A move by a high-profile lawmaker to scrap the HK$400-a- month maid levy for good is facing strong opposition from the labor chief who claims that because the proposal will have an impact on public spending it cannot come before the legislature.
However, the claim by Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung is disputed by the proposal's backer, former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who is expected to submit the amendment - to a government bill which only suspends the levy for two years - next month.
Ip says levy proceeds go toward the Employees Retraining Board rather than to the government and it is fair game for legislators.
"According to the legal advice we have received from the Legislative Council, the levy goes into a statutory Fund, the ERB. It does not go to general revenue, so it has no charging effect in accordance with the Rules of Procedures," Ip said.
But Cheung said legislators are not allowed to table bills or amendments which would have charging effect within the meaning of rule 31(1) of the Rules of Procedures.
He said the government will try to get it ruled out of order.
Cheung said the levy funds the ERB, which will provide training for workers to cope with the financial crisis: "The impact of the financial tsunami will be huge. The retraining demand will grow in coming years," he said.