From Today’s Cantonese Press

Apologies readers – I am in Stockholm and it’s hard to keep on top of the blog when you’re traveling. Here’s what made news in Hong Kong yesterday. Timely? No! Apologies.

State Council officially appoints Zhang Xiaoming to lead liaison office

Yesterday, the State Council formally announced the appointment of Zhang Xiaoming as the director of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong. At the same time, it officially removed the former director, Peng Qinghua, and his deputy, Li Gang. According to information obtained by Sing Tao, Li Gang will be transferred to the central government’s liaison office in Macau, where he will serve as the deputy director until after Macau’s legislative elections. After the elections have concluded, he will take over the director’s role from Bai Zhijian. As for Zhang Xiaoming, those who are familiar with his work say that he is very knowledgeable about Hong Kong, and that he is an appropriate choice. Sing Tao also claims that Zhang plans to openly interact with different stakeholders in Hong Kong.


Local companies will not be exempted from the buyer stamp duty

Although property developers generally believe that the government should exempt local companies from paying the buyer stamp duty, ExCo has decided not to grant the exemption. However, redevelopment projects can receive a refund of the duty, provided that the developer that undertakes the redevelopment does so within six years of signing the contract. The related regulations will be written up next week and will be submitted to LegCo for approval on 9 January. After the conclusion of an ExCo meeting yesterday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said that the government would take a strict approach on the buyer stamp duty so as to prevent loopholes. Stuart Leung, Chairman of the Real Estate Developers’ Association, has expressed his disappointment.


Salary commission does not recommend lowering starting salaries for civil service

Yesterday, the Standing Commission on Civil Service Salaries and Conditions of Service (SCCS) published its latest survey on the salaries of newly recruited civil servants. Although all newly entering civil servants had salaries that were higher than the market rates, those of university graduates were particularly high. However, despite this HK$2,000 discrepancy between university graduates and the market rate, the commission does not recommend a pay cut. The commission’s rationale is that higher salaries are needed to attract talent to public service.


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