Litterbugs face a fine of HK$3,000 (US$382) later this year after Hong Kong’s top-level advisory body endorsed a proposal to double the penalty on Tuesday.
According to sources, the Executive Council also approved a proposed fourfold increase to fines for unauthorised shop extensions.
The Environment and Ecology Bureau plans to introduce the amendment bill to the Legislative Council in the second quarter of the year. The government expects the fine increases to be implemented in the last four months of 2023.
The proposal, presented in Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu’s maiden policy address last October, would mark the first increase in the littering fine in almost two decades.
Offences covered by the proposed HK$3,000 fine, which used to be HK$1,500, include littering and spitting in public places and country parks, fouling general areas with dog excrement, displaying posters and bills without permission and marine littering.
Those who unlawfully extend shopfronts and cause obstruction or illegally dump construction waste would also face a fixed fine of HK$6,000 under the new proposal, up from the current HK$1,500.
In a paper submitted to the legislature, the bureau said some shop owners regarded the fixed penalty as rent for the space outside their stores.
According to the authorities, more than 80 per cent of the 1,662 pieces of written feedback collected from a month-long public consultation supported increasing the fines, with about 60 per cent finding the new penalties appropriate.
The amendment bill would also authorise officers from more government departments to enforce the offence of unlawful dumping of construction waste.
The government had said in March that it would outline further law amendments by midyear, which would cover a study on a progressive penalty for the offence of illegal shop front extension following a suggestion by the city’s ombudsman.