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FS outlines fiscal consolidation plan

In the 2024-25 Budget announced today, Financial Secretary Paul Chan proposed a number of measures to increase revenue and outlined a fiscal consolidation programme which aims to restore fiscal balance in a few years’ time.   Mr Chan said even though the Government strived to reduce expenditure as the COVID-19 pandemic had subsided, the total expenditure for 2023-24 reached $727.9 billion, representing an increase of 36.9% compared with 2018-19, of which operating expenditure rose substantially by 40.2% whereas operating revenue increased only 13.1%.   On capital works, owing to the fact that the Government has been pressing ahead with land and housing supply projects, along with other infrastructure works for improving the environment and people’s livelihood, the average annual expenditure has increased from about $76 billion over the past five years to about $85 billion in 2023-24.   Fiscal reserves have dropped to the current level of $733.2 billion.   Fiscal consoli

Certificate arrangements clarified

The Transport Department today said a statement made by the Hong Kong Journalists Association yesterday on the refined arrangements for issuing the Certificate of Particulars of Vehicle was based on an erroneous interpretation of the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) judgment in June, which led to false accusations against the department.


The refined arrangements aim to state clearly the purposes of establishing the register of vehicles and specify the conditions for issuing the certificate to ensure the purpose of application conforms with the purposes of establishing the register and is lawful and legitimate, and the relevant information will only be used for the purposes as specified in the application, and will not be misused or abused.


The refined arrangements stipulate seven specified purposes for which a certificate could be issued, and the "Guidance Notes on the Applications for a Certificate of Particulars of Vehicle" provide the application procedures, the interpretation and examples of the specified purposes for which a certificate could be issued and points to note for applicants' reference.


Additionally, they have established an avenue for making applications under "exceptional circumstances".


If any people, including journalists, consider their application does not meet the specified conditions but there is a need to ascertain the registered particulars of a vehicle due to other circumstances that involve the ownership or uses of the vehicle and significant public interest, and wishes the Commissioner for Transport to give special consideration for issuance of a certificate, they may make an application under exceptional circumstances through a written submission to the commissioner.


The Transport Department also made it clear that the refined arrangements are in line with human rights protection and the spirit of the CFA judgment.


In accordance with the law, Hong Kong residents shall enjoy the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Basic Law and the relevant provisions of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR) as applied to Hong Kong, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press.


However, the department pointed out that in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Basic Law and the ICCPR, these rights and freedoms may be restricted as necessary and as prescribed by law for such justifiable reasons as the protection of national security, public order, or the rights and freedoms of others.


The right to privacy is also a basic right protected by the relevant provisions of the Basic Law and the ICCPR, it added.


The department emphasised that the refined arrangements for issuing the certificate have struck a reasonable balance among all applicable basic rights and are in line with the spirit of the Court of Final Appeal judgment.

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