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PRESS RELEASE

(Source : Government Information Centre)

LegCo to resume Second Reading Debate on Revenue
(Abolition of Estate Duty) Bill 2005

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The following is issued on behalf of the Legislative Council Secretariat:

The Legislative Council will hold a meeting this Wednesday (November 2) at 11am in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building. During the meeting, Members will resume Second Reading debate on the Revenue (Abolition of Estate Duty) Bill 2005.

The Bill was introduced into the Legislative Council on May 11, 2005. It aims to give effect to the proposal in the 2005-2006 Budget to abolish estate duty and to make related and consequential amendments. If the Bill is supported by Members and receives its Second Reading, it will then go through the Committee Stage and be read the third time.

Meanwhile, Members will debate a motion on perfecting the food safety regulatory mechanism. The motion, to be moved by Hon WONG Yung-kan, says:"That, as a number of food safety incidents which occurred recently in Hong Kong have exposed the Government's shortcomings in the regulation of food safety, its slow reaction to emergencies and the inadequacies in the notification system between Hong Kong and the Mainland, and have also seriously affected the public's confidence in the Government's capability to perform the gate-keeping role, this Council urges the Government to:

(a) expeditiously implement the plan to re-organize the food safety regulatory framework after consulting this Council and the public at large, to ensure that the posts of frontline staff are not affected by the re-organization plan, and to enhance training for staff so that they can grasp the ever-changing food safety knowledge and meet the related new technological requirements;

(b) strengthen and re-organize the existing consultative framework on food safety by including representatives from the agriculture and fisheries industries, catering industry, veterinary profession and consumer organizations, so that they can more comprehensively advise the Government on food safety matters;

(c) step up Hong Kong's monitoring of foods at source at their places of origin;

(d) conduct a comprehensive review of the existing standards and legislation on safe production of foods, including strictly regulating the use of drugs and chemicals and their residue contents in foods as well as the microbe counts in foods, etc, so as to ensure food safety;

(e) perfect the food safety notification systems between Hong Kong and the Mainland as well as other places supplying food to Hong Kong, and to strengthen co-operation with the Mainland in combating food smuggling;

(f) devote more resources to enhance the Government's capability in food testing and hygiene inspection;

(g) study the establishment of a food tracking system and the implementation of food recall arrangements, so as to raise the Government's capability in handling food safety incidents;

(h) study the establishment of a food safety certification mechanism whereby identification labels are awarded to safe, quality food products so as to help consumers make their choices; and

(i) expedite the pace in promoting a quality production and management scheme for local agricultural and fishery products, and to establish a branding system for local products, in order to fully enhance Hong Kong's capability in regulating food safety and safeguard public safety in food consumption."

Hon Tommy Cheung Yu-yan will move an amendment to Hon WONG Yung-kan's motion.

Members will also debate a motion on comprehensively developing the border area. The motion, to be moved by Hon WONG Ting-kwong, says:"That, as the Chief Executive has announced in his Policy Address the decision to significantly reduce the size of the closed area and to redraw the limits of the new closed area so as to release land for redevelopment, this Council urges the Government to expedite the completion of the realignment of the closed area and formulation of the planning proposals, and to devise an overall strategy on this basis to comprehensively develop the border area between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, so as to create new growth areas for Hong Kong's economy, promote co-operation between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, facilitate the development of Hong Kong's trade in services, industries and tourism, and create new employment opportunities."

Hon Sin Chung-kai will move an amendment to Hon WONG Ting-kwong's motion.

Meanwhile, the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour will move a resolution under the Tung Chung Cable Car Ordinance to seek approval of the Tung Chung Cable Car Bylaw.

In addition, the Chief Secretary will present the Government Minute in response to the Report No.44 of the Public Accounts Committee dated July 2005, and the Government Minute in response to the Seventeenth Annual Report of the Ombudsman issued in June 2005, and address the Council respectively.

During the meeting, Members will ask the Government 20 questions on various policy areas, six of which require oral replies.

The agenda of the above meeting can be obtained via the Legislative Council InfoFax Service (Tel: 2869 9568) or the Legislative Council web site (http://www.legco.gov.hk).

Members of the public are welcome to observe the proceedings of the meeting from the public galleries of the Legislative Council Chamber. They may reserve seats by calling 2869 9399 during office hours. Seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

Ends/Monday, October 31, 2005
Issued at HKT 18:36

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