More than 18 months since the Covid-19 pandemic began, countries around the world are exploring ways to live with the virus in the long term under the “new normal.”
As an externally oriented economy, Hong Kong needs to draw up plans to address deep-rooted issues such as how to increase the supply of land and housing and promote the upward mobility of young people, while also relaunching our economy in the post-pandemic era.
Given the complexity and difficulty in reviving our economy after the pandemic, the Policy Address to be delivered by the Chief Executive next month is expected to give answers to these problems by laying out a specific roadmap with a clear timeframe.
Supporting businesses and safeguarding jobs will remain a top priority in the coming year. To inject new impetus to the city’s economic growth, the Government must step up efforts to support the business sector, attract talent from around the world, grasp the opportunities arising from the development of the Greater Bay Area (GBA), and promote Hong Kong’s integration into the overall national development.
First of all, the SAR Government and various sectors of the community should leverage the advantage of “one country, two systems” and aim at putting Hong Kong at the helm of the GBA development.
As the pandemic stabilizes in the Mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, I hope the SAR Government will lobby the Central Government to set up a two-way GBA business channel as soon as possible to allow business travellers who have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days to travel without quarantine to designated cities within the GBA.
For Hong Kong to maintain its competitiveness and enhance its business environment, more efforts are required to expand the talent pool. These should include a review of policies concerning overseas talent and issuance of a pass for foreign workers in the GBA, with a view to attracting more talent and foreign enterprises to Hong Kong.
Support for businesses should also be strengthened to help employers cope with the ongoing challenges. I welcome the Government’s recent extension of the application period of the Special 100% Guarantee Product under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme by six months. I urge the Government to also extend the application period for the “Pre-approved Principal Payment Holiday Scheme” and consider launching an enhanced interest-free loan scheme for SMEs.
Social stability, harmony and effective governance together form the cornerstone of Hong Kong’s prosperity. As long as we uphold the principle of “patriots governing Hong Kong,” properly understand our relationship with the Mainland, seize the tremendous opportunities presented by the GBA development, as well as strengthen Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre, we can certainly meet the country’s needs by leveraging all of our advantages.