Chief Executive Carrie Lam delivered her Policy Address on 16 October against the backdrop of ongoing protests that began in June.
Although the Government is trying to tackle the grave challenges facing Hong Kong, the only solution to stop socioeconomic conditions from further deteriorating is to restore normalcy.
The acute shortage of homes in Hong Kong is considered a key area of discontent, affecting many citizens who cannot afford to buy or even rent a flat that will give them a reasonable standard of living.
The measures announced – include expediting the sale of affordable public housing units and easing mortgage criteria – should allow more first-time buyers to secure their own home. We also welcome the Government’s announcement to explore the redevelopment of factory estates into public housing. The plan to provide 10,000 transitional units in the next three years should also help alleviate the current shortfall.
At the same time, the Government has loosened its purse strings with the objective of improving people’s livelihoods. As well, the series of relief measures announced by the Financial Secretary in August, September and October to help SMEs weather the storm are welcomed, but we hope that more can be done to restore stability and certainty.
The ongoing demonstrations – particularly the escalating violence by radical protesters – have badly hit businesses. The whole city has been affected by the unrest, but smaller businesses have been hit particularly hard, forcing many restaurants and shops to close. Members have told me that they have had to grapple with the challenges of planning and operating under unpredictable conditions.
Financial support should help ease some of businesses’ difficulties for the short-term, but at the end of the day we need to find a cure for the problems at home. The Government should prioritize finding ways to restore normality and heal divisions as soon as possible, so that we can all start the long process of reconciliation and rebuilding Hong Kong.
To help the city move forward, and the SME community in particular, I hosted three SME forums for members to share the difficulties and pain their businesses are experiencing. The discussions provided many insights and proposals, which we will collate into our recommendations to the Government. Your input is crucial to ensure that we accurately reflect the reality on the ground for businesses. We welcome all of your suggestions to help Hong Kong businesses weather the current storm and accelerate the recovery process.