Govt reserves HK$8b 'to safeguard national security' - RTHK
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Govt reserves HK$8b 'to safeguard national security'

2021-02-24 HKT 15:49
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  • Govt reserves HK$8b 'to safeguard national security'
Timmy Sung reports
Financial Secretary Paul Chan has revealed that the government has set aside HK$8 billion for "safeguarding national security in the coming years", without giving further details.

A breakdown of the figures provided in Chan’s latest financial blueprint said the sum would go to a “special fund” for national security purposes.

An appendix said the fund is aimed at meeting the expenditure for safeguarding national security and approving the establishment of relevant posts, which are not restricted by Hong Kong laws.

The national security law was imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong last year following months of often violent anti-government unrest.

Asked about the expenditure at a press conference on Wednesday, the finance chief only repeated that the HK$8 billion would be spent "over the next couple of years", without giving a more specific time frame.

Chan also refused to disclose details of how the authorities arrived at the figure, saying only that he had discussed the issue with the relevant national security authorities.

However, he said the government would provide more information to the Legislative Council later.

Former lawmaker and a vice chairman of the Civic Party, Jeremy Tam, described the proposed allocation as "dumping money into a dark hole", saying the public has the right to know how the government plans to spend the money.

“Eight billion is quite a large amount of money, particularly in this funding you do not have any transparency. We don’t know how they are going to use it... we have absolutely no idea," he said.

“All the Hong Kong people deserve a clear answer from the government.”

Meanwhile, the police force is set to receive a 7.7 percent budget boost in the coming financial year – a year after its budget ballooned by 25 percent to fund a recruitment drive.

The government said the proposed HK$25 billion for the coming year would be spent on maintaining law and order, as well as operations to manage major security and public events and prevent illegal immigration and smuggling.

But the force said it doesn't have plans to further increase manpower this year, after adding more than 2,000 officers last year.