Chief Executive Carrie Lam spoke to more than 700 executives at the exclusive Hong Kong Business Community Webinar on 10 December. In her speech, she explained in more detail the Government’s current ambitions laid out in her Policy Address, as well as the efforts to help businesses navigate through the current period of adversity.
The Chief Executive said that she agreed with the sentiment expressed by Chamber Chairman Peter Wong in his introduction, that Hong Kong had suffered major setbacks in the past, but had always emerged stronger.
“Resilience, perseverance and the Lion Rock Spirit are all characteristics of Hong Kong – the people and the economy. I hope you share this confidence with me and look forward to creating a brighter future.”
She added that everyone had to play their part in defeating the Covid-19 pandemic, from the Government actions to everyone following the guidelines.
“This Policy Address has been very difficult to prepare because of the prolonged period of difficulties Hong Kong has gone through since June 2019,” Lam said. In addition, there were also the U.S.-China trade tensions, and the need for fiscal restraint following the large relief packages that were rolled out in response to the pandemic.
However, Hong Kong has the support from the Central Government. The Chief Executive noted that her Policy Address had been delayed as she had gone to Beijing with a “wish list.”
“The Central Government has given us the utmost support in almost everything I have put forward,” she said.
She added that the chapter in the Policy Address about Central Government support can be seen as guideline to further measures that can be expected in the future.
Moving on to the economy, the Chief Executive said that she was looking at all of Hong Kong’s key sectors to improve the business environment.
“I am very determined we should take a more critical look at the policies: to see whether we could have more facilitating measures to help the sectors to grow; or vice versa – if there are barriers to growth for these sectors that we should try to remove.”
For example, she mentioned the dedicated offices to facilitate the approval of land development proposals, such as old industrial buildings or lease modifications. She added that while the Government had found land for housing for the next 15 years, that was not enough so it needed to press ahead with the Lantau Tomorrow Vision. This will provide not only housing but also transport, a third business district, and would be a near-zero carbon emission district.
“I look forward to the business community’s support us in this endeavor,” she said. “If we want to produce land out of this artificial island, work has to start now.”
The Chief Executive also emphasized the importance of the SAR Government’s pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, which can be achieved with cooperation and technology advancements.
“While we press ahead with development, we should do so in a very responsible, sustainable manner, to leave behind a better world for the future.”
In the Q&A session that followed, the Chief Executive answered a wide range of questions from participants on topics including Covid testing and vaccinations, regional headquarters for multinational companies, innovation and technology, and ways to restore global business confidence in the city.
This annual event, organized by HKGCC and the other business chambers in Hong Kong, is usually in the format of a luncheon, but was moved online due to the coronavirus. You can watch the full video on the Chamber’s website or app.