The Hong Kong government allocated an extra HK$5 billion to its national security “special fund” in the last financial year, an official document published on Friday has revealed.

national security education day
Hong Kong government advertisement promoting national security. File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

Citing the national security law, the document said the city’s financial secretary could appropriate “a special fund to meet the expenditure for safeguarding national security” from general government finances upon the chief executive’s approval.

The law also stated that any such allocations were “not subject to any restrictions in the relevant provisions of the laws in force” in Hong Kong.

According to the document, the extra HK5 billion was a “non-recurrent appropriation” and it was allocated in the financial year ending March 31.

After Beijing implemented the national security law in the city in mid-2020, HK$8 billion was earmarked that December for the special fund.

Government national security budget
HK$5 billion has been allocated to the city’s national security fund in the financial year ending March, 2023. Photo: GovHK, via screenshot.

When asked by reporters about the fund after delivering his 2021 budget, Financial Secretary Paul Chan refused to provide details, but said the HK$8 billion was “enough to last for a few years.”

According to an earlier report submitted to the legislature, the special fund would use its non-recurrent expenditure on “minor construction works, specialised equipment, system set-up, machinery” or other capital expenditure.

In response to HKFP’s enquiry, the Financial Secretary’s Office cited the national security law as saying that “no institution, organisation or individual in the HKSAR shall interfere with work of the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR, and “the work of the Committee shall not be subject to disclosure.”

“We therefore would not disclose the details of the special fund,” the office wrote.

Crime rate up almost 50%

The increase in the city’s national security budget came as the city’s crime rate rose by almost 50 per cent in the first quarter of this year when compared with the same period last year.

The Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu denied that police were too focused on national security concerns and were neglecting other issues when asked by a reporter in February.

For the current financial year, the government increased the police budget to HK$26.8 billion – 6 per cent higher than the previous year.

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.