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CS hails new electoral system

The fourth wave of the COVID-19 epidemic has lasted for some time. To our great relief, the number of local confirmed cases has remained at low levels in recent days. The Government's multi-pronged strategy of continuously enhancing our anti-epidemic measures and preventing the importation of cases has proven effective.   Apart from keeping social distancing measures in place and mounting an extensive promotion of testing, we have specifically strengthened the manpower in contact tracing as this is a particularly crucial measure in cutting the chains of viral transmission.   The Department of Health's Contact Tracing Office has redoubled its efforts in speeding up the process of identifying close contacts. Their sterling efforts in contact tracing in the gym cluster last month have significantly helped in suppressing rebounds within a number of days. This was a remarkable success.   For this, I must thank all those who have helped, including some 200 colleagues seconded f

Govt clarifies tax policy

The Government said Hong Kong has maintained a high level of transparency in taxation policy with a low and simple tax regime and will continue to do so.   It made the remarks in response to media enquiries on an article by the Financial Times published on March 22 carrying an interview with the Chief Secretary.   The Government stressed that Hong Kong's economic success has been built on a thriving market economy and a small government underpinned by a simple, transparent and low tax regime. Businesses and individuals in Hong Kong enjoy one of the most competitive tax systems in the world.   It pointed out that Hong Kong has always been a staunch supporter of international efforts to enhance tax transparency and combat tax evasion and money laundering.   Since 2018 Hong Kong has implemented the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development’s minimum standards against base erosion and profit shifting, and conducted automatic exchange of financial account information in tax matters with relevant jurisdictions.   Hong Kong will continue to make sustained efforts to comply with new international tax requirements according to the international consensus, including the implementation of the global minimum tax proposal to be promulgated by the organisation to address tax challenges arising from the digitalisation of the economy.   On the National People's Congress' decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Government will fully and resolutely implement "one country, two systems", administer Hong Kong according to the rule of law, safeguard the Hong Kong SAR's constitutional order as defined under the Constitution and the Basic Law, safeguard the country's sovereignty, security and development interests, and ensure the overall stability of Hong Kong.   Under “one country, two systems”, issues such as housing, land and the wealth gap are squarely within the Hong Kong SAR's high degree of autonomy.   The Chief Secretary did not say that the Hong Kong SAR Government was instructed by the Central People's Government to focus on such areas as wrongly stated in the article.   On the oath-taking of judges and civil servants, the Government said that all judges are required to take judicial oaths on the assumption of office in accordance with Article 104 of the Basic Law and the Oaths & Declarations Ordinance.   It stressed that the contents of both the judicial oath and the oath or declaration by civil servants similarly require the person taking an oath or making a declaration to uphold the Basic Law and bear allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR of the People's Republic of China. The oath taking does not intend to crack down or to purge any civil servant.   It pointed out that according to Annex I to the Basic Law, the Chief Executive shall be elected by a broadly representative Election Committee in accordance with the Basic Law and appointed by the Central People's Government, and not appointed by an election committee as wrongly stated in the article.

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