Landlords owed the Government $110 million in rates payments last year - 0.3 per cent up on the 1997 amount, according to the Rating and Valuation Department. Attributing the shortfall partly to the economic downturn, the department said it had received 30,000 appeals last year, compared with the yearly average of 10,000 cases. The deputy director of Rates and Valuations, Wong Chun-shiu, said the deferred rates payments accounted for about 0.9 per cent of the total number of cases. Landlords would receive bills on rates payments after the reassessment of the rateable value of their properties. Most of the residential properties benefited from a drop in the rateable value, he said. But the rateable value of properties of some corporations and public utilities had increased. This was partly due to an increase in demand for properties in some areas. It could also have occurred when the profits of a public utility had increased because the rateable value of its properties were linked to earnings. Of the tax rebates in the second quarter of the financial year, 17,000 cases had not received refunds amounting to $60 million. This was because some landlords could not be contacted. The landlords had to apply for the refunds or they would only receive them later. Mr Wong said the department had cut more than 10 clerical staff to save $3 million a year under the Enhanced Productivity Programme.