THE Chinese Government will increase the salaries of its civil servants this year as part of a package of measures to stamp out corruption. This was revealed by Chinese Vice President and Foreign Minister Qian Qichen yesterday, during a meeting with the pro-China group, the Liberal Democratic Federation (LDF). LDF spokesman Wong Siu-yee said Mr Qian did not divulge details of the pay rise, saying only the measures would be introduced later this year. Funding for government departments and state-owned organisations would also be increased to prevent them from exploiting undesirable methods of tapping funds. Mr Qian was reported as saying that while corruption was not necessarily taking place in fund-raising activities, the measure would at least prevent some work units from raising charges excessively. The foreign minister added that some existing practices were open to corruption and should be changed. These included the common practice of using cash instead of relying on banks. The government would take action to ensure banks would be more widely used. Mr Wong also quoted Mr Qian as saying Beijing would pay more attention to curbing smuggling and tax evasion. The new measure would avoid the use of tax collectors as middlemen by requiring taxes to be paid at designated locations. Mr Qian described Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji's economic austerity measures as relatively mild, and stressed they were not meant to put a break on economic activities. He reportedly said the measures should be good for Hong Kong investors, but he could not guarantee they would benefit those engaging in speculative activities. Mr Qian also offered reassurances that arrangements for issuing passports of the future Hong Kong Special Administrative Region would be in place before 1997.