The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong SAR) Mrs Carrie Lam, delivered her second Policy Address to the Legislative Council on Wednesday 10 October.
"The Policy Address I present today also reflects my experience since I assumed office as the Chief Executive," Mrs Lam said. "In the past year or so, my political team and I have taken a pragmatic approach to "care", "listen" and "act'; while being "innovative", "interactive" and "collaborative" in implementing our policy initiatives proactively."
Titled "Striving Ahead Rekindling Hope", the 2018 Policy Address has unveiled over 240 new initiatives which comprehensively covers such areas as good governance, housing and land, diversified economy, nurturing talent, improving people's livelihood, liveable city and connecting with young people. Building on the Hong Kong SAR's unique strengths under "One Country, Two Systems" and combining with the current-term Government's unflagging efforts since assuming office on 1 July 2017, this Policy Address carries the Chief Executive's unswerving determination in leading Hong Kong to strive forward.
In this Policy Address, housing and land supply is treated as a stand-alone chapter and is placed before the chapters on economy and people's livelihood. To help resolve the challenge of land supply shortage, the Chief Executive said the Government is determined to "identify and produce land and build a land reserve" in a resolute and persistent manner. The current-term Government will increase the ratio of public housing, allocate more land to public housing development, and undertake that 70 per cent of the housing units on the Government's newly developed land will be for public housing. The Government will also launch a new "Lantau Tomorrow Vision" to drive economic development and improve people's living quality. In this connection, the Government has decided to commence immediately a study on reclamation of a 1 700 hectares island off East Lantau for economic development and housing for up to 1.1 million people.
Amidst the unstable and fluctuating international trade environment, the Chief Executive said Hong Kong must pursue the development of a diversified economy in order to enhance its capabilities in withstanding external shocks. To advance the development of innovation and technology (I&T), the Chief Executive proposed a series of measures –
To capitalise on Hong Kong's unique strengths and the immense opportunities brought by the Belt & Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development, the Government will implement a series of measures to support and enhance the development of high value-added maritime services, which include formulating tax measures to foster ship leasing business; providing tax concessions for the marine insurance sector; supporting Hong Kong to provide dispute resolution services to the global maritime industry; injecting HK$200 million (EUR 22 million) into the Maritime and Aviation Training Fund; and further expanding our CDTA network to attract more international marine and maritime service providers to set up offices in Hong Kong.
Spurring the continued development and strengthening our capital markets are vital to cementing Hong Kong's status as an international financial centre. In this connection, the Government has adopted a five-pronged approach in facilitating Fintech development, namely promotion, facilitation, regulation, talents and funding. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) launched in September 2018 the Faster Payment System to link up banks and stored value facilities operators. It enables the public to make real-time money transfer anytime and anywhere with the use of mobile number, email address or common QR code as account proxy for the payee. The HKMA is processing the first batch of virtual banking licence applications. The licences are expected to be issued by end-2018 or early 2019 at the earliest.
To boost the development of Hong Kong's film industry in the next few years, the Chief Executive has also proposed to make a one-off injection of HK$1 billion (EUR 111 million) into the Film Development Fund to nurture talent, enhance local film production and expand markets.
As talent is the most important element in Hong Kong's continued development, and education is the key to nurturing talent, the Chief Executive said the Government will implement the all-graduate teaching force policy in public sector primary and secondary schools in the 2019/20 school year, incurring additional funding of about HK$1.5 billion (EUR 166 million); provide a "Life-wide Learning Grant" for public schools to help students broaden their horizons; give additional recurrent resources of HK$570 million (EUR 63 million) to schools to strengthen administrative support; and set aside an additional provision of HK$800 million (EUR 89 million) to support students with special educational needs.
As for the improvement of labour welfare, retirement protection tops the labour policy agenda of the current-term Government. In this regard, the Government will drive to secure the passage of the enabling legislation to abolish the 'offsetting'; arrangement under the Mandatory Provident Fund Scheme within the current term of the Government, and implement the abolition two years after the legislative amendments. The Government will enhance the support for employers and assist the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in making preparation for the change. The Government will extend the statutory maternity leave from the current 10 weeks to 14 weeks, and reimburse the additional four weeks' statutory maternity leave pay to the employers. In addition, the Government will increase the statutory paternity leave from three days to five days as early as possible.
To create a liveable city, the Government will also strive to develop a convenient transport network, a green countryside, a beautiful harbour, a sustainable environment, a heritage with historical significance, as well as quality cultural, arts, recreational and sports activities and good social order, so that people will be keen to stay in Hong Kong and make it their home. Key initiatives announced in this Policy Address include –
In her second Policy Address, Mrs Lam also emphasized that the rule of law is the most important core value of Hong Kong, and independence of the Judiciary is the key to embodying the rule of law. "We will continue to steadfastly safeguard judicial independence and uphold the rule of law. It is in everyone's interest that the rule of law remains strong, respected and visible," Mrs Lam said.
Other major measures announced in this Policy Address are set out below.
Labour and Welfare
For more information, please see the Policy Address website