Hong Kong – Co-ordination measures in relation to arrival of visitors to Hong Kong during Labour Day Holiday (with photos)

Co-ordination measures in relation to arrival of visitors to Hong Kong during Labour Day Holiday (with photos)


     ​Following the first meeting held on April 3 to co-ordinate the preparation work for the arrival of visitors to Hong Kong during the Labour Day Holiday, the Tourism Commission convened another meeting on Monday (April 24) to follow up on the preparation work carried out by various departments. The meeting was hosted by the Commissioner for Tourism, Ms Vivian Sum, with representatives from government departments including the Customs and Excise Department, the Hong Kong Police Force, the Immigration Department (ImmD), the Transport Department, various District Offices, etc, and various tourism-related organisations including the Travel Industry Authority (TIA), the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, major tourist attractions, hotel industry, etc, also attended. Relevant parties will continue to maintain close communication on the people flow during the Labour Day Holiday and co-ordinate different links for receiving visitors’ arrival to Hong Kong, a Government spokesman said today (April 26).
     During the Labour Day Holiday, relevant government departments will strengthen manpower and co-ordination of transport and cross-boundary services at various control points, including making arrangements for crowd management, increasing coach parking provision and transport frequency, etc. Ms Vivian Sum, joined by relevant government departments and the TIA, inspected the Heung Yuen Wai Control Point on April 18 to understand the current crowd management for Mainland inbound visitors and proposed enhancement measures to better utilise the space inside the station to disperse the crowd. The Inter-departmental Joint Command Centre set up by Customs, the Police Force, ImmD and other relevant departments will be activated during the Labour Day Holiday to monitor the situation at each land control point, as well as to maintain close liaison with Mainland counterparts and take contingency actions where necessary.
     Various District Offices will closely monitor the flow of visitors within their corresponding districts during the Labour Day Holiday and strengthen management of the relevant spots having regard to the actual circumstances. Various major tourist attractions will also put in place crowd control measures during the Labour Day Holiday.    
     The TIA has been reminding travel agents receiving relevant Mainland inbound tour groups to stagger arrival times as far as possible and urge travel agents, shops, restaurants, etc, receiving Mainland inbound tour groups to implement appropriate measures for the orderly management of visitors and coaches. To protect inbound tour group visitors’ rights, the TIA will deploy additional manpower during the Labour Day Holiday to conduct inspections in districts where relatively more registered shops for inbound tour groups are located, offer assistance to visitors and tourist guides, and step up enforcement. In addition, Customs will step up inspection of shops serving visitors so as to combat unfair trade practices such as coerced shopping. The TIA carried out inspection with Customs on registered shops for inbound tour groups on April 24. 
     The Tourism Commission has been maintaining liaison with the tourism authorities in Guangdong and Shenzhen and has been communicating with them on the arrival of Mainland visitors, and has provided the hotlines of the relevant local organisations to Mainland inbound group visitors via the tourism authorities in Guangdong and Shenzhen.
     To assist visitors in planning their trips, ImmD will upload the daily arrival figures (April 29 to May 4) of each control point to its website (www.immd.gov.hk) from April 30 to May 5. Information about figures of arrival and the flow of people of major tourist attractions will also be hyperlinked to the HKTB’s website (www.discoverhongkong.com) for visitors’ reference. In addition, visitors may check the estimated waiting time at each land boundary control point via the Immigration Mobile Application.
     During the Labour Day Holiday, in case of any emergency, Mainland inbound tour group visitors, tour escorts accompanying the tour groups and local tourist guides may seek assistance from the TIA by calling its service hotline 3698 5900 (operating from 9am to 11pm). For enquiries or complaints, visitors may call the HKTB’s hotline 2508 1234 (operating from 9am to 6pm) or the Consumer Council’s hotline 2929 2222 (operating from 9am to 5.30pm).
     “It is expected that cross-boundary passenger traffic from April 29 to May 3 will be much heavier than usual. To avoid congestion during the morning and evening peak hours at each land boundary control point, we appeal to Mainland visitors and local residents to cross the boundary during non-peak hours,” the spokesman said.

Hong Kong – LCQ17: Measures to optimise four senior secondary core subjects

LCQ17: Measures to optimise four senior secondary core subjects


     Following is a question by Professor the Hon Lau Chi-pang and a written reply by the Secretary for Education, Dr Choi Yuk-lin, in the Legislative Council today (March 15):
     The measures to optimise the four senior secondary core subjects (i.e. Chinese Language, English Language, Mathematics and Citizenship and Social Development in lieu of Liberal Studies) (the optimising measures) have been implemented from Secondary Four since the 2021-2022 school year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given that after the implementation of the optimising measures, the lesson time of the aforesaid core subjects takes up no more than half of the total lesson time, and schools may make reasonable arrangements for the lesson time released (including how the lesson time should be allocated, what subject choices should be offered, and how other learning experiences should be arranged), whether the Education Bureau (EDB) has effectively grasped the details of the subjects or other learning experiences on which the lesson time released is spent after the implementation of the optimising measures; if not, how the EDB ensures that schools make reasonable use of the lesson time released;

(2) whether the EDB has conducted surveys on students’ learning effectiveness and teachers’ teaching situation under the optimising measures; if so, of the results, and the responses of students and teachers to the optimising measures after their implementation; if not, whether the information provided by schools alone is sufficient for the EDB to review the effectiveness of the optimising measures; and

(3) given that in the light of the implementation of the optimising measures, the EDB has put in place support measures for schools in different aspects (including providing professional development programmes for teachers, developing learning and teaching resources, etc.), of the implementation situation of such support measures?
     To follow up on the recommendations on creating space for students and catering for learner diversity set out in the review report with the theme “Optimise the curriculum for the future, Foster whole-person development and diverse talents” of the Task Force on Review of School Curriculum published in 2020, the Education Bureau (EDB) has launched measures to optimise the four senior secondary (SS) core subjects, aiming to release lesson time, reduce examination pressure faced by students and enhance flexibility in the SS curriculum. The optimising measures have been implemented from Secondary Four since the 2021/22 school year, and will be extended to Secondary Six in the 2023/24 school year. Under the optimising measures, the four SS core subjects should not take up more than half of the total lesson time. Capitalising on the lesson time released, schools can better cater for learner diversity and help students develop their interests. Schools can flexibly use the released lesson time with due regard to their contexts and provide students with more options through holistic curriculum planning to cater for learner diversity and nurture students’ whole-person development.
     My reply in response to the question raised by Professor the Hon Lau Chi-pang is as follows:
(1) and (2) The EDB has been maintaining communication with schools through various channels to keep in view the implementation of the optimising measures in secondary schools. In the 2021/22 school year, the EDB conducted the secondary curriculum implementation survey. Information submitted by 436 secondary schools showed that in the first year of implementing the optimising measures, schools in general were able to release lesson time from the core subjects at Secondary Four, and review and plan the curriculum in a holistic and flexible manner to provide more diversified options for students. The majority of schools have arranged for the first cohort of Secondary Four students under the optimising measures to take an additional subject. According to the Survey on Senior Secondary Subject Information conducted annually by the EDB, the number of students taking the Extended Part (Module 1/Module 2) of Mathematics and Other Languages in the 2021/22 school year increased, while there was a significant rise in the number of Secondary Four students taking three elective subjects and Applied Learning courses. Please refer to the Annex for details.
     The optimising measures also provide more room for schools to arrange Other Learning Experiences and life-wide learning activities for students, thereby encouraging them to develop interests and nurturing their whole-person development and diverse talents. In the 2021/22 school year, over half of the schools drew on the space released to increase students’ participation in learning activities on values education so as to cultivate in students proper values and positive attitudes towards life within and beyond the classroom. Through holistic planning, many schools have devised diversified learning experiences in alignment with the major emphases of the curriculum, such as strengthening reading and language learning, promoting STEAM (i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) education and developing students’ self-directed learning capabilities.
     Besides conducting surveys, the EDB has also collected feedback from stakeholders through channels such as teacher learning circles, meetings with partner schools and focus group interviews. Overall speaking, teachers in general are able to holistically review and progressively plan the curriculum and arrange diversified learning activities for students in tandem with the recommendation of trimming and differentiating the curricula and assessments under the optimising measures. This helps enrich students’ learning experiences, broaden their knowledge and cater for their diverse interests, abilities and aspirations. Teachers agreed that the optimising measures could help relieve students’ learning pressure, raise their interests in subject learning and learning activities, and enhance their understanding of particular learning areas. Besides, students’ interaction and exchange with peers and teachers have been strengthened.
     In addition, the EDB continually seeks to understand and monitor the implementation of the optimising measures in schools through various channels such as inspections (including External School Reviews and Focus Inspections) and school visits. The EDB officers will review the whole-school curriculum arrangements and make recommendations for improvement in respect of school curriculum planning, with a view to facilitating self-improvement and upholding the spirit of accountability in schools.
     The implementation of the optimising measures is still in its initial stage. Preliminary information shows that the measures have benefited both teachers and students. For the sake of continuous improvements, the EDB will continue to keep in view the implementation of the optimising measures at the school level through various channels and will put the information gathered to the Curriculum Development Council (CDC) for professional discussions under the curriculum development mechanism. The EDB will strive to bring the optimising measures to fruition to enrich students’ learning experiences, broaden their knowledge and help them develop multiple skills, laying a solid foundation for further studies and work.
(3) With the implementation of the measures to optimise the four SS core subjects, the CDC has released the Supplementary Notes to the Secondary Education Curriculum Guide (2017) (Note 1) in a timely manner for schools’ reference. The Supplementary Notes include the relevant updates such as the suggested lesson time allocation for the SS curriculum. As the nature and approach for optimisation of the four SS core subjects vary, the curriculum documents (Note 2) of the four subjects have been updated, revised or supplemented in varying degrees so as to clearly illustrate the optimising measures and contents of each subject.
     The EDB has all along been adopting diversified and specific measures, including providing online and/or face-to-face teacher professional development programmes, experience-sharing sessions, professional networking activities and onsite professional support services, to assist schools in creating space for students and catering for learner diversity based on school contexts and student needs. These support measures cover SS curriculum planning and implementation, learning and teaching strategies, knowledge enrichment, strengthening cross-curricular links and timetabling, and so forth, aiming at providing full support for schools to implement the optimising measures with due regard to the needs of different subjects and facilitating exchange among schools. Furthermore, the EDB has been developing learning and teaching resources, including curriculum documents, teaching materials, references and exemplars, to enable teachers to accurately understand the requirements and emphases of the optimising measures. Relevant resources have already been uploaded to the EDB websites, including the EDB Educational MultiMedia, Citizenship and Social Development/Liberal Studies Web-based Resource Platform and the one-stop webpage (Note 3), for schools’ reference and adoption. The EDB has also been organising life-wide learning activities pertaining to different subjects (such as seminars on the appreciation of classical Chinese literature, competitions on English sayings of wisdom and the Mainland study tour for the Citizenship and Social Development subject) for students, and positive feedback has been received from schools.

Note 1: Please refer to the Supplementary Notes to the Secondary Education Curriculum Guide (2017) www.edb.gov.hk/attachment/en/curriculum-development/renewal/Guides/Supp_notes_SECG_Eng_20210628.pdf
Note 2: The Chinese Language Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4-6) (2021), the English Language Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4-6) (2021), the Guidelines on Catering for Learner Diversity and Creating Space for Senior Secondary Mathematics (2021) and the Citizenship and Social Development Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4-6) (2021) have been uploaded to the website of the EDB: www.edb.gov.hk/en/curriculum-development/renewal/guides.html
Note 3: Please refer to the EDB Educational MultiMedia (emm.edcity.hk/), Citizenship and Social Development/Liberal Studies Web-based Resource Platform (ls.edb.hkedcity.net/en/index.php) and the one-stop webpage (www.edb.gov.hk/en/curriculum-development/resource-support/learning-teaching-resource-list/index.html).

Hong Kong – Tax measures proposed in 2023-24 Budget

Tax measures proposed in 2023-24 Budget


     In his Budget delivered today (February 22), the Financial Secretary proposed the following tax measures.

     The Financial Secretary proposed a one-off reduction of profits tax, salaries tax and tax under personal assessment for the year of assessment 2022/23 by 100 per cent, subject to a ceiling of $6,000 per case. This measure will cost the Government $9.2 billion, benefitting 1.9 million taxpayers liable to salaries tax and tax under personal assessment and 134 000 businesses.
     The tax reduction will reduce the amount of tax payable by taxpayers for the year of assessment 2022/23. Taxpayers should file their profits tax returns and tax returns for individuals for the year of assessment 2022/23 as usual. Upon enactment of the relevant legislation, the Inland Revenue Department will effect the reduction in the final assessment.
     The proposed tax reduction will only be applicable to the final tax for the year of assessment 2022/23, but not to the provisional tax of the same year. Therefore, taxpayers are still required to pay the provisional tax on time as stipulated in the demand notes that have been issued to them. The provisional tax paid will, in accordance with the Inland Revenue Ordinance, be applied in payment of the final tax for the year of assessment 2022/23 and provisional tax for the year of assessment 2023/24. The excess balance, if any, will be refunded.
     The proposed tax reduction is not applicable to property tax. Nevertheless, individuals with rental income, if eligible for personal assessment, may be able to enjoy such a reduction under personal assessment.
     A taxpayer who is separately chargeable to salaries tax and profits tax can enjoy a tax reduction under each of the tax types. For a taxpayer having business profits or rental income and electing for personal assessment, the reduction will be based on the tax payable under personal assessment. It might be different from the amount of tax reduction he or she would get if he or she was not assessed under personal assessment. The exact amount will need to be evaluated case by case. Individuals having business profits or rental income may elect for personal assessment in their tax returns for the year of assessment 2022/23.
     In addition to the one-off tax reduction, the Financial Secretary proposed to increase child allowance effective from the year of assessment 2023/24. The basic child allowance for each child and the additional child allowance for each child born during the year of assessment will both increase from the current $120,000 to $130,000. 

     On profits tax, the Financial Secretary proposed to provide tax deduction for the spectrum utilisation fees to be paid by the future successful bidders of radio spectrum. Besides, he proposed to increase the tax deduction for the Mandatory Provident Fund voluntary contributions made by employers for their employees aged 65 or above from the current 100 per cent to 200 per cent. 
     On betting duty, the Financial Secretary proposed to impose an annual special football betting duty of $2.4 billion on the Hong Kong Jockey Club under the Betting Duty Ordinance (Cap. 108) for 5 years starting from 2023-24 while the current betting duty rates remain unchanged.
     The above measures will be implemented upon completion of the relevant legislative procedures.
     In respect of stamp duty, the Financial Secretary proposed to adjust the value bands on which the ad valorem stamp duty at Scale 2 rates apply. The new value bands will be applicable to any conveyance on sale or agreement for sale of residential or non-residential property transaction executed at 11 am today or thereafter that is subject to the ad valorem stamp duty at Scale 2 rates. The Government will introduce the Stamp Duty (Amendment) Bill 2023 (the Bill) into the Legislative Council to take forward the proposed adjustment. To enable property purchasers to benefit from the measure as soon as possible, the Chief Executive has made the Public Revenue Protection (Stamp Duty) Order 2023 under the Public Revenue Protection Ordinance (Cap. 120) to give full force and effect of law to the Bill before its enactment.
     Details of the above proposed tax measures and examples of tax calculations are available on the website of the Inland Revenue Department (www.ird.gov.hk) for the public’s reference. They can also be obtained through the fax hotline 2598 6001.

Hong Kong – FEHD introduces two new measures to enhance food business licensing regime

FEHD introduces two new measures to enhance food business licensing regime


     A spokesman for the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) announced today (February 17) that starting from March 1, the FEHD will implement two measures to enhance the licensing system for the food business, including the introduction of a “Professional Certification System” (PCS) as an additional option for applicants in obtaining full licences, and extensive relaxation of the existing restrictions on food items sold by light refreshment restaurants (LRRs). The aim of the measures is to benefit food business operators and customers without compromising food safety and environmental hygiene.
     According to the Food Business Regulation (Cap. 132X), any person who intends to carry on a food business is required to obtain a relevant food business licence issued by the FEHD. With a view to streamlining application procedures and shortening processing times, as well as facilitating compliance with the licensing requirements, the FEHD is introducing the PCS which will adopt an approach of “licence first, inspection later” for the issue of full licences. Under the new PCS, the FEHD will accept a Certificate of Compliance and final layout plans provided by an authorised person or a registered structural engineer as the certification for compliance with all health requirements for the issue of a full licence. After issuing the full licence, the FEHD staff will conduct on-site audit checks to confirm premises’ compliance with all health requirements.
     The spokesman said, “This enhancement measure will first be applicable to LRRs and food factories (FFs). Applicants of LRR and FF licences are free to choose between the current system (i.e. to issue a full licence upon the completion of the final on-site check by an FEHD officer) or the new PCS for the application of full licences. Subject to the smooth implementation of the PCS and support from the trade, the FEHD will consider extending the new measure to other food business licences.”
     Meanwhile, under the prevailing LRR licensing regime, licensees may only choose to sell food from one of the six specified groups of food items (please refer to the lists at www.fehd.gov.hk/english/howtoseries/forms/new/Specified_Snack_List.pdf). Given that the types of cuisine and cooking methods have become more diversified over the years, the FEHD has decided to relax the restrictions on the scope of food items that can be sold at LRRs on the premise that food safety and environmental hygiene would not be compromised. Restrictions will be imposed on the cooking methods instead. Under the new regulatory regime, an LRR can basically sell any food item. As LRRs are generally small in scale and use simple cooking equipment, they are only allowed to adopt simple cooking methods (e.g. boiling, stewing, steaming, braising and simple frying) that do not generate a large amount of greasy fumes during food preparation. Also, no cooking or food re-heating activities (e.g. hotpots, teppanyaki or Korean style barbeques) are allowed in the seating area.
     The spokesman said, “The new regulatory regime will enhance the flexibility for the operation of over 4 300 LRRs in the territory. As they are allowed to sell more types of food, members of the public will also benefit from having more choices.”
     The above-mentioned initiative will apply to all LRR licences applied after March 1. Current LRR licensees/applicants may choose to adhere to the original mode of operation, i.e. selling food items of a specified group, or they may apply to the FEHD for an amendment to the specified groups of food items on their existing licences.
     For details of the PCS and the relaxation of the restrictions on food items sold by LRRs, please visit the FEHD website (www.fehd.gov.hk).

Anti-Erosion Measures

Flood management including erosion control falls within the purview of the States. Flood management and anti-erosion schemes are formulated and implemented by concerned State Governments as per their priority. The Union Government supplements the efforts of the States by providing technical guidance and also promotional financial assistance for management of floods in critical areas. Integrated flood management approach aims at adopting judicious mix of structural and non-structural measures to provide a reasonable degree of protection against flood damages at economic cost.

To strengthen the structural measures of flood management, Ministry had implemented Flood Management Programme (FMP) during XI & XII Plan for providing Central Assistance to States for works related to flood control, anti-erosion, drainage development, anti-sea erosion, etc. which subsequently continued as a component of “Flood Management and Border Areas Programme” (FMBAP) for the period from 2017-18 to 2020-21 and further extended up to September 2022 with limited outlay.

From the State of West Bengal, 18 projects were included for central assistance under FMP component of ongoing Flood Management and Border Area Programme (FMBAP) of Ministry of Jal Shakti. The 16 completed projects have given protection to an area of around 0.937 Lakh ha and protected a population of about 2.35 million. Central assistance amounting to the tune of Rs. 1051.96 Crore has been released to the State of West Bengal under FMP. Bank protection, anti-erosion measures, river training works are also carried out by Farakka Barrage Project on River Ganga within its jurisdiction of 12.5 km upstream & 6.9 km downstream of Farakka Barrage. During last ten years, an expenditure of Rs. 165 Crores has been incurred by Farakka Barrage Project for implementing such works.

For Non structural measures, Central Water Commission (CWC) is the nodal Organisation entrusted with the task of flood forecasting & early flood warnings in the country. CWC has 16 flood forecasting stations (12 level forecasting stations and 4 inflow forecasting stations) and 80 gauge stations in the State of West Bengal. During flood season 2021 ending 31st December 2021, a total of 488 forecasts have been issued for West Bengal out of which 466 have been found to be within the accuracy limit which works out to 95.49%.

This information was given by the Minister of State, for Jal Shakti, Shri Bishweswar Tudu in a written reply in Lok Sabha today.



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