With an ageing population and a declining birth rate, it is not hard to imagine that Hong Kong could soon become the number one “city of elderly” in the world. According to the latest figures released by the Census and Statistics Department, the number of elderly persons is expected to reach 2.59 million in 2066, accounting for nearly 37% of the total population. In other words, about one in every three Hong Kong people will be an elderly person. Our social burden and challenges will become increasingly greater and even more difficult to be projected accurately.
It is necessary for the Government to be well prepared for the future by rolling out sustainable retirement protection and support measures while striking a balance between the interests of different sectors of the community.
In recent months, the Government has put forward its proposal to abolish the MPF offsetting. This, however, goes against the agreement made between the Government, employers and employees when the MPF was first introduced. Employees’ retirement protection should be a shared responsibility between employers, employees and the Government, instead of shifting the entire responsibility onto employers through a temporary transitional arrangement.
In this regard, I am with the business sector and will continue to strive for a revised proposal that serves the interests of both the employers and employees.
On the other hand, rapid population ageing has driven an enormous demand for medical facilities. To address this, one effective solution would be to attract more young professionals to engage in research and development (R&D) in Hong Kong to develop high value-added services and help the city transform economically.
The Government announced the launch of the Technology Talent Admission Scheme earlier, under which the approval process for visa applications for R&D personnel from overseas and the Mainland will be reduced to as short as one month. I believe this move will stimulate the flow of talent and boost the vitality of local industries.
Furthermore, the development of the Greater Bay Area (GBA) will provide more room for cooperation in medical and elderly care services. Many Hong Kong people residing in the Mainland hope to obtain medical assistance from the Hong Kong SAR Government. With the closer tie between the GBA and Hong Kong, it would be of great help to these people if the Hong Kong Government was allowed to provide medical support services in the region. Moreover, the abundant supply of land in the Mainland may also offer a better living environment.
As the problem of an ageing population is becoming increasingly serious in Hong Kong, the SAR Government should map out a longer-term vision to ensure the sustainable development of the city. To maintain our leading position, a comprehensive population policy should be formulated and implemented, with the aim of linking issues such as the ageing population, talent development and medical policies together.