Lawmakers last night unanimously passed a motion urging reductions in transport fares to ease the economic burden on passengers. The non-binding motion, which urged the Government to encourage transport operators to reduce fares - while taking into account operating conditions - was backed by the 41 lawmakers in attendance, who voted after a three-hour debate. Major transport operators, including the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) and Kowloon Motor Bus, were non-committal on the call despite the unanimous vote. Secretary for Transport Nicholas Ng Wing-fui said any government intervention would discourage investment and affect transport development. He said the Government would encourage operators to provide more concessions, but stressed deciding on fare cuts was up to them. Moving the motion, Lau Kong-wah, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, said that fares remained high despite pay cuts for workers and deflation. Mr Lau said passengers were enraged by press reports of the generous perks for KCRC executives, which included limousines, pleasure boats and club memberships. 'The KCRC is generous to itself, but mean to people calling for a fare cut. Is that fair?' he asked. Describing the KCRC as an independent kingdom, Democrat James To Kun-sun said senior government officials were responsible for what he branded extravagant spending. DAB chairman Tsang Yok-sing, who watered down the motion to gain cross-party support, said it was time the corporations showed their concern for people's livelihood. But Miriam Lau Kin-yee, who represents the transport sector, warned that political intervention might discourage investment. The Liberal Party legislator warned passengers would end up paying more if the reductions drove the corporations into deficit. Eric Li Ka-cheung, of the Breakfast Group, said Legco should not intervene in business decisions, but said the amended motion was acceptable. KCRC chairman Yeung Kai-yin reiterated that there was pressure to raise fares. He would not be drawn on the motion, saying that would depend on how the Government responded. Kowloon Motor Bus managing director John Chan Cho-chak warned of a bleak outlook due to sluggish consumption and a drop in tourist numbers following the US terrorist attacks. Speaking earlier in Legco, Secretary for Economic Services Sandra Lee Suk-yee rejected calls to cut public utility charges across the board, despite an 8.2 per cent fall in the consumer price index. 'We should not seek to cut fares across the board just because we are in a difficult period. Unless it is a planned economy, no government should intervene in such a way,' she said. Plans by the KCRC and Mass Transit Railway Corporation to raise fares by 3.1 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively were delayed from July this year to next April following a public outcry.