Old guard give 2-can export limit short shrift
Colleen Lee, Tony Cheung in Beijing, and Danny Mok
Hong Kong's former security and customs chiefs both hope the two-can export limit on infant formula will be temporary.
New National People's Congress deputy Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, former secretary for security, and new Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference delegate Timothy Tong Hin-ming, former customs and excise commissioner, spoke out in Beijing yesterday on the sidelines of the plenary sessions.
Lee - who like Tong has also served as head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption - said: "I hope it will be a temporary measure. When there is no shortage of supply, it should be reviewed."
With the daily limit set at 1.8kg, Lee added: "The restriction is a very tough measure.
"Many Hong Kong people work in the tourism industry. Positioned as a free port, such a measure should be introduced only when necessary."
Tong said: "Limiting exports is inconsistent with the traditional concept of trade. It should be a temporary measure."
The limit has been introduced to prevent shortages as mainlanders seek to ensure they avoid feeding their babies tainted products by buying powdered milk sourced in Hong Kong.
Asked if the multiple-entry permit scheme for individual mainland tourists should be suspended in an effort to curb parallel-goods trading, Lee said he hoped Hong Kong could remain an open city that welcomed travellers.
New World Development chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun, who was also in Beijing as a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told reporters that limiting the multi-entry permit would not solve Hong Kong's problems.
But he went on to acknowledge it was the government's responsibility to prevent abuses, including discouraging mainland woman giving birth in local hospitals, and parallel goods trading.
Meanwhile, Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said he was very concerned about a rebound in the number of mainland women giving birth in Hong Kong's emergency departments last month.
There were 34 such cases, although five had made reservations for obstetric services in local hospitals.
The bureau said it would work with law enforcement officers to investigate each case.
In January there were 22 emergency deliveries, with one having a place reserved for obstetric services.