Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung is mired in controversy – again. This time critics decry the appointment of Mainland heavyweights to a new Financial Services Development Council.
Leung responds to criticism over composition of new council
Thursday’s revelation that the Financial Services Development Council that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has advocated in the past would include the heads of several mainland-invested enterprises as well as members of China’s political elite has caused a controversy. Yesterday, Leung responded to critics, saying that the council members were chosen based on their capabilities and not on their nationality. Additionally, ExCo Convener Lam Woon-kwong said that he did not think that it was excessive that one-fifth of the members of the council were from a mainland capital background. Lam also noted that the council should have representatives from the mainland because one of its purposes was to promote the use of Hong Kong as a platform for the internationalization of China’s finance market. However, Michael Tien, deputy chairman of the New People’s Party, said that he worries that the council will be able to avoid the scrutiny of LegCo.
Chief executive and other officials say conflicting words over need for vacancy tax
Yesterday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said that he would not exclude the possibility that the government would impose a vacancy tax on unsold apartments that were held by developers. Several critiques have been made of this proposal with some critics, such as the New People’s Party’s Michael Tien, remarking that the current vacancy rate in Hong Kong was already low. Tien explained that he was more worried about the possibility that the new Financial Services Development Council would escape regulation. Additionally, in December 2012, Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung, said that a new tax might not be effective in increasing supply. Finally, Thomas Chan, Deputy Secretary of Development, said that he did not think that developers were purposely hoarding flats.
Law requiring ocean vessels to switch to low-sulfur diesel may be introduced
Deputy Secretary for the Environment Christine Loh said yesterday that the government had decided to introduce legislation that would require ocean vessels to switch to low-sulfur diesel while berthed in Hong Kong. Industry representatives say that the impact on shipping would not be very big. Additionally, Loh responded to critics of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s proposal to build more incinerators in Hong Kong by noting that Leung has never said that he would not promote the construction of new incinerators.