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Legco Powers and Privileges to Investigate Banks and Lehman Brothers Minibonds; Economic Crisis and Domestic Helpers; Corporate Help to "Clear the Air"; Operation Santa Claus Kicks Off (14 Nov 2008)


There was more fall out from the economic downturn this week as legislators discussed whether to question bankers on how they went about making sales of the Lehman Brothers minibonds. Around 300 investors in the minibonds were outside the Legislative Council building on Wednesday in advance of a debate on Raymond Ho's motion to allow a subcommittee looking into the sale of these products to impel bankers to answer its questions. The motion passed after an eight-hour debate, during which 37 legislators spoke. Most of us are affected in one way or another by the current economic crisis. That includes Hong Kong's foreign domestic helpers. Since 2003, the so-called 'maids levy', has been collected from employers who hire foreign domestic helpers and used to fund the Employees Retraining Board. Employers of domestic helpers need to pay $9,600 for each two-year contract. In the current economic downturn, calls have increased to scrap the levy completely. The government has suspended it for five years. Green group "Clear The Air", which celebrated its 11th anniversary this week, is mostly supported by individual volunteers. This week it launched a corporate clean air program to invite businesses to combat air pollution. The response was lukewarm. On Tuesday, this year's Operation Santa Claus got under way, and the cash raised will support more than a dozen charities to help the needy, including the SCMP Sichuan Reconstruction Fund.

The Pulse
Publish Date: 
Friday, November 14, 2008
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