Finance chief cautious but optimistic about economy Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah sounded a cautious note on public spending following stock market volatility and the slowing economy in the US. Speaking at a dinner hosted by the Hong Kong Professionals and Senior Executives Association, he said stamp duty income would drop due to the recent fall in stock market transactions. He said the US economy was worsening and this would affect Hong Kong but remained cautiously optimistic about the local economy, saying the city had the mainland as a backup. Replacement of more polluting vehicles urged Lawmakers urged the government yesterday to dig deeper into its pockets to speed up the replacement of polluting vehicles in the city. The calls came after the budget had proposed introducing registration tax concessions for new vehicles meeting the Euro V emissions standard. The scheme will provide a 30 to 100 per cent tax cut - ranging from HK$8,500 to HK$78,000 - depending on the type of vehicle. It was estimated that such a programme would cost HK$26 million a year. At the legislature's environmental panel meeting, lawmakers from all major parties questioned whether the new scheme would be sufficiently attractive and effective. Group set up to promote growing 'Mice' markets An alliance group, convened by the Tourism Commission and comprising the Tourism Board, the Trade Development Council, InvestHK and overseas economic and trade offices, will be established to meet the growing demand for the 'Mice' markets - meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions. Aimed at enhancing overseas promotions, the group will meet regularly to identify 'Mice' opportunities and promote concerted marketing efforts. The Tourism Board will also set up an office called Meetings and Exhibitions Hong Kong to attract and provide support for event organisers. It will offer customised services, such as providing advice on venues and logistical support. Department nets 35 convictions The Environmental Protection Department had 35 convictions under the anti-pollution legislation last month. The heaviest fine was HK$28,000 for equipment use against permit conditions.