Talking Points
Timely Measures to Relaunch the Economy

Over the past year, Hong Kong’s economy and people’s livelihoods have been hit hard by the pandemic. Many businesses hope that the border will reopen as soon as possible, enabling the flow of people and trade to resume. 

As the whole world is now scrambling for vaccines, in addition to obtaining experts’ opinions and observing data, the Government can assess the safety of the various vaccines available by referring to the situation in other countries. I urge the Government to act urgently to approve vaccines for use by Hong Kong residents, and to negotiate with the Mainland on reopening the border. 

In view of this, I proposed to the relevant Central Government authorities that they launch a “vaccine passport” recognized mutually by Hong Kong and the Mainland. This would allow Hong Kong residents who have received Chinese or other approved vaccines, and proof of negative test result, to be exempted from quarantine requirements when entering the Mainland. Such a programme would allow the gradual resumption of cross-border business activities.

Besides reopening the border, at this challenging time the Government must show its determination to stand with the whole Hong Kong community, and formulate economic strategies appropriate to the changing circumstances. 

Some have suggested raising taxes on high profit-making businesses. However, I consider this would be against the simple tax regime that is key to Hong Kong’s appeal as a global business hub. It is also hard to define what constitutes a “high” profit. 

I have also called on the HKEX to suspend tightening the revenue and profit requirements for IPOs of listed companies. This can prevent disruption to fund-raising activities of businesses under the pandemic, which would deal a further blow to the financial services sector.

In the longer term, the SAR Government must further develop our pillar industries and lead Hong Kong to become a high value-added and knowledge-driven economy, to create wealth for the city and employment opportunities for our next generation. 

In fact, as Hong Kong’s industrial structure is relatively limited, we run the risk of being overtaken by neighbouring economies in terms of academic environment as well as innovation and technology research. The Government should establish a long-term land-use plan for the innovation and technology industry as soon as possible. This should include unveiling the plans for the industrial park near Heung Yuen Wai Control Point to cultivate talent, taking forward measures under the Smart City Blueprint for Hong Kong 2.0 in a timely manner.

Economic development is a pressing task for Hong Kong. The Government must act to reposition and relaunch our economy. If this issue is not properly handled, social instability and thus more conflict may be the result. The development of our next generation may also be marginalised, preventing young people from pursuing opportunities for personal and career growth.

 

Jeffrey Lam
jeffrey@jeffreylam.hk

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