Chief Executive unveils inaugural Policy Address
Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, today (October 11) delivered her first Policy Address since assuming office on July 1, 2017. In the Policy Address themed "We Connect for Hope and Happiness", the Government, adopting new thinking and a new role, explained the philosophy of governance for various policies and put forward innovative measures with new perspectives to solve economic and livelihood issues of public concern.
Mrs Lam outlined her strategies to promote economic development, enhance people's livelihoods and foster a more inclusive and harmonious society under "one country, two systems".
"Everybody with a passion for Hong Kong has the responsibility to ensure that, here in Hong Kong, 'one country, two systems' advances in the right direction in Hong Kong, the obligation to say 'no' to any attempt to threaten our country's sovereignty, security and development interests, as well as the duty to nurture our next generation into citizens with a sense of national identity, an affection for Hong Kong and a sense of social responsibility," Mrs Lam said.
She identified good governance as a top priority for her political team.
"Good governance is vital, whether in discharging the responsibilities of the Government as a 'service provider' or a 'regulator', or in taking up the new roles of the Government as a 'facilitator' and a 'promoter' that I advocate," she said, adding that the Government will take concrete actions to resolve problems for the people, following the principles of being "Innovative, Interactive and Collaborative".
On developing and diversifying Hong Kong's economy, Mrs Lam unveiled a raft of measures to enhance Hong Kong's competitiveness, including:
* A two-tiered profits tax system that would lower the profits tax rate to 8.25 per cent on the first $2 million of profit;
* Plans to develop Wan Chai as a mega convention and exhibition district, with a total of some 38,000 square metres of exhibition space; and
* Sale of a number of commercial sites, including sites at the Kai Tak Development Area.
Mrs Lam said that Hong Kong would capitalise on the opportunities presented by the Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development.
She said the Government hopes to forge a comprehensive agreement with the National Development and Reform Commission by the end of this year, regarding Hong Kong’s participation in Belt and Road projects.
She also emphasised the need to diversify Hong Kong industries, in which innovation and technology (I&T) has competitive advantages and development potential. She will personally chair an internal Steering Committee on Innovation and Technology to take forward the development of I&T in Hong Kong, and to steer collaboration and participation across bureaux and departments with effect from the most senior level.
She will also ensure that the resources requirement will be met in a timely manner.
"Hong Kong has huge potential to become an international innovation and technology hub," Mrs Lam said, adding that no less than $10 billion has been set aside as university research funding.
The Chief Executive earmarked funds to enhance the learning environment and enrich Hong Kong's talent base, including:
* $12 billion to the Hostel Development Fund, to give more students the chance to experience living on campus;
* $1.2 billion to the Qualifications Framework Fund, to strengthen the Qualifications Framework (QF) through mutual recognition of qualifications so as to boost the international image and recognition of the Hong Kong QF and promote the mobility of students with recognised qualifications;
* $3 billion to the Research Endowment Fund, to provide scholarships for local students admitted to University Grants Committee-funded research postgraduate programmes; and
* $1 billion to the CreateSmart Initiative to develop design and creative industries.
On Hong Kong's land supply, Mrs Lam said the Government will continue to increase the supply of various types of land to meet the needs arising from economic development. The recently established Task Force on Land Supply will launch a public engagement exercise in the first half of 2018. On the housing policy, it will focus on home ownership and strive to build a housing ladder.
In the Policy Address, she also revealed more details about her proposed "Starter Homes" initiative for middle-class families.
To address concerns of Hong Kong's younger generation, the Chief Executive said a new Youth Development Commission would be set up in the first half of 2018.
In the next five years, the Government will strive to do its best in youth development work by addressing the concerns of young people about education, career pursuit and home ownership, and encouraging their participation in politics as well as public policy discussion and debate. To engage more young people in policymaking, the Government would allow young people to become self-recommended members in specified committees through the pilot young member self-recommendation scheme.
The Government will also strengthen support for families in financial need. Mrs Lam announced that the current Low-income Working Family Allowance Scheme will be renamed the Working Family Allowance Scheme, and be revised to increase allowances and benefit more people.
To strengthen children's welfare, the Chief Executive said she planned to set up a Commission on Children in the middle of next year that would focus on addressing children's issues as they grow.
For public transport users, the Chief Executive announced the introduction of the Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme.
She said, "We anticipate that over 2 million commuters will benefit from the scheme, which will cover the fares of MTR, franchised buses, green minibuses, ferries and trams."
To improve the liveability of Hong Kong, Mrs Lam identified various initiatives, including launching Operation Building Bright 2.0 with funding of around $3 billion to subsidise residents in maintaining their buildings, and earmarking about $2 billion to subsidise eligible owners of old composite buildings to adopt fire safety enhancement measures.
Mrs Lam also announced the setting up of a Countryside Conservation Office to co-ordinate conservation projects that promote sustainable development of remote countryside areas. She added that $1 billion has been set aside to take forward relevant conservation efforts and revitalisation works.
In order to maintain Hong Kong’s reputation as one of the safest cities in the world, Mrs Lam said the Government would strengthen Hong Kong’s counter-terrorism capability and preparedness under a new Inter-departmental Counter-terrorism Unit.
She said, "The unit will monitor the global terrorism trends and regimes on countering terrorism, review and improve counter-terrorism strategies in Hong Kong, and formulate measures and action plans in collaboration with relevant departments."
In conclusion, Mrs Lam said, "My vision is for a Hong Kong of hope and happiness - a city we are proud to call our home. I see a vibrant international metropolis that is just, civilised, safe, affluent, enjoys the rule of law, compassionate and well-governed.
As long as we can connect and achieve consensus, and capitalise on our strengths, the future of Hong Kong is bright."
Published on: 2017-10-11
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