With confidence and clarity, Chief Executive Carrie Lam unveiled her Policy Address on 10 October. Her comprehensive and far-reaching speech was filled with proposals to deal with the most acute issues facing Hong Kong and to help create a harmonious society.
The most discussed element of the Policy Address has been the Lantau Tomorrow Vision, which sees the Chief Executive tackle the city’s land shortage head-on by creating a substantial new parcel of land for development. This has the potential to provide housing for more than a million people, which will go a very long way to relieving the acute pressure on our housing supply.
We said in our submission on Land Supply that we wanted to see a concrete action plan, and Mrs Lam has certainly delivered.
However, we believe that the project must fulfill a rigorous environmental impact assessment so that any ecological disruption is minimised. And we must also ensure that the construction is cost-effective, and that the costs are transparent.
Lantau Tomorrow will not happen overnight. So we hope that the Chief Executive’s promise to speed up studies on brownfield sites and industrial buildings will produce results sooner rather than later, to ease the problem in the short term.
Looking to external factors, the trade tensions between the United States and the Mainland threaten the well-being of the entire global economy, and Hong Kong is particularly vulnerable. So we are pleased to see both the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation’s SME Financing Guarantee Scheme and the Export Credit Insurance Corporation’s services for small businesses have been enhanced. The Government’s promise of $29 billion over 25 years regarding the abolition of MPF offsetting is also a relief for Hong Kong businesses.
The Chief Executive’s goal of increasing the participation of women in the workforce is one that we support, and we appreciate the Government’s commitment to fund the extension of maternity leave. But we do want to sound a note of caution at a time when manpower shortage is placing considerable strain on local businesses.
In fact, manpower was an issue that we had hoped the Policy Address would address. We remain hopeful that the Government will expedite its plans to deal with this urgent issue.
These are uncertain times for local businesses, but the Policy Address showed that the Government is listening to the concerns of the business community. We look forward to the continuation of this fruitful relationship working closely with our members and the Government for the benefit and prosperity of all in Hong Kong.