide by the laws of the HKSAR. These laws include Section 66 of Cap. 1. * There is no "major threat to the rule of law" by adapting a principle that previously applied to the Crown so that it applies to the new sovereign power. The rule of law was not breached by this principle before the reunification. * The Bill does not establish the principle that "laws would not apply to mainland bodies in Hong Kong unless specified". The Bill merely adapts relevant provisions to reflect the established principle that, if it is intended that certain executive organs of the sovereign power are to be subject to a particular Ordinance when they exercise their executive functions, the Ordinance must expressly say so. Position before the reunification The spokesman explained that before the reunification, section 66 of Cap. 1 provided that - "No Ordinance shall in any manner whatsoever affect the right of or be binding on the Crown unless it is therein expressly provided or unless it appears by necessary implication that the Crown is bound thereby." The reference to the Crown in that section means, in effect, the UK and Hong Kong Governments acting in an executive capacity. Departments of the British Government and the British armed forces were part of the Crown. "The effect of section 66 of Cap. 1 before the reunification was that, if legislation was intended to bind the Crown, it needed expressly to say so. In some cases, for example the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance, Ordinances were expressed to bind the Government, that is the Hong Kong Government, but did not contain any provisions relating to their binding effect on other parts of the Crown," he said. Need for adaptation After the reunification, it is necessary to adapt Hong Kong Ordinances to ensure their conformity with the Basic Law and with the status of Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of the PRC. It is clearly necessary to adapt the reference to the "Crown" in section 66 of Cap. 1. In doing this, the Administration is proposing to substitute the word "State", which is defined in a way that corresponds to what was previously covered by "the Crown", the spokesman explained. Definition of "State" He noted that after discussion with the Bills Committee, the Administration proposes to make drafting amendments to the definition of "State". As amended, "State" will include only - * the President of the PRC * the Central People's Government * the Government of the Hong Kong SAR * the Central Authorities of the PRC that exercise functions for which the Central People's Government has responsibility under the Basic Law * certain subordinate organs of the Central People's Government or those Central Authorities. On the last point, a subordinate organ of the Central People's Government or of relevant Central Authorities is only within the definition if it satisfies three tests - * it carries out executive functions of the CPG, or functions for which the CPG has responsibility under the Basic Law * it does not exercise commercial functions * it is acting within the scope of the authority and functions delegated to it by the Central People's Government or the relevant Central Authority. The spokesman said it is considered that the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC in the HKSAR, the Office of the Chinese Senior Representative of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group, the Xinhua News Agency (Hong Kong Branch) and the Garrison satisfy the first two tests. However, whether in any particular situation they also satisfy the third test will depend on the facts of the case. Mainland bodies that have commercial functions, or that are not subordinate to the CPG or the relevant Central Authorities, will not be within the definition of "State", he added. Effect of the adaptation The spokesman pointed out that since July 1, 1997, the reference to the "Crown" in section 66 of Cap. 1 should be interpreted as referring to organs of the People's Republic of China that correspond to the organs that were part of the "Crown". Since the Bill now before the Provisional Legislative Council will do no more than make this clear, it is considered that the Bill does not change the current law, but merely clarifies it. The effect of the Bill is to maintain the status quo in respect of the binding effect of Ordinances and makes adaptations to reflect the reunification. The Bill adapts Ordinances with provisions relating to their binding effect on "the Crown" and does not expressly adapt Ordinances with provisions which are expressed as binding on "the Government." "If an Ordinance provides that it binds the "Crown", the effect of the reunification (and of the Bill) is that the Ordinance now binds relevant PRC organs. If, however, an Ordinance provides that it binds "the Government", and therefore did not previously bind other parts of the "Crown", it has since reunification been binding on the Government of the HKSAR, but not other organs of the "State". This is considered to be the situation in respect of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance," he said. The spokesman pointed out that the definition of "State" is only referred to in the Bill in relation to the binding effect of Ordinances. "If anyone has views about specific Ordinances, the HKSARG is prepared to listen and consider them. However, for the time being, we are focusing on adaptation of individual ordinances and not law reform," he said. He emphasised that the Administration remains firmly committed to the rule of law, the Basic Law, and the principle of "one country, two systems". End 3. Co-operation joint conference inaugural meeting *********************************************** Representatives of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and Guangdong Province today (Monday) held the inaugural meeting of the Hong Kong/Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou. The HKSAR and Guangdong delegations were led by HKSAR's Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Anson Chan, and the Vice-Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Wang Qishan respectively. The Deputy Director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office (HKMAO), Mr Chen Zuo'er, also attended the meeting. HKSAR Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa; the Governor of Guangdong Province, Mr Lu Ruihua; and HKMAO Director, Mr Liao Hui, officiated at the inaugural ceremony for the joint conference before the meeting began. The two sides reviewed the existing channels for co- operation at the meeting and agreed that these channels had been effective and should continue. They also talked about possible topics for discussions by the joint conference in future. These include cross-boundary passenger and cargo traffic, and cross-boundary infrastructure projects. At the meeting, the Guangdong representatives outlined the future development strategies of Guangdong Province. The HKSAR delegation introduced the Territorial Development Strategy Review final recommendations announced last Thursday (March 26). The meeting affirmed the role of the joint conference in furthering the communication and co-operation between the HKSAR and Guangdong Province. The joint conference will hold its next meeting in Hong Kong at a date to be fixed. End 4. Consultancy study on sustainable development ******************************************** The Planning Department has commissioned a consultancy study to develop a decision-making framework for sustainable development in Hong Kong which aims to balance the economic, social and environmental needs of the community. Announcing details of the Study on Sustainable Development for the 21st Century (SUSDEV21) at a press conference today (Monday), the Director of Planning, Dr Peter Pun, said: "If Hong Kong is to continue to thrive in the next century, we need to maintain our environmental quality at an acceptable level and safeguard the integrity of our natural resource base and cultural heritage while at the same time continuing to meet development pressure arising from growing social and economic needs. "Hong Kong has been continuously subject to tremendous development pressure generated internally by its population growth and rising aspirations to better quality of life and externally by the economic takeoff of its hinterland. "The Territorial Development Strategy Review has highlighted concerns for the long-term sustainability of our development path. "SUSDEV21 will address these concerns. Its main objective is to identify measures to help improve decision-making in the Government to integrate the social, economic and environmental goals of the community. "In plotting our development path, we should follow the main principle that all human beings are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature. "The right to development must be fulfilled in such a way as to equitably meet the development and environmental needs of the present and future generations. "Our study, which is scheduled for completion by the end of next year, will develop guiding values, sustainability indicators and criteria covering the economic, social and environmental aspects to provide a basis for measuring our performance on sustainability," Dr Pun added. While the study area was mainly confined to Hong Kong, he said the consultants had to examine developments in the wider Pearl River Delta Region, particularly in respect of socio-economic and infrastructure developments and cross-boundary environmental issues. They also had to assess the likely impacts these developments would have on Hong Kong's sustainable development. "Views of the community will be collected at various stages to help ensure that appropriate values and indicators are built into the new decision-making system to form the basis for adjustments, if necessary, in inter- related policies, plans and programmes," Dr Pun said. "To achieve this, we will launch an extensive public awareness and consultation programme on April 2 to enhance the community's understanding of the issue," he added. Exhibitions will be staged at Pacific Place in Queensway (April 2 to 5), New Town Plaza in Sha Tin (April 17 to 23), Tuen Mun Town Plaza (April 27 to May 3), Metroplaza in Kwai Fong (May 4 to 10) and Lok Fu Shopping Centre (May 17 to 22). "Consultation meetings will be organised for various statutory institutions and advisory committees, professional institutes, societies, academic institutions, environmental and public organisations," Dr Pun said, adding that views from the public could also be relayed to the Planning Department in writing or via the Internet http://www.info.gov.hk/planning. An Information Digest is available free at these exhibitions, District Offices and Planning Department's homepage. "Public involvement is an important part of this consultancy study. We do hope that these activities will encourage the public to learn more about sustainability issues and express their views," Dr Pun said. End 5. Role of Independent Police Complaints Council essential ******************************************************* In order to build up the community's trust in the Police, there must be a police complaints system which is credible, transparent and effective, and above all there should be an independent body to monitor and review the investigation of complaints, the Secretary for Security, Mr Peter Lai, stressed today (Monday). Mr Lai was speaking at the opening ceremony of the new Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) Secretariat Office in First Pacific Bank Centre, Wan Chai. Other officiating guests were the Chairman of the IPCC, Mr Denis Chang, and the Chief Justice, Mr Andrew Li. "A comparative study of overseas Police complaints systems conducted by the IPCC, Police and the then Security Branch in 1996 has shown that our system is not out of step with other overseas police jurisdictions," Mr Lai said. "We are one of the few Asian territories where complaints against Police are subject to the oversight of a civilian body - the IPCC," he noted. Mr Lai went on to explain that the results of investigations into complaints against Police officers were subject to the vigorous scrutiny by the IPCC before they were endorsed. He pointed out that IPCC members could conduct scheduled or surprise visits to observe investigations by the Complaints Against Police Office (CAPO) directly and were at liberty to interview witnesses. "If the IPCC is not satisfied with the results of investigation, they can ask CAPO to clarify areas of doubt or even request them to reinvestigate the complaint. If the IPCC is still not satisfied, it can draw the case to the attention of the Chief Executive with its own recommendations," Mr Lai added. "We have spared no efforts in enhancing the system in every way," Mr Lai emphasised. "In recent years, we have implemented a series of 41 improvement measures arising from the IPCC's own review of the investigation procedures of CAPO and the comparative study of Police complaints systems in other jurisdictions," he said. Setting up a special IPCC panel to monitor serious cases, and enabling the Council to submit its findings in a special report to the Chief Executive and setting time limits for CAPO in handling complaints were quoted as examples of improvements to the existing system. On measures in the pipeline, Mr Lai disclosed that the IPCC was drawing up a plan to expand the existing IPCC Observer Scheme by co-opting retired IPCC members and other community leaders to conduct visits under the Scheme. Moreover, he noted that the new IPCC Secretariat Office was now equipped with better conference and interviewing facilities and this would facilitate the IPCC to open part of is meetings to members of the public, thus increasing transparency of the system. End 6. Housing-related issues top concern in March ******************************************* Problems relating to housing have resumed its first position on the list of most-mentioned issues among the respondents as revealed in the latest public opinion survey conducted by the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) in March. Being the 75th in the series started in 1983 to monitor public opinion trends on perceived problems in Hong Kong on a bi-monthly basis, the survey was conducted from March 9 to 13 by telephone interviews with 1,568 respondents aged between 15 and 64. Of the three problems most mentioned by the respondents, housing-related issues again took first place on the list at 46 per cent, followed by economy-related (44 per cent) and labour-related problems (41 per cent). "On the housing-related problems, there is only an increase of two percentage points from 44 per cent in the January survey," said an HAB spokesman. In 1997, the figures recorded were over the 60 per cent level throughout the year. "The shift of the public's top concern to housing issues again during the period may be, to some extent, explained by the commencement of the application for the Housing Society's Home Starter Loan Scheme next month; the Housing Authority's introduction of the Rent or Buy Scheme for those on the public housing waiting list and the announcement of the 84,000 flats in 18 public housing estates to be put up for sale over the next three years," the spokesman said. Among those who found housing issues their greatest concern, 47 per cent (down from 51 per cent) were concerned about "the price of private housing being too high"; while the percentage of those mentioning "inadequate provision of public housing" has slightly increased to 19 per cent (up from 16 per cent). In addition, 22 per cent (up from 17 per cent) of them felt that the government had handled the problem well and 80 per cent of them (up from 72 per cent) considered that the Government had exerted effort in solving the problem. At 44 per cent (down from 52 per cent), the economy- related problems were ranked second on the list as the next major concern of the respondents. Among them, 44 per cent (up from 34 per cent) were concerned about "economic depression and weak economy" while 28 per cent (up from 21 per cent) were worried about the "employment situation and unemployment". The labour-related problems were the third most- perceived problems among 41 per cent (up from 33 per cent) of the respondents. Among them, 93 per cent (up from 84 per cent) mentioned that it was difficult to find jobs or concerned about underemployment. It is noted that people's concern for labour-related problems is on the rise since September 1997 at 19 per cent. Meanwhile, the survey also found that the number of people who were satisfied with the present situation and the overall performance of the Government have both risen slightly to 61 per cent (up from 58 per cent) and 48 per cent (up from 43 per cent) respectively. In addition, the percentage of the respondents who expected the situation to improve or remain unchanged in the coming 12 months has gone up from 50 per cent to 67 per cent; and who expressed confidence that Hong Kong would continue to be prosperous and stable also rose from 62 per cent to 67 per cent. End 7. Project to improve water supply to Hong Kong ******************************************** The Chief Executive in Council has agreed that an interest-free loan of HK$2,364 million be provided to the Guangdong Provincial People's Government to help fund the construction of a closed aqueduct system for supplying Dongjiang water to Hong Kong. The provision of the loan is subject to funding approval by the Finance Committee of the Provisional Legislative Council. Speaking at a press conference today (Monday), the Director of Water Supplies, Mr Hu Man-shiu, said the project, costing HK$4,100 million, would help to radically resolve the quality problem of Dongjiang water, which is at present subject to pollution en route the existing open aqueduct system. "In return for the loan provision, the Guangdong Authority has agreed to reduce the supply quantities by 560 million cubic metres (mcm) from 1998 to 2004 as our water demand growth in recent years has slowed down considerably," Mr Hu said. "The supply of Dongjiang water to Hong Kong has been satisfactory for more than 30 years but there have been signs of deterioration in quality in recent years as a result of rapid development and urbanisation in areas en route the Dongjiang-Shenzhen water supply system. "Despite this deterioration in quality, Dongjiang water has been acceptable and the treatment works in Hong Kong are fully capable of treating the Dongjiang water to the World Health Organisation Guidelines for Drinking Water. "In order to arrest the water quality problem, we have had extensive discussion with Guangdong officials for some time and have pressed for improvement. As a result, they have introduced various measures to improve the water quality, and the proposed closed aqueduct system is an effective long-term solution to the problem," Mr Hu said. Works on the project will begin at the end of this year and are scheduled for completion at the end of 2002. The loan will be drawn down in eight equal, half- yearly instalments, starting in December 1998. Repayment will be made in 20 equal yearly instalments, starting in 2003 or upon the commissioning of the completed works, whichever is the earlier. "The interest foregone with the loan will amount to about HK$2,000 million," Mr Hu said. "However, this amount will be more than offset by the total recurrent expenditure savings of HK$2,240 million arising from the reduction in water to be purchased from Guangdong for the period from 1998 to 2004," he stressed. Supply of Dongjiang water to Hong Kong is governed by an agreement signed between the two governments in 1989. Under this agreement, Hong Kong is contracted to take 780 mcm of water in 1998, rising 30 mcm annually to 960 mcm in 2004. "Because of the relocation of industry to the mainland in the early 1990's, the growth in water demand has slowed down considerably. There is a need to reduce the contracted annual supply in order to prevent overflowing from our reservoirs in wet years," Mr Hu said. "The Guangdong Authority has also agreed to take account of our future demand growth and water storage situation in determining the supply quantities beyond 2004," he said. End 8. Campaign to crack down pornographic materials ********************************************* To sustain the momentum of enforcement action against pornographic materials, the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (TELA), the Police and the Customs and Excise Department will jointly launch a two-month special campaign in April and May. Details were announced by the Assistant Commissioner for TELA, Mr Gary Yeung Yiu-shing, at a press briefing today (Monday). Also present were Police Superintendent (Support), Mr Charles Mitchell, and Head of the Intellectual Property Investigation Bureau of the Customs and Excise Department, Mr Calvin Leung. Mr Yeung noted that a similar campaign was first held last year which had produced good result in checking the proliferation of obscene articles, in particular pornographic video compact discs (VCDs). In 1997, there were 1,114 prosecutions against breaches of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (COIAO), resulting in the seizure of more than 639,000 obscene and indecent articles including 541,000 VCDs and CD-ROMs. These represented an increase of 25 per cent in prosecution and 195 per cent in seizures when compared with the previous year. Mr Yeung said: "The law enforcement agencies recognise the importance of sustaining the effectiveness of enforcement action. The Police, Customs and Excise Department and TELA have therefore agreed to conduct a two-month campaign against pornographic materials, starting April." During the campaign period, publicity and public education programme will be increased to enhance public awareness of the problem and to enlist their support in the fight against pornographic materials. The three departments will also step up enforcement action under the provisions of the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance (COIAO). TELA will distribute publicity leaflets on the provisions of the COIAO, arrange talks to schools and youth centres, and monitor articles on sale in the market and issue summonses against publishers if their publications do not comply with statutory requirements. The Police will concentrate their efforts at retail and wholesale outlets, such as video and computer shops, in the districts; while the Customs and Excise Department will tackle the problem at entry points and in the course of their copyright protection work. "We hope that through our intensive efforts, there will be increased public awareness of the problem of access to pornographic materials by young people," Mr Yeung said. He also appealed to schools and parents to give more guidance to children in the choice of leisure readings. End 9. Poll cards sent to voters ************************* About 140,000 voters for the Election Committee subsector elections should have received poll cards and voting guides which tell them where, when and how to vote this Thursday (April 2). Leaflets carrying personal particulars of candidates have also been mailed to voters of 35 subsectors representing various trades, professions, labour and social service sectors, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and district-based organisations. Those who have not received the materials by now are requested to contact the election hotline - 2588 1212 - or fax to 2519 7596. Ninety polling stations throughout the territory will be open from 7.30 am to 10.30 pm on Thursday. Pointing out that voting is simple, a spokesman for the Registration and Electoral Office said: "All a voter needs to do is to bring along his identity card and visit his designated polling station." "A voter will be given a ballot paper and an envelope. He should shade in black the ovals opposite the names of candidates of his choice. He may mark up to the number of members to be elected to represent his subsector but no more. "Then he should put the ballot paper into the envelope to conceal his votes before putting it into a ballot box," he said. If a voter of a subsector is also an authorised representative for his organisation of another subsector, he will be given two ballot papers and two envelopes, the spokesman said. Large posters bearing photographs of candidates and an album containing personal particulars of candidates will be made available at polling stations for voters' easy reference. Given that the polling day will fall on a working day, the spokesman urged employers to give permission to their employees to cast their votes during office hours. Counting of votes will be done at a central counting station at Hall 3 of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. About 2,000 seats in the central counting station will be reserved for candidates, agents and members of the public to observe the counting of votes and the announcement of election results. As 95 members on the Election Committee have already been returned from four uncontested subsectors, 963 candidates from 31 subsectors will run for 588 seats. These 683 members will join 77 ex-officio members and 40 members nominated by the Religious Subsector to form an 800-member Election Committee. The Election Committee final register will be published on April 9. The Election Committee will be responsible for electing 10 Legislative Council members on May 24. End 10. Preliminary estimates of HK's GNP for 1996 ****************************************** In 1996, Hong Kong's Gross National Product (GNP) was estimated at $1,183.1 billion at current market prices, representing an increase of 8.4% over 1995. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at current market prices for the same year was estimated at $1,192.4 billion, with an increase of 10.7% over the preceding year. There was a small net factor income outflow from Hong Kong of $9.2 billion, equivalent to less than 0.8% of GDP. The preliminary estimates of Hong Kong's GNP and external factor income flows for 1996 are released today by the Census and Statistics Department. Taking the size of the population into consideration, at current market prices, per capita GNP in 1996 was $187,471, representing an increase of 5.7% over 1995, while per capita GDP also increased, by 8.0% to $188,933. After discounting price changes, the preliminary estimate of Hong Kong's GNP in 1996, at constant prices, recorded an increase of 2.8%. This, when further adjusted for change in the terms of trade, gave a growth in real Gross National Income (GNI) of 4.6% in 1996, not much below the 5.0% growth in GDP at constant prices. Total external factor income inflow into Hong Kong showed a small decrease of 0.9 % to $383.8 billion in 1996. Total factor income outflow, on the other hand, rose by 5.4% to $393.0 billion. These inflow and outflow were equivalent to 32.2% and 33.0% of GDP. Within the total external factor income inflow, direct investment income (DII) and portfolio investment income (PII) increased by 12.3% and 8.6% respectively in 1996, whereas other investment income (OII) fell by 11.7%. Within the total external factor income outflow, DII and PII rose by 13.3% and 19.5% respectively in 1996, whereas OII fell by 5.0%. Of the total factor income inflow, the share of DII rose to 31.3% or $119.9 billion in 1996, from 27.6% or $106.8 billion in 1995. The share of PII also rose, to 22.2% or $85.3 billion in 1996, from 20.3% or $78.6 billion in 1995. The remaining share of OII, which includes interest income from loans and deposits, fell to 46.4% or $178.0 billion in 1996, from 52.1% or $201.6 billion in 1995. Of the total factor income outflow, the share of DII recovered to 51.3% or $201.6 billion in 1996, compared with 50.1% or $153.6 billion in 1993 and 47.7% or $177.9 billion in 1995. The share of PII was on a steady uptrend, rising to 7.3% or $28.8 billion, from 3.5% or $10.8 billion in 1993 and 6.5% or $24.1 billion in 1995. The share of OII however fell, to 41.2% or $162.0 billion in 1996, from 46.3% or $141.9 billion in 1993 and 45.7% or $170.5 billion in 1995. Analysed by country/territory, Japan remained the largest source of Hong Kong's external factor income inflow, accounting for 20.1% or $77.2 billion of the total in 1996. This was followed by the British Virgin Islands ( 15.2% or $58.4 billion), the mainland of China (8.1% or $31.2 billion), and the United Kingdom (7.1% or $27.1 billion). Japan also topped the list of destinations for factor income outflow from Hong Kong, accounting for 21.2% or $83.4 billion of the total. This was followed by the British Virgin Islands (10.0% or $39.3 billion), the United Kingdom (9.4% or $36.9 billion), and the United States (8.2% or $32.2 billion). Commenting on the latest GNP figures, a Government Secretariat spokesman pointed out that Hong Kong is a highly externally oriented economy with substantial international transaction flows. Reflecting this, both the external factor income inflow and external factor income outflow continued to be sizeable in 1996. The overall factor income account was broadly balanced, with a small net factor income outflow of less than 0.8% of GDP. The spokesman further pointed out that both DII inflow and outflow recorded robust growth in 1996, reflecting good return from both outward direct investment from and inward direct investment to Hong Kong. PII outflow showed a much faster increase than PII inflow in 1996. This was due to the faster expansion and relatively better performance of the local stock market as compared to many of the major stock market overseas. Both OII inflow and outflow declined, with the inflow falling to a greater extent than the outflow. The reduced OII inflow and outflow were due to the general easing in interest rates as well as the narrowing differential between the lending and borrowing rates both locally and in many of the industrialised countries, which lowered the interest income derived from loans and deposits as a major constituent of OII. The slower growth in Japanese-related offshore lending, and the valuation effect of a strong Hong Kong dollar against other foreign currencies also contributed to the relatively weaker OII inflow and outflow. Finally, the spokesman noted that the increasing tendency of companies and individuals in Hong Kong to set up holding companies in tax havens, such as the British Virgin Islands and others in the British Channel and the Caribbean Sea, further boosted the factor income inflow and outflow. Moreover, the faster decline in OII inflow than in OII outflow, and to a lesser extend the faster increase in PII outflow than in PII inflow, resulted in a swing from a small net factor income inflow in 1995 to a small net factor income outflow in 1996, even though the swing was only modest in magnitude against the GDP. GDP and GNP are closely-related measures of economic performance. GDP is the total value of production of all producing units within the territory. GNP denotes the total income earned by residents of a particular territory, regardless of the place in which the economic activities giving the income are undertaken. In other words, the estimate for GNP is obtained by making the following adjustments to the estimate for GDP: adding factor income earned by residents from outside the territory and deducting factor income earned by non- residents from within the territory. The estimates of GNP and external factor income flows for 1996 are preliminary figures. They are subject to revisions when more completed data are available in due course. Enquiries about GNP and external factor income flows statistics may be directed to the National Income Branch (2) of the Census and Statistics Department on telephone number 2332 7486. End 11. Appointment of new-term membership of HKCPEC ******************************************** The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today (Monday) announced the appointment of the new-term membership of the Hong Kong Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation (HKCPEC) for two years, effective from April 1 this year. Mr William Fung, Group Managing Director of Li and Fung Limited, has been re-appointed as Chairman. Established in March 1990, the HKCPEC, structured on a tripartite basis, is appointed by the Financial Secretary to advise the Government on matters related to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's participation in the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC), a non-governmental organisation seeking to develop closer cooperation on trade and economic policy issues in the Pacific region. The HKCPEC comprises members from the business, academic and government sectors. The new-term membership is composed of 24 members, with eight from each of the three sectors. Among the new-term members, 16 are re-appointed members including its Chairman. Members from the business sector who have been re- appointed are: * Mr Kwok Kwok-chuen, Chief Economist, NE Asia, Economics Department of Standard Chartered Bank; * Mr Lee Jark-pui, Director of Lippo Limited; * Dr James Liu, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Industrial Technology Centre Corporation; and * Dr William Lo, Managing Director of Hongkong Telecom IMS. Re-appointed members from the academic sector are: * Professor Ho Lok-sang, Head, Department of Economics of Lingnan College; * Professor Richard Yan-ki Ho, Dean, Faculty of Business of the City University of Hong Kong; * Dr John Ure, Director, Telecommunications Research Project, Centre of Asian Studies of the University of Hong Kong; and * Professor Richard Wong Yue-chim, Director, School of Business of the University of Hong Kong. Re-appointed members from the Government are: * Mr Tam Wing-pong, Deputy Secretary for Trade and Industry who also serves as the Vice-Chairman of HKCPEC; * Mr Tang Kwong-yiu, Government Economist; * Mr Matthew Cheung, Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower; * Mr Leo Kwan, Deputy Secretary for Economic Services; * Mrs Rebecca Lai, Deputy Secretary for Financial Services; * Miss Annie Tang, Deputy Director-General of Industry; and * Miss Adeline Wong, Assistant Director-General of Trade who also acts as the Committee's Secretary-General. Eight new members have been appointed to the HKCPEC for the first time. They are: * Professor Leonard K H Cheng, Head, Department of Economics, School of Business and Management of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; * Professor Fan Yiu-kwan, Dean, School of Business, Hong Kong Baptist University; * Professor Lee Kam-hon, Dean, Faculty of Business Administration of The Chinese University of Hong Kong; * Professor Edwin Tai-chiu Cheng, Vice President (Research and postgraduate Studies) of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University; * Mr Clement Cheng-jen Chen, Executive Director of Tai Hing Cotton Mill Limited; * Mr Chu Hon-fai, Director of Dah Chong Hong Limited; * Mr Eric Ip, Executive Director of Hongkong International Terminals Limited; and * Mr James Henry Lau Jr, Executive Director (External Affairs) of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. Hong Kong became a member of PECC in May 1991. Currently, the PECC has a total of 23 Member Committees representing the economies of Australia; Brunei Darussalam; Canada; Chile; China; Colombia; Hong Kong, China; Indonesia; Japan; Korea; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Peru; the Philippines; Russia; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Thailand, the United States; Vietnam and the Pacific Island Nations. France (South Pacific Territories) joined as an associate member in April 1997. The PECC also has two institutional members which are the Pacific Trade and Development Conference (PAFTAD) and Pacific Basin Economic Council (PBEC). End 12. NLB new fares to take effect from April *************************************** The Transport Department today (Monday) reminds passengers that the new fare scale for New Lantao Bus (NLB) will be effective from Wednesday (April 1) onwards. An increment rate of nine per cent was approved by the Chief Executive in Council this month. Bus fares will be increased by $0.2 to $1.5 for weekdays while passengers will have to pay $0.4 to $2.0 more for a single trip during weekends. NLB last increased its fares in February 1996. End 13. 'Speedy News' on Internet ************************* With the launching of a new service "Speedy News" on the Internet by the Information Services Department (ISD), members of the public can now get access to government press releases almost at the same time when the media receive the same materials. All they have to do is to "click" into the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government home page - the "Government Information Centre" (GIC) - at http://www.info.gov.hk. A spokesman for the Information Services Department today (Monday) pointed out that the "Speedy News" would be a major improvement to the dissemination of information to the public by means of the Internet. "In the past, only major press releases were uploaded manually onto the Internet after they have been issued to the media. All items were uploaded in the form of a Daily Information Bulletin the following day," he said. "With the installation of a specially-designed computer programme, press releases issued by the ISD can now be converted into Internet file format and then be uploaded onto the Government web site automatically and in a speedy manner throughout the day," he added. He said that press releases in both English and Chinese would be uploaded within five minutes after they had been sent to the media via a dedicated network. Internet users could choose from the daily index page the press releases, which were arranged in chronological order, they were interested in, he added. "By clicking 'Daily Information Bulletin', Internet users can read press releases, speeches and transcripts of remarks and statements made by senior officials, statistical reports and important announcements. "By clicking 'Weather Reports', they can browse hourly air temperature readings, three-day weather forecast, weather information for South China coastal waters and weather of other cities," the spokesman explained. "To make the home page more user-friendly, links will be added to the press releases guiding users to related materials such as speeches and statistics. "Major press releases will be further categorised to enable easy access to them from different sections of the web site," he noted. The spokesman added that those who want to know more about the services and work of individual bureaux and departments were welcome to visit the GIC. "At http://www.info.gov.hk, members of the public can access to a reservoir of Government information. "The daily 'hit' at the index page of the web site has increased 10-fold from 467 in December 1995 when the home page was launched to 5,143 last month. Over 22,398,000 visits to all pages of the web site were recorded during the period. "The GIC has also become an important source of information on major Government activities and events such as the Chief Executive's Policy Address, the Financial Secretary's Budget and the Legislative Council Election," he said. End 14. Construction output for the 4th quarter & whole year of 1997 ************************************************************ The gross value of construction work, in nominal terms, performed by main contractors amounted to $130.7 billion in 1997, which represented an increase of 12.4%, according to the preliminary results of the Quarterly Survey of Construction Output released today (Monday) by the Census and Statistics Department. After discounting price changes, the gross value of construction work, measured at constant (1990) market prices, performed by main contractors in 1997 increased by 2.7%. The gross value of construction work, in nominal terms, performed at private sector sites totalled $56.1 billion in 1997, representing a notable increase of 39%. When measured at constant (1990) market prices, it was up by 24%. The gross value of construction work, in nominal terms, performed at public sector sites amounted to $42.0 billion in 1997, representing a decrease of 10.0%. When measured at constant (1990) market prices, it was down by 15.9%. The gross value of construction work, in nominal terms, performed by contractors at locations other than construction sites amounted to $32.5 billion in 1997, 11.8% higher than 1996. When measured at constant (1990) market prices, it increased by 2.9%. Work in this category included minor new construction activities and renovation work at erected buildings and structures; and electrical and mechanical fitting work. Analysed by end-use, residential building projects (including commercial and residential composite buildings) accounted for the largest portion of the gross value of construction work, in nominal terms, performed at construction sites. The gross value of construction work performed for these projects was $36.2 billion in 1997, representing a notable increase of 35%. Transport projects, which included the new airport and related infrastructural projects, represented the second largest category of construction site work. The gross value of construction work, in nominal terms, performed for these projects was $23.1 billion in 1997, 14.0% lower than 1996. Commercial building projects constituted the third largest category of construction site work. The gross value of construction work, in nominal terms, performed for these projects totalled $17.1 billion in 1997, representing a remarkable increase of 44%. A government secretariat spokesman noted that construction output at private sector sites rose strongly in 1997, bolstered by robust building activity. The slowdown in construction output at public sector sites was attributable mainly to the winding down of projects under the Airport Core Programme. Meanwhile, output of non-site work (mainly renovation and interior decoration work) increased moderately in real terms. Comparing the fourth quarter of 1997 with the fourth quarter of 1996, the gross value of construction work, in nominal terms, performed by main contractors increased by 7.2%. When measured at constant (1990) market prices, it decreased by 3.1%. Within this total, the gross value of construction work, in nominal terms, performed at private sector sites in the fourth quarter of 1997 surged by 39%. On the other hand, the gross value of construction work performed at public sector sites however fell by 25%. Meanwhile, the gross value of construction work performed by contractors at locations other than construction sites rose by 11.4%. When measured at constant (1990) market prices, the gross value of construction output in the fourth quarter of 1997 registered an increase of 23% for works performed at private sector sites; a decrease of 31% for works at public sector sites; and an increase of 2.8% for works at locations other than construction sites. Compared with the third quarter of 1997, the gross value of construction work, in nominal terms, performed by main contractors in the fourth quarter of 1997 increased by 7.0%. The corresponding increase measured at constant (1990) market prices was 4.1%. The gross values of construction work at constant (1990) market prices are derived by deflating the nominal values with appropriate price indices to the price level of 1990. Owing to the widespread sub-contracting practices in the construction industry, a construction establishment can be a main contractor for one contract and a sub- contractor for another contract at the same time. The gross value of construction work performed by main contractors covers only those projects in which the construction establishment takes the role of a main contractor, but not projects in which it takes only the role of a sub-contractor. However, sub-contractors' contribution to projects should have been included in the gross value of construction work performed by main contractors for whom they worked. More detailed statistics on construction output are given in the "Report on the Quarterly Survey of Construction Output, 4th Quarter 1997". The report is now on sale at $14 per copy at the Government Publications Centre, Ground Floor, Low Block, Queensway Government Offices; and the Census and Statistics Department Publications Unit, 19th floor, Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. Regular subscription may also be arranged. Enquiries about the survey may be directed to the Building, Construction and Real Estate Statistics Section of the Census and Statistics Department on 2805 6426. End 15. New operator for Central-Pak Kok Tsuen ferry service **************************************************** The Transport Department today (Monday) awarded a licence to the Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry Ltd under the Ferry Services Ordinance (Cap. 104) to operate licensed ferry service between Central and Pak Kok Tsuen. Starting from April 15, the company will operate ferry service daily between 6.15 am and 7.30 pm at a frequency of 60 minutes at peak periods. The fare for adult is $12 per single journey. A double-deck catamaran with seating capacity of 94 passengers will be deployed. End 16. Holistic review of mathematics curriculum ***************************************** The Ad Hoc Committee for the Holistic Review of the Mathematics Curriculum has been set up to improve the co- ordination of syllabus development among various mathematics subjects. Chaired by Dr Wong King-keung from the Airport Authority, the committee comprises 13 members from primary and secondary schools, tertiary institutions, professional bodies, commercial/industrial sectors, the Hong Kong Examinations Authority and the Education Department. The committee is to make recommendations to the Curriculum Development Council (CDC) on ways to enhance the continuity and intra-level coherence of the mathematics curriculum at various levels. Apart from gathering general information on teaching and learning of the subject in Hong Kong and overseas, the committee also exchanged views with the CDC's subject committees of the primary, secondary and sixth-form levels on major issues. Issues discussed include cross-level linkage of the syllabuses, mathematics for students of different abilities and orientations, development and implementation of the Target-Oriented Curriculum and the use of information technology. Furthermore, the committee also invites tertiary institutions to propose researches on views and expectations of different sectors on school mathematics as well as world-wide trend of mathematics education. Based on the research findings, the committee is expected to submit final report to the CDC by the end of 1999. End 17. Water storage figure ******************** Storage in Hong Kong's reservoirs at 9 am today (Monday) stood at 80.2 per cent of capacity or 469.913 million cubic metres. This time last year the reservoirs contained 459.828 million cubic metres of water, representing 78.5 per cent of capacity. End

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