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Tsang calls in auditor over 'suite life' spending

Eddie Luk

Thursday, April 26, 2012

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The director of audit has promised to complete within a month a review on just how much the chief executive should spend on hotels while on official overseas visits.

Benjamin Tang Kwok-bun also pledged that if there are no clear rules that govern such expenses "we will study how to introduced such rules."

If such rules are in place, his office will study how to revamp them.

The director was asked to make the review by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who has come under fire for what some claim was lavish spending while touring New Zealand, Chile and Brazil - including a one-night stay at the presidential suite of the Royal Tulip Brasilia Alvorada in Brazil, which cost taxpayers around US$6,900 (HK$53,820).

The review comes as Tsang is considering an invitation from the Japanese government to visit areas hit by the earthquake and tsunami in March last year. Earlier this year, Tsang admitted accepting trips on the private jets and yachts of tycoons but insisted he paid the market price.

Speaking after the opening ceremony of the historic Lui Seng Chun building in Mong Kok yesterday, Tsang defended the spending, saying it complied with laid-down procedures.

He said his office selects accommodation based on his needs to fulfil the mission for such overseas visits.

"I have heard the opinions of lawmakers, citizens and the media," Tsang said. "I have already asked my colleagues to study if improvements can be made on the procedures of selecting accommodation."

The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said that staff from the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office based in Washington visited Brazil and the Chilean capital Santiago last December and again in March before Tsang made the South American tour.

The bureau said they mainly discussed the arrangements for Tsang's visit and spent a total of US$98,054 on air tickets.

An independent committee led by retired chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang is studying if the chief executive should also be subject to Independent Commission Against Corruption and civil service rules governing the conduct of public servants.


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