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Government Fees and Charges

83.      Government fees and charges are also a steady source of revenue. The underlying principle for fees and charges is "User Pays".

84.      The Government has frozen most fees and charges since 1998 as an exceptional measure to alleviate the financial burden on the public in times of economic difficulty. In 2000-01, when the economy was gradually picking up, the Government proposed to adjust some fees and charges which did not affect people's livelihood. However, only about 60 per cent of the fee increase proposals were eventually approved by this Council.

85.      While many people agree with the "User Pays" principle, strong objections have arisen when the Government has put forward specific proposals for fee revisions based thereon. As a result, taxpayers have increasingly had to subsidise individual users. Taking as examples visa fees and collection and disposal charges for oily waste discharged by merchant ships, taxpayers are subsidising 77 per cent and 56 per cent respectively of the cost. This is unfair to them. We should not condone the practice of saying one thing and doing another. We are duty-bound to reduce the amount of subsidies given for various fees and charges, especially those items not related to livelihood, in line with the "User Pays" principle.

86.      The Government will continue to exercise vigorous cost control to reduce the pressure for fee increases. We will seek Members?views on the revision of fees for government services. We will first deal with fees that do not directly affect people's livelihood or general business activities, such as the two examples mentioned above. As government departments endeavour to cut costs, there is room for downward adjustment of some government fees and charges as well, and we will propose to reduce them accordingly. I hope that Members will give our proposals for fee revisions a fair and objective hearing.

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2003 | Important notices
Last revision date : 10 March, 2004