Speech at Panel on Economic Development

Amendments to subsidiary legislation under the Merchant Shipping (Safety) Ordinance (Cap. 369) for implementation of the latest requirements under the International Convention on Load Lines and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea

International maritime conventions

Mr CHAN Chun-ying enquired about the reasons for the continuous delay of incorporating the international maritime requirements in local legislation. He also raised concern if the late adoption of new requirements under the  SOLAS-IGC Code had affected the number of new gas carriers registering in Hong Kong, and the timing for completing the legislative amendments.

DSTH5 said that IMO adopted resolutions from time to time to amend the relevant international requirements so as to keep them in tandem with the new shipping technological and operational practices. The IGC Code was implemented in Hong Kong through the Merchant Shipping (Safety) (Gas Carriers) Regulations (Cap. 369Z), which was last amended in 1996. In this legislative exercise, amendments would be made to Cap. 369Z to reflect the major changes made to IGC Code in 2014. The Administration aimed to introduce the legislative amendments relating to SOLAS and Load Lines Convention into the Legislative Council in the 2017-2018 session.

On measures to address the delay in updating local legislation, DSTH5 advised that a dedicated legal team had been created in the Department of Justice to support the Transport and Housing Bureau (“THB”) and MD. In the interim, MD would take administrative measures to notify the shipping industry of the amendments concerned to facilitate compliance with such requirements by Hong Kong-registered OGVs. She also said that the Hong Kong Shipping Register had all along been providing quality ship registration services, with gross registered tonnage ranked the fourth in the world. The detention rate of ships flying the Hong Kong flag was less than 1%, which was much lower than the world average.


Competition Commission’s study on the auto-fuel market

Re-introduction of 95 RON petrol

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that 95 RON petrol was once introduced into the Hong Kong auto-fuel market in 1991, but was withdrawn by all oil companies in March 1992 after being sold in the market for less than a year. He enquired about the reasons for the withdrawal, and whether it was sold at a reasonable price as compared to that of 98 RON petrol.

Mr Rasul BUTT of the Commission responded that according to the oil companies, 95 RON petrol was withdrawn from the market because of customers’ preference on 98 RON petrol which had a better performance. The Commission was not convinced of the explanation having regard to the fact that the market share of 95 RON petrol in Singapore was over 50%. Its view was supported by the survey that more than 99% of the local petrol engine vehicles sampled could use 95 RON petrol. A consumer preference survey also found that a vast majority of the respondents indicated their likeliness to switch to a petrol with lower octane level subject to a price reduction. In this regard, the Commission recommended that the Government should consider re-introducing 95 RON petrol.

Review of tendering system for PFS sites and increase of PFS sites

Having regard to the difficulty in allocating more land for PFS use, Mr CHAN Chun-ying suggested that some large PFS sites could be divided into two or more smaller sites and allotted to different operators to drive market competition in the short-term.

DSEN responded that some PFSs were larger than others as they simultaneously supplied diesel and/or LPG apart from petrol. The Government Action – 13 – would review the status of existing PFS sites to explore the feasibility of this proposal.