Three policy secretaries and department representatives announce measures to ensure infant formula supply, at a press conference.
Measures formed to ensure formula stocks
February 01, 2013
The Government has opened a 24-hour hotline (3142 2288) to help local parents purchase infant formula, Secretary for Food & Health Dr Ko Wing-man says, adding the law will be amended to limit persons to carrying two cans of formula when they depart Hong Kong.
He announced the measures in a press conference today, with Secretary for Security TK Lai, and Secretary for Transport & Housing Prof Anthony Cheung.
Chief Executive CY Leung said in his blog the Government will implement determined measures and give priority to Hong Kong residents when there is a supply shortage of an item, such as baby formula.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam recently convened inter-departmental meetings to discuss the matter, and came up with the measures.
Order by phone
Dr Ko said local parents of children under three years old who are unable to buy seven major brands of formula can call the hotline, and the Government will refer their orders to suppliers on the same day.
The brands are Abbott, Cow & Gate, Mead Johnson, Friso, Nestle, Wyeth, and Snow Brand, he said, adding parents can order three cans every two weeks, or six cans per month for each child.
Dr Ko said deliveries can be made before the Lunar New Year holiday if parents place their order by February 3.
The Efficiency Unit has trained 200 staff to operate the hotline, and they will be able to handle 6,000 calls per hour.
He said the hotline is a short-term measure, and serves as a safety net due to supply chain failure in the market, adding the service will be stopped once normal supply is resumed.
For long-term measures, Dr Ko said the Government will amend the Import & Export (General) Regulations to prohibit the export of formula from Hong Kong, except with a permit.
He said the preliminary proposal is that each person can take two cans of formula, adding the amendments will be submitted to the Executive Council this month.
Mr Lai said the Government is very concerned about parallel trading activities hindering local mothers from buying formula.
The Customs & Excise Department and Mainland authorities will notify each other if parallel-traders are seen at cross-boundary control points. Inspections will be enhanced.
The Immigration Department has formed a watchlist of parallel traders, who will be denied entry. Two-thousand people have been denied entry since September.
Nearly 600 Mainlanders have been arrested for breaching their conditions of stay, along with 10 Hong Kong residents who employed them illegally. Ninety-two Mainlanders have been jailed for up to two months so far.
Secretary for Transport & Housing Prof Anthony Cheung said the Mass Transit Railway will implement a series of measures starting February 4.
They include lowering the passenger luggage weight limit from 32kg to 23kg for the MTR East Rail Line, conducting weight checks at Tai Po Market and Fo Tan Stations, increasing the manpower of the By-laws Inspection Unit from 39 to 59, and stepping up patrols on trains.