With the new Chief Executive John Lee and his cabinet taking office this month, there are high hopes that the new administration – comprising three Department Secretaries and 15 Bureau Directors – will thoroughly implement its plan for “result-oriented” governance during the five-year tenure.
As the pandemic has intensified global competition for talent and resources, enhancing Hong Kong’s overall sustainable competitiveness is a matter of utmost urgency.
According to the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2022, published by the Swiss International Institute for Management Development, Hong Kong ranked fifth among some 60 economies, up from seventh last year but still down from its second spot in 2019. Singapore, in third place this year, remains the most competitive economy in Asia.
It is generally accepted that there is a lagging effect with such surveys, so this report may not fully reflect the tsunami-like impact of the fifth wave of the pandemic on the city’s economy. As such, the new Government cannot afford to be complacent. Instead, it should make every effort to boost economic recovery, further cut red tape and improve the business environment.
In my opinion, the new Government should prioritise enhancing Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre, and telling a positive Hong Kong story worldwide.
The motion I proposed at the Legislative Council in mid-June to consolidate and strengthen Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre was passed with the support of fellow councillors – reflecting that various political parties are agreed on the issue. The new administration must respond to the call with concrete action.
To move forward for a better future, the free flow of people, goods, capital and information is indispensable. Hong Kong is now competing with Singapore’s relatively relaxed anti-epidemic policies and aggressive talent recruitment initiatives. To catch up in the race for talent, the new Government must review related policies as soon as possible to attract and retain talent in different sectors, and to prevent businesses from suffering a loss of both talent and capital.
As the flow of people and trade is fundamental to the flow of capital in and out of the city, the resumption of quarantine-free travel with the Mainland and the normal flow of people from around the world is of top priority. To achieve this, the new Government must continue to keep the epidemic under control by continuing to guard against the importation of cases and the resurgence of domestic infections.
The principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong” has been fully implemented across the executive and legislative branches. I hope that under the leadership of the new Chief Executive, the new Government will continue to engage in constructive discussions with the business community.
Meanwhile, in the first six months, efforts should be made in three areas: stabilising the pandemic situation, reviewing the talent policy, and enhancing Hong Kong’s status as an international financial centre – so that our city can return to steady progress.