No discrimination against hotel industry on sewage charges (19/2/1998)

19 February 1998

In response to the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners' recent allegation that the hotel industry has been unfairly subjected to paying the Trade Effluent Surcharge (TES), a government spokesman said today (Thursday) that the sewage charging scheme did not discriminate against any trade or industry; nor did it give any special treatment to any trade or industry.

The TES is, at present, only levied on premises connected to the public sewerage system where trade effluent is produced in the course of one or some of the 30 trades, businesses or manufactures listed in Schedule I of the Sewage Services (Trade Effluent Surcharge) Regulation.

"The hotel industry on its own is not one of the businesses in the list. Hotels are only assessed for the proportional flow from their restaurants, laundries and bakeries, if they have such facilities," the spokesman said.

"The present system of 'mixed accounts' treats hotels with TES payable business as any other multi-use buildings having common water meters and applies the Polluter Pays Principle accordingly."

"The operation of the scheme, including the use of Chemical Oxygen Demand as the charging parameter, and the collection of charges are in accordance with the Sewage
Services Ordinance and its subsidiary regulations and the relevant Technical Memorandum," the spokesman said.

"If these TES-payable trades inside hotels are not charged, it would be unfair to other operators of similar facilities outside hotels who would continue to pay TES
and would give a commercial benefit to establishments such as restaurants within hotels.

"In fact, over 90 percent of the registered hotels do not pay TES as they only provide accommodation facilities. The basis of charging for the 50 or so hotels who do pay under the 'mixed account' arrangements has been agreed amicably and individually with each hotel affected," the spokesman added.

He said the administration had explained the details including the legality of charging "mixed accounts" to the Federation on many occasions.

The spokesman reiterated that the administration is operating within the bounds of the legislation.

End/Thursday, February 19, 1998

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