Monday, June 30, 2008

西九用之如泥沙

何民傑 - 獅子山學會政策研究員, 信報(經濟企管 P.35~ 2008.6.30)

北京有一所「中國紫檀博物館」,由國內七百名著名工匠參與仿製和修復一千餘件價值昂貴紫檀家具。四川有一所「建川博物館聚落」,佔地五百畝,展館超過一萬平方米,收集抗戰和文革時期的文物。江蘇有一所「長風堂」,2004年以6930萬元收藏山水大師陸儼少的《杜甫詩意百開冊》,藏品逾六千件。浙江有一所「金輪藝術館」,擁有歷代瓷器、青銅、書畫、雜件等藏品一千多件。珠海有一所「漢東博物館」專收藏的漢代編磬,藏品比故宮博物院收藏的更珍貴。

  我不是想寫國內文化旅遊介紹,而是想告訴大家,以上提及的博物館全都是民間出資的私人博物館,或是當地富商擁有,或是中外合資,甚或是文物投資藏庫,但大都開放給公眾參觀,不用豪花公帑資助,而這類民營博物館在國內愈來愈多,吸引世界各地熱愛文物的旅客注目和觀光。

民營博物館勝公帑辦文藝

  在香港,也將會有一塊佔地四十公頃,擁世界著名作品的博物館群和表演場館,稱之為西九龍文化區。但和上述的民營博物館不同,這個尚未計算土地成本的文化區,需要在本周經立法會通過撥216億元公帑興建。練乙錚先生在本報多番分析西九顧問報告弄虛作假之可能性,這裏不作複述。在立法會議員快將進行由選民寄託的神聖表決之前,216億元公帑建現代阿房宮,是否用得其所,值得深思。

  例如西九主要的現代視覺藝術館(稱為「M+」),單是購賣館藏政府準備最初要花10億元,之後每年再花2000萬元,到2036年,M+館藏也只會有約六十二幅名畫。但政府卻估計靠這些館藏,在2036年M+每年就有二百五十萬人參觀,門票收入也可以抵銷20%開支。做生意的真金白銀去投資,當然不會做出幾十年的樂觀預算,但花公帑的,只要騙得到立法會,再多的無謂也可以蒙混過關。

  如果現實一點,與外國實際營運中的博物館比較,就可以看穿政府推算的全是謊言。例如紐約現代藝術博物館(MOMA)館藏十五萬幅視藝術作品,每年亦只有二百多萬人入場,其中一百萬人更是免費。請問政府如何以六十二幅名畫創造比十五萬幅作品更吸引人入場的成績。到時候,西九只是大白象,浪費連同土地成本共千億元公帑,無法達到預期目標,更要納稅人不斷補貼,由長官意志製造文化大煉鋼,最終文藝團體因為要迎合西九管理局的長官意志而失去創作自主。實際例子是電影基金以公帑投資拍港產片,卻要對劇本內容設諸多限制,電影人紛紛卻步。

立會通過撥款須向選民交代  其實西九的土地可以參考台北市大安森林公園,如果由文化區改成大公園,成本為216億元減到5.8億元(減少97.3%),或者可以引入幾間民營博物館,既可以成為九龍區市肺,改善空氣質素,達環保和保育效果,也無阻附近土地的發展時間表,更可以比現在西九計劃的落成時間更早完工。

  雖然西九由1999年建議興建公園,到董建華時代搞出地產連文化的新派頭,眾聲反對下又出了現在的公帑辦文藝的方案,十多年的討論已讓人感到落後陳舊。但近千億元的公共資產不是小數目,一直自喻無權無力的立法會議員,手執撥款的最後令牌,在政府解釋得不清不楚的情況下,為何在工務小組只有一票反對西九方案?其他投棄權票的是所為何事?支持者又如何向選民和納稅人交代?

  杜牧的《阿房宮賦》有這樣的唏噓:「嗟乎!一人之心,千萬人之心也。秦愛紛奢,人亦念其家。奈何取之盡錙銖,用之如泥沙!」投票贊成西九者,當以史為鑑。

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

先減稅再貼價好嗎?

施永青 [am730] 2008-06-24 M08 新聞 C觀點

鳴謝施永青先生給予轉載

國際油價飆升,除了石油出口國收入暴升外,全球各國都被高油價所衍生出來的問題弄到頭痛非常。面對這種情況,社會上出現了兩種截然不同的意見:一種是要求政府補貼油價以紓民困;另一種是讓人民面對現實,利用市場機制自行調節。

香港政府向來都行第二種政策,但近年為民請命的政客多了,加上今年立法會要改選,社會上多了很多聲音,要求政府減油稅。然而,現時的柴油稅不高,只佔零售價的5%左右,全免也幫不了運輸業多少。看來遲早有議員要求政府在價格上也予以補貼。然而,這種價格補貼政策長遠行得通嗎?

中國大陸現時行的就是補貼政策。入口油價雖高,但中國政府卻不准成品油加價。這等如要迫售成品油的公司做蝕本生意,為此,中國政府每年要花數以千億的人民幣去補償這類公司的損失。
中國政府雖然有錢,但國際油價的升勢卻愈升愈急,長此下去,政府的錢總有一天會用完,屆時,人民已習慣被照顧,更加沒有能力去面對高油價的現實。因此,最近中國也容許成品油作適量的加價,但加幅遠追不上國際油價的升幅,可見政府補貼的時間愈長,要恢復正常的難度愈大。

事實上,即使有政府補貼,亦不等如問題都可以解決。宏觀來說,人民不用受高油價之苦,就會不懂節約,無法降低需求。本來,高油價會刺激企業去開發新能源,但由於政府控制油價,企業都不願意在這方面增加投資。從這個角度來說,補貼政策無助問題的真正解決。

此外,補貼政策在微觀上也會衍生很多問題。由於成品油公司賣油愈多虧損愈大,所以都不肯多賣,賣足政府要求的配額就算了。消費者怕買不到平價油,只好一早去排隊。大陸的油站常見輪候入油的車隊,就是這個原因。要人民花費大量精神時間在排隊上,實是對社會生產力的浪費,對社會沒有好處。

此外,由於成品油的價格不能反映市場上的真正供求情況,一定會有價格更高的地下市場出現。有辦法以公價買到油的人,就可以在地下市場以高價轉售圖利。這種環境只會助長貪污,對政府建立有效的管治沒有好處。

現時,不但從事運輸業的司機會在大陸入平油,連駕車上大陸打高球的富豪也不會放過在大陸入油的機會。更大的問題是所有中國出口的商品,都在享受廉價能源的生產環境,等如全球消費者都在接受中國政府的補貼。中國真是這麼富有嗎?由此來看,補貼油價長遠並不會為一個地方帶來真正的好處。那些經常批評中國政府「家長心態」的議員,為何今次這麼熱衷要特區政府也來當「父母官」?香港人還是不要養成依賴政府的習慣為妙。

Monday, June 23, 2008

持續進修 應該自費

施永青 [am730] 2008-06-23 M06 新聞 C觀點

鳴謝施永青先生給予轉載

亞洲金融風暴後,本港經濟一度陷入衰退,失業率上升,市民叫苦連天。特區政府手足無措,唯有藥石亂投。其中一項大多數人都認同的藥方,是搞持續進修,希望藉此提升港人的技能,好讓他們能在新的經濟環境裡找到自己的生存空間。

由於原有的教育機構兼辦新課程的能力有限,政府無法在短時間裡向社會提供大量新課程,唯有動之以利,讓私營的、甚至以前未有辦過類似課程的機構,也來舉辦這類課程。為在短期裡有漂亮的數字向社會交代,政府對這類機構的監管顯得相對鬆懈。

廉署的最新個案顯示,有機構假裝辦課程,招募了一批假學生,再由這批假學生向政府申請學費補貼,齊齊把這筆錢瓜分,騙了政府300萬元。政客紛紛出來追究責任,要求政府堵塞漏洞。
我認為這300萬元的浪費只是冰山一角,更大的浪費是持續進修計劃的本身,涉及的金額數以億元計。

政客常鼓勵政府為教育作更多的撥款,美其名為社會的將來作長線投資,不是支出性的花費。但我認為,教育不單是社會的投資,更應該是個人的投資;空有社會熱心,若果參與者個人不投入,這筆花費很難產生應有的作用。

現時由政府推動的持續進修課程,少則學生可以申請貸款來交學費,多則學生只要有上課就可以取回學費,部分課程,學生不但不用交學費,甚至可以領取生活補貼。難怪很多政治團體都紛紛主辦這類課程,一方面可以拿政府的錢來派街坊,乘機籠絡選民;另一方面還可以賺錢補貼政黨經費(政府的津貼已預留合理利潤)。由於立法會內的政黨很多都是得益者,所以他們都支持這類花費。

現實是報讀這類課程的,很多都是家庭主婦,她們只著意領取生活津貼,卻無意出社會工作。亦有一部分報讀者是新畢業的學生,他們在社會上一時未找到工作,為了向家長及朋輩有所交代,只好讀完一個課程又報讀另一個課程。

政府花了這許多錢,唯一的功能是紓緩了當時的社會矛盾,至於能否真正提升港人的競爭能力,我就不敢寄予厚望。現今香港的失業率已經下降,社會是否還值得花這麼多的錢去做這類門面工夫,很值得重新檢討。

騙學費津貼事件曝光後,社會輿論只一味要求教育局及勞工福利局加強監管,這只會花費更多公帑。我認為最有效的監督方法是交由消費者全方位進行。前提是想持續進修者要自己付費。這樣,他們不但會監督辦學機構,更重要的是自己會主動學習。由此而產生的社會成效,一定不會比由政府撥款差。

副局長物超所值

王弼 - 獅子山學會行政總監 , 信報 ( 經濟.企管 P.35 , 2008.6.23)

副局長事件擾攘了數星期,由最初的雙重國籍問題,發展到政府是否任人為親,個別官員是否籍此建立個人勢力等。姑勿論香港人對這次政治任命認同與否,事件米已成炊,第一階段的爭議可謂告一段落,看來反對派如要繼續攻擊,還是密切留意政治新貴們的工作表現吧!

  這事件本不屬獅子山學會討論的範疇,但因事情牽涉香港智庫的所謂「錢途」問題、以年輕人從政在社會的認受性,又特首辦主任陳德霖稱年輕政治人才沒有市價,整個事件與市場甚至香港的移民政策亦不無關係。作為由年輕人組成的智庫,本學會也巧合地處身在這市場中,故此可以第一身角度分析這事件,這難得的機會,豈可錯過?

不應限制國籍

  首先,在雙重國籍的議題上,作為以個人自由主義(Libertarianism)(註)為信念的智庫,我們對有雙重國籍的副局長或政治助理是沒有異議的,要用人唯才,而不任人為親,就應放開門戶之見,所以反對派一方面希望政府不任人為親,一方面又不讓副局長們擁雙重國籍,邏輯上是不成立的。獅子山學會既支持香港有開放的移民政策——就是不論種族、膚色、性別、宗教,只要有才能,又有僱主聘用的,這人便應可留港工作,那麼副局長這工作崗位亦不應受到歧視。但如此一來,局長甚至是特首,亦是否可由外籍人士擔任?

  其實亦無不可。從戰國時代秦國任用客卿如商鞅、李斯等奠下統一基業,到拿破崙本身為反抗法國統治的科西嘉島(Corsica)獨立鬥士最後成為法國皇帝,到腐朽如晚清政府也委任「英夷」戈登(Charles George Gordon)為將領以剿太平天國。這幾個人都身繫居住國的榮辱,對當國的重要性比香港的各局長、甚至特首都高得多。

  坦白說,香港作為中國的一個城市(哪怕是最大的金融中心),其局長又可對整個中國作出什麼傷害?美國民眾會擔心紐約市政府的某主要官員因擁有雙重國籍而損害美國利益嗎?反而如能開明地接納外國人擔任主要官員,強調我們有容乃大的精神,接納外國人的不同思維,這更有助中國繼續改革開放,與國際接軌。如果政府當初能以此為理據,提出由立法會檢討放寬基本法對外國人擔任主要官員的限制,政府即可反客為主。可以預料,反對派(甚至是保皇派)不會讓這法案通過,但責任卻歸到他們的頭上,如此一石二鳥、借力打力之計,政府怎會想不出,還是顧慮太多?政治從來都不是請客食飯,往往是兵行險,看來真正的政治家還未在香港出現呢!

年齡歧視

  至於陳智遠以二十八歲之齡當上月入十三萬的政治助理之爭議,我們也要為他說一句公道話。香港何時變得如此年齡歧視?年輕便沒有能力嗎?三十三歲的周瑜以數萬水軍擊破老謀心算的曹操(五十三歲)的二十多萬大軍,那時孫權才二十六歲吧!

  其實,副局長和政治助理們有能力與否,現在還不能判斷,社會又何妨給他們一個機會?要知世事如棋,每年6000萬元的公帑既已覆水難收,我們又何妨不以一點阿Q精神看這事情?《戰國策》裏便有〈求千里馬〉這樣一個故事:有一個國君,想以千金買千里馬,卻三年也沒買到。有一個太監毛遂自薦,終於在三個月後以五百金買到千里馬的骨骸,氣得國君七竅生煙,太監卻不慌不忙的說:「死馬都肯以五百金來收買,何況活馬呢?天下必認為大王求馬若渴,活馬馬上就要來了。」果然一年不到,便來了三匹千里馬。如此看來,每年6000萬元,還是物超所值呢!

Monday, June 16, 2008

從中港電訊市場改革論競爭

黃健明 - 獅子山學會經濟研究員 , 信報 ( 經濟.企管 P.33 , 2008.6.16)

工業和訊息化部、國家發展和改革委員會及財政部聯合發布《關於深化電訊體制改革的通告》,「鼓勵」內地六個電訊集團重組成三個兼有固定及移動網絡的電訊集團,落實市場預期已久的新一輪電訊業改革。

「規劃」競爭 徒勞無功  

中國跟大部分國家一樣,電訊市場本來就由政府部門壟斷,及後幾經政府或出資成立、或按地域及業務分拆,才因而出現中移動(941)、聯通(762)和網通(906)等數個較大的電訊集團。

  先是分拆、繼而現在又重新整合,可是即使政府把幾個電訊業經營者有如積木般拆拆合合,致力「科學合理設計電訊競爭架構」,對於「形成適度、健康的市場競爭格局」(《通告》用語)的進展似乎仍然乏善足陳。

  究其原因,監管部門在精心規劃市場結構的同時,對於開放價格競爭、市場進入方面卻進度遲緩。中央政府對於內地電訊服務收費的管制,直至2005年才由全面收費管制放寬為管上不管下的收費上限管制。《通告》明言未來只會發放三張第三代移動通訊的牌照,明顯為此次重組的三個電訊集團「度身訂造」,完全無意開放進入市場的大門。

開放市場競爭之源

  香港的電訊市場,原本也是由電訊盈科(008)的前身香港電訊以專營權方式壟斷,其後才逐步開放。首先是本地固網電話市場,香港電訊的專營權於1995年屆滿後,政府便以增發牌照的方式打破壟斷,加入三個新經營者。現時政府已經全面開放本地固網電話市場,全無發牌數目限制。

  本地固網電話從來是「蝕本貨」,電訊市場開放之前,香港電訊是以對外電訊服務——即長途電話的收入補貼,因此消費者較難感受開放市場帶來的變化。畢竟,競爭不是目的,而是增進效率、降低價格的手段,要是服務本身早已無利可圖,即為市場「製造」激烈競爭、多增幾個競爭者,社會、消費者亦無所得益。不過,開放市場帶來的潛在競爭,對於避免現存經營者「任意妄為」仍然重要。

  相對而言,開放長途電話市場的影響顯而易見。政府在開放長途電話市場時,較本地固網市場更為進取,決定以67億元補償,於1998年提早結束香港電訊本於2006年才屆滿的長途電話專營權,並隨即宣布不設發牌上限。根據電訊管理局的《對外電訊市場開放十周年回顧與展望》,開放長途電話市場僅僅四年,消費者因而節省的支出估計高達255億元,遠高於政府作出的補償、維持法定壟斷所得的30億元專營稅,以及香港電訊因壟斷長途電話而對本地電話的30億元補貼,社會及消費者因而「淨賺」超過百億元。

  當然,中港電訊市場改革涉及很多其他技術性安排,可是兩地政策方向的差異卻是明顯不過。內地嘗試以行政「規劃」競爭,動作頻繁、東併西湊,重組結果其實卻只如路透社顧蔚所言:「政府是最大贏家」。香港政府當年開放電訊,未敢大言「設計」、「規劃」,只是透過打破市場進入限制,把低效、厚利的市場置於無數唯利是圖的經營者面前(現在香港便有過百個長途電話經營者),卻又實實在在使社會及消費者得益。

  從兩地電訊改革經驗可知,開放市場才是促進競爭之源。政府、「專家」以《競爭法》等工具直接規劃市場結構、企業行為,嘗試置市場競爭於政府計劃之中,結果未知是否如內地電訊市場重組一般,消費者其利未見,反而變成「政府是最大贏家」。

Friday, June 13, 2008

Congrats to LRI on The Road to Serfdom

Lion Rock put the Hong Kong in Hayek and...

"Congratulations! Your title has been recommended in the book list for the coming HK Book Fair 2008. There may be a Press Conference to announce the opening of the Book Fair together with the relevant book activity."

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Exchange with the Government on Competition Law

See LRIs Exchange with the Government in the South China Morning Post.

"Obstacle course

A proposed law will probably discourage business competition, rather than protect it Dan Ryan
SCMP May 29, 2008

Earlier this month the government released its much-anticipated report on its proposal to introduce a cross-sector competition law. Those looking for a compelling rationale for why we need such a law will be left scratching their heads. Not only does the report contain some glaring omissions, but it also reveals a basic misunderstanding about the nature of competition itself.

The report claims to be based on sound economics yet not one single economist is cited in the whole 57-page document. Any intellectually honest exercise would have at least taken account of the host of economists who think that competition laws make no sense. These include Alan Greenspan, Nobel-prize winners Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, and Ronald Coarse, as well as other leading economists like Thomas Sowell and William Baumol. Which economists is the government relying on to support its claims that the competition law it is proposing is right for Hong Kong? The report does not say.

You will also search in vain in the report for any type of cost-benefit analysis on the proposed competition law. The report makes speculative and unsubstantiated claims about the supposed benefits of introducing the new regulator but ignores or downplays the very real costs to the economy. The only clear statement about costs in the report is that the annual budget for the new regulator will be at least HK$86 million. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. The more significant costs are the regulatory risks and compliance and legal fees that all Hong Kong businesses will face under the proposed regime. Such costs will inevitably and regrettably have to be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices and a less diverse range of goods. Where is the hard evidence that such additional regulatory burdens and costs will actually result in a net benefit to the Hong Kong economy as a whole? Again, the report does not say.

Most significantly (and frankly embarrassingly) is the fact that nowhere in the report do the authors actually define what they mean by "competition". Surely, you say, a report which cost the government more than HK$16 million to produce and which takes competition as its core subject matter must have defined the term somewhere? Sorry to disappoint, folks. It's just not there.

The absence of a definition of competition is troubling when you actually consider that the focus of the law is to give the regulator wide-ranging powers to take action against businesses which engage in conduct that supposedly "substantially lessens competition". One might reasonably ask - if the term "competition" itself is not defined - how does the regulator know whether some form of business behaviour substantially lessens it? "Oh, leave it to us," they say. "We will decide what is competitive and what is not". Such a vague law with such arbitrary powers of enforcement would make Robert Mugabe blush. There are concerns in some legal circles that giving a regulator such dramatic powers over the private sector may infringe the Basic Law.

The absence of a definition of competition also points to a deeper misunderstanding in the report. Competition, properly defined, has nothing to do with the behaviour of particular market participants. Rather, it is where there is the potential for a new market participant to compete for the consumers who are currently buying their goods and services from one or more market participants.

Hong Kong has traditionally understood that competition is only reduced when government restricts market entry of new competitors through tariffs, arbitrary licensing schemes or overly complicated government regulation which favours incumbents and outright bans on competitors. This is why, instead of introducing a competition law, Hong Kong has focused instead on ensuring that in most industries there is an open market. The message is clear - to create competition, create an open market.

In an open market - where there is no government restriction on a new competitor entering - all that happens if companies agree to jointly raise prices or submit similar bids is that an opportunity is created for a new competitor to steal customers away by offering a lower price or win the tender by submitting a lower bid.

Most Hong Kong businesses understand this instinctively. All that a competition regulator would do is penalise honest commercial operators and turn legitimate business competition into legal disputes. Who wants that?

The proposed law would also do nothing to open up those few industries in Hong Kong in which new competitors are prohibited, for example gambling.

Plans to introduce such a massive change on the basis of such a deeply flawed report should be of concern to all Hong Kong businesses and consumers. Those of us who oppose the proposed competition law are not against competition. We believe instead that this proposal is unnecessary regulation of the economy and a bad arbitrary law that would actually reduce competition and threaten Hong Kong's hard-won economic success.

Dan Ryan is a director of The Lion Rock Institute"-SCMP

Jonathan McKinley, the secretary for commerce and economic development, replied to LRI in "Hong Kong people clearly think a competition law is needed," printed in the SCMP on Jun 03, 2008

Mr. McKinley wrote that the government defined competition in the 2006 public discussion document,"Promoting Competition - Maintaining our Economic Drive". He went on to mention that consultations showed the local community supported competition law. We would argue that since the government and their statutory bodies don't know exactly what such a law encompasses, the public probably hasn't been well educated about it either. Mr. McKinley continued to disagree with LRI, supposedly citing factual errors in LRIs article, first targeting the quote LRI made on the annual budget for the proposed competition commission and the total cost of consultation paper. Indeed, the SCMP has listed in Jimmy Cheung's "HK$245m consultancy bill raises eyebrows" dated April 9, 2008, that the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau did commission the law firm Arcully, Fong & Ng and Gilbert + Tobin to advise on the introduction of a competition law, at a cost of more than HK$16 million. Straight from Gilbert + Tobin, the Detailed Proposals are a distillation of a series of reports that the firms were commissioned to do.

LRIs response to the Government: "Public finds competition law confusing
Jun 07, 2008

I refer to the letter by Jonathan McKinley, for the secretary for commerce and economic development ("Hong Kong people clearly think a competition law is needed", June 3). Mr McKinley alleges I have my facts wrong in my article ("Obstacle course", May 29) where I criticised the government's proposal for a competition law regulator.

He claims I am incorrect when I state that the competition law consultation paper "cost the government more than HK$16 million" to produce.

I refer Mr McKinley to the article ("HK$245m consultancy bill raises eyebrows - many studies overlapped, legislators learn", April 9), which said: "The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau commissioned the law firm Arculli, Fong & Ng and Australian firm Gilbert and Tobin to advise on the introduction of a competition law, at a cost of more than HK$16 million."

He also alleges I am incorrect when I claim that the annual costs of the new competition regulator would be "at least HK$86 million".

I refer Mr McKinley to the government's own website (http://news.gov. hk/en/category/businessandfinance/080506/html/080506en03001.htm), where it states that the competition commission would require an annual budget of up to HK$80 million "and the initial cost of operating the [competition] tribunal would be about [HK]$6 million a year".

Does Mr McKinley still dispute the figures I cited in my article? If so, he has an obligation to inform the public clearly what the full costs have been and will be, including the indirect compliance costs which will be imposed on Hong Kong businesses.

His letter also does not respond to the broader questions in my article, including why the government has ignored the host of prestigious economists who think a competition law does not make sense and why there has been no hard evidence that the proposed regulator will bring a net gain to Hong Kong.

Mr McKinley says he speaks for the people of Hong Kong on this plan for the introduction of this new regulator. But no vote has been taken on this issue and our own surveys to date indicate that the public is confused about the issue and sceptical of the government's plans.

It has every right to be. The muddle the government has got itself into on this issue is apparent from its very response to my article, which I stand by.

Dan Ryan, director, The Lion Rock Institute" -SCMP

Friday, June 6, 2008

Lion Rock co-hosted the Pacific Rim Policy Conference Exchange



Insights from Pac Rim - An amazing conference bringing together the brightest thinkers from all over Asia.

http://pacrimpolicyexchange.com/index.php

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tiandao Lecture Series co sponsored by LRI, APEC, and CATO







Lion Rock, APEC, CATO and Tiandao co-hosted a lecture series for students, hosting outstanding faculty to examine the foundations of social and political order and applying them to a wide array of public policy issues.



Pictures can also be viewed from APECs website:
http://www.fb.cityu.edu.hk/albums/PhotoAlbum.cfm?type=&album=ef/Seminar/2008/0602%20-%20CATO%20Lecture%20Series

Monday, June 2, 2008

醫療改革須先檢討開支

何民傑、王弼 ~ 獅子山學會政策研究員、獅子山學會行政總監 (信報 - 經濟.企管 P. 36, 2008.6.2)

政府的醫療融資諮詢進行了近三個月,食物及衞生局局長周一嶽稱當局已收到八百份意見書,又說其中大部分認同本港的醫療制度需要改革,使市民可以得到更全面的醫療及更大保障。原來周局長看過了八百份意見書,能歸納出的結論就是這些彈了不下百遍的老調,食物及生局的效率可見一斑,也難怪當局遇到難題時就只有打市民荷包的主意了。

  沒錯,看見醫療融資報告的封面,大家會聯想到什麼?一隻竭力攤開的手掌、手心朝天,一幅留下買路錢的模樣;未細看內容,政府已不經意地流露出起老實不客氣的神態,而它打市民荷包的形象亦躍然紙上。

  誠如前任食物及衞生局局長楊永強所言,錢並非從天降下,政府每年用2000多億元,一分一毫都是從香港市民辛勤勞苦所得的,剛交過稅又趕要填今年度報稅表的納稅人就更加感同身受。至於公帑用在哪裏,怎樣使用最有效益,就非政府首要責任莫屬。

  在詳細討論強醫金前,讓我們先作一個比喻作為引子:如果政府預期香港的賊人會愈來愈多,警員將會不敷應用,所以每位市民便要向政府繳交一份「強警金」,又或者因為在秋天時香港山火特別多,消防車可能不夠用,就要市民齊齊供一份「強消金」。相信大家都會認為,提出這些意見的人是傻的,但政府希望市民將來每個月都要供的強醫金,就是用這個傻兮兮的邏輯所推論出來。

無必要強迫市民八折支薪

  政府在醫療改革諮詢文件明示,香港在2033年就很可能滿街病人,所以市民便要每個月先供5%的強醫金,待幾十年後用。獅子山學會一直反對開徵這一類強制性的另類稅金,有眾多民間團體(如納稅人權益團體107動力)亦在這幾個月發起多次「不要八折出糧,反對強醫金」的行動,其理據如下:市民現在每個月供款5%工資的強積金,加上本來僱員可自由運用的另外5%的僱主供款,實際上市民已是九折支薪。倘若再加上政府提議的5%強醫金;而外國經驗是這類強制性供款只會愈來愈多,如新加坡的中央公積金(CPF)供款達總薪酬約四成;不要忘記政府數年前提出的銷售稅(GST)又不知什麼時候捲土重來,最終市民要八折支薪絕對不足為奇;再把薪俸稅算進在內,一般市民一年便有三至四個月的工資上繳政府,那香港還可以稱為低稅率城市嗎?恐怕屆時低稅率只是富豪與大企業的專利。

  究竟香港將來是否一定是滿街病人呢?美國和加拿大在多年前已經面對出生率低的問題,但他們有效利用移民和入境政策,一直將人口結構維持在平衡的發展,這當然值得香港參考;加上我們有巨額財政儲備,政府根本無必要強迫小市民八折出糧。

  更加重要的是,這份文件全篇幅都是要求市民付出,但是供款怎樣運用,怎樣增家公營醫療體系營運效率就沒有提出,只講收入,不講開支,讓誰當老闆都不可能接受。作為香港政府老闆的香港市民就更加要問問,每年300多億元的公共醫療開支,在醫療事故接踵而來的情況下,是否真的用得其所。

醫管局開支八成多是薪酬

  只要細看醫管局開支的研究報告,就發現原來醫管局的開支中有八成多都是薪酬,而且人手編制是一貫的肥上瘦下,醫管局主席和總監的年薪比特首還要高,顧問和副顧問醫生的薪酬就用了40多億元,藥物器材的開支只是30億元,但是醫管局還說藥物太貴,以至有些病人病無所醫,究竟人的工資重要?還是人命重要?

  要市民八折支薪,請政府先管好醫管局的賬目!