Govt to unveil low-cost flat plan soon: sources

Sources say the government will next week announce a pilot scheme to let charities run more than 300 low-cost flats to be rented out to needy families.

The idea was first floated in July by the Transport and Housing Secretary, Frank Chan, who said that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) could operate government-approved subdivided flats.

But the sources told RTHK that instead of dividing the flats into small units, residents taking part in the scheme will live in the same flat and share the living room and bathroom.

It’s understood that the government hopes that more property owners will rent out their flats to be used in this way.

 

http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1354114-20170914.htm

Retail sales in Hong Kong see highest growth in over two years thanks to local consumption

A stock market boom and rising property prices in July prompted Hong Kong retail sales to grow at their fastest rate in more than two years, potentially spelling the end of a years-long downturn.

 

July sales jumped 4 per cent compared with the same period last year, significantly higher than the 0.1 per cent growth in the previous month, government statistics revealed on Tuesday.

Industry insiders attributed the stronger-than-expected growth to robust local consumption and improved inbound tourism, and expected the trend to continue in the second half of the year with support of a stable labour market.

 

“We are overjoyed at the July figure. The growth is much better than we have expected,” Thomson Cheng Wai-hung, chairman at Retail Management Association said on Tuesday.

He expected the full-year growth to hit 1 per cent, despite the 0.6 per cent decline in the first half.

This would put an end to a two-year contraction of the city’s once-booming industry, as big-spending mainland shoppers flew elsewhere to buy luxuries.

Retail sales in the city dropped for 25 consecutive months until a mild rebound in March.

Cheng said local consumers were a main driver for the upbeat figure, as they felt more comfortable spending money on big-tickets items, with their wealth boosted by the rising value of stocks and properties.

 

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/2108798/retail-sales-hong-kong-see-highest-rise-over-two-years-thanks

SAR residents to get improved access to mainland

The official Xinhua news agency says Beijing is looking at making it easier for Hong Kong and Macau residents to live on the mainland. President Xi Jinping has already called for such measures, and the move comes as Chief Executive Carrie Lam ended her four-day visit to the capital.

Xinhua said people from Hong Kong and Macau, who work on the mainland, will get equal rights to housing provident funds so they can buy homes and settle there. Currently, mainlanders put part of their salaries into such funds – along with a contribution from their employers – so they can get low interest home loans and other benefits.

Beijing also wants Hong Kong and Macau residents to be eligible for social security, if they are working or studying across the border. It said the Ministry of Education will ensure equal opportunities for students from the SARs to receive compulsory education.

Universities would also try to help Hong Kong and Macau students deal with the red tape they often face when trying to find a job on the mainland.

Another inconvenience faced by SAR residents – not being able to use their Return Homeland Passes at self-service ticket machines at train stations – is also being looked at.

 

http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1347326-20170810.htm

Lam Cheuk-ting urges govt access for online media

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting has urged Chief Executive Carrie Lam to follow through on her campaign pledge to grant online media access to government functions.

Currently, these outlets are barred from official press conferences and cannot access the government’s news system.

“So many Hong Kong people get their information or read the news from online media, so I think the government should have let all the online media have the right to interview government officials,” he said.

He told RTHK’s Jennifer Leung that the government could also consult the Hong Kong Journalists Association to define which online media should be allowed to attend government press conferences.

 

http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1344760-20170727.htm

Govt ‘declaring war’ on HK people: opposition

The Democratic Party on Friday accused the government of “declaring war” on pan-democratic lawmakers and the people of Hong Kong, following the disqualification of another four legislators over their oath-taking.

The party’s chairman, Wu Chi-wai, said the rights of lawmakers to express their views in Legco could be restricted, if rules on filibustering are tightened now that pan-democratic lawmakers have lost their veto power.

He warned that the “One Country, Two Systems” principle could be adversely affected, as the Beijing and Hong Kong governments can do whatever they want now.

His colleague James To said the four “are still the ones chosen by the people”.

People Power lawmaker Raymond Chan said Hong Kong people, including those who did not vote for the latest legislators to be disqualified, will not agree with the government for using the courts as a “tool” to overturn election results.

Hong Kong First lawmaker Claudia Mo, who broke down in tears during a media briefing, claimed the government’s action was “calculated”, as it wants to make sure the pan-democratic camp will not win back all the seats it has lost in upcoming by-elections.

Leung Kwok-hung said he and the other three affected by Friday’s court ruling, Nathan Law, Lau Siu-lai and Edward Yiu, all intend to appeal over their cases.

They have been given two weeks to clear their Legco offices.

 

http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1342155-20170714.htm

House Committee chair seeks less filibustering

The chairwoman of the Legislative Council’s House Committee, Starry Lee, says the legislature did not run as smoothly as she hoped in the past year, partly due to the opposition’s filibustering.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday to conclude the committee’s work in the past legislative year, Ms Lee also said chaos created by the oath-taking controversy surrounding Youngspiration localists Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching had also slowed down Legco’s work.

Looking ahead, the DAB legislator said she hopes lawmakers and the government will work together to improve their relationship, which has been “tense” in recent years.

“I hope that with the new administration, with better communication, things can be smoother,” said Lee.

But the vice-chairman of the house committee, the Civic Party’s Dennis Kwok, rebuffed Ms Lee’s criticism of the pan-democrats’ filibustering.

He said legislators must spend time scrutinizing large funding requests and complex bills.

Referring to the reasons for filibustering, Kwok said, “sometimes it’s about blocking the wrong piece of legislation, or blocking the wrong piece of public work that shouldn’t cost the Hong Kong people so much.”

Kwok said he had spoken to the Chief Secretary about filibustering and Matthew Cheung understood his explanation that legislation is becoming more complex.

Kwok said that the effectiveness of Legco’s work must be judged in its larger context.

“Overall, I think that the Legislative Council is doing its job,” Kwok added.

http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1341497-20170711.htm

Hong Kong market gains, Tencent bounces back

Hong Kong stocks ended higher on Wednesday, recovering some of the previous day’s sharp losses with technology giant Tencent edging up, although traders remain on edge over North Korea tensions.

The Hang Seng Index rose 0.5 percent, to 25,521.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.8 percent, to 3,207 while the Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on the mainland’s second exchange, rose 0.9 percent, to 1,913.

In Japan, stocks rebounded, though nervous investors continue to keep close track of soaring tensions in Asia. The benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.3 percent, to 20,081.

Seoul also added 0.3 percent and Singapore jumped 0.8 percent. Sydney finished 0.4 percent off while Wellington and Jakarta also edged down.

Asian tech firms saw some much needed buying after suffering a recent sell-off. Hong Kong-listed Tencent edged up from Tuesday’s fall of more than 4 percent, while AAC Technologies also bounced and Sony jumped 0.8 percent in Tokyo. (AFP)

http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1340294-20170705.htm