Council chairmen issue funding plea
Funding for the municipal councils should not be cut even though revenue from rates might fall, the chairmen of the two councils said yesterday.
After a meeting with Deputy Secretary for Treasury Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, Provisional Urban Council chairman Dr Ronald Leung Ding-bong and his regional counterpart Lau Wong-fat agreed rates could be cut in the economic crisis.
But they warned any reduction in the councils' funding would affect the provision of public services.
'Staff might need to be cut because 60 per cent of our expenses go on salaries and daily operations may need to be reduced,' Dr Leung said.
'Construction projects might be delayed, causing a cut in municipal facilities and services. Some can't be delayed because tendered contracts have already been signed.' Some cultural activities, such as exhibitions which helped boost tourism, might be affected.
The talks were held amid demands from the seven-party coalition for a cut in rates from the present 4.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent.
Provisional Regional Council vice-chairman Kan Chung-nin quoted Mrs Lam as saying that the administration might help to arrange money from other sources.