Under the double blow of social unrest and the Covid-19 outbreak, it has become very difficult for Hong Kong as a whole to move forward. Across the community, citizens hope the Government will listen to public opinion and remain committed to fulfilling its responsibilities and promises, so it can lead Hong Kong through this difficult time and help businesses grow as part of the national development.
In the face of the pandemic, many industries remain in the doldrums. Hong Kong businesses operating in the Mainland have seen a sharp drop in business due to restrictions on cross-border travel, which has led to a disruption in cash flow. Even the rounds of Anti-epidemic Fund launched by the Government may not be enough to help them stay afloat.
I have repeatedly reflected to the Government the demand from the business sector for a withdrawal of the double stamp duty on non-residential properties, and I am pleased to see the Government’s response to this appeal in the Policy Address. We hope that this measure will enable SMEs to allocate their money more efficiently to help relieve their cash flow pressure.
On promoting economic development, the Government has taken on board many of the Chamber’s proposals, such as promoting real estate investment trusts (REIT), the redevelopment of the Tai Hang Sai Estate and the introduction of the Smart City Blueprint 2.0. Overall, the Policy Address is a step in the right direction, and will have a positive impact on promoting social stability, containing the pandemic, driving economic growth and restoring livelihoods – assuming the Government will put these plans into action.
The Policy Address also included a number of measures where the SAR Government enlisted the support of the Central Government to aid Hong Kong’s recovery. For instance, recent initiatives such as the Greater Bay Area Youth Employment Scheme, the Wealth Management Connect for the financial industry, support for local businesses to access the Mainland’s “dual circulation” market, and improving the infrastructure of cross-boundary control points. These will all help Hong Kong integrate into the national development.
I hope the one-stop “GoGBA” platform, developed by the HKTDC in collaboration with relevant authorities, will be launched as soon as possible, as this will also help Hong Kong enterprises explore opportunities in the Mainland.
In the post-Covid era, the Government must leverage the experience gained in fighting the pandemic over the past year to continue strengthening Hong Kong’s hard and soft infrastructure, so that we can rise to the challenges ahead. Meanwhile, with the end of the pandemic hopefully now in sight, measures should also be drawn up to relaunch Hong Kong and set it on the road to recovery.