The Chamber welcomes the Chief Executive’s maiden Policy Address delivered on 19 October, which consisted of a raft of fresh plans to target the challenges Hong Kong faces, from attracting talent and enterprises to tackling the issue of housing and land supply.
Notable among the wide range of strategies announced by John Lee were the establishment of the Hong Kong Investment Corporation Limited (HKIC) and the HK$30 billion Co-Investment Fund, which will serve to boost the development of important industries while attracting international businesses to our shores.
Also of significance was the introduction of the Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises (OASES) and the Talent Service Unit, which will assist in the implementation of policies. The creation of special teams utilizing the Government’s Economic and Trade Offices around the world, as well as in the Mainland, will enhance Hong Kong’s competitiveness and spearhead the efforts to recruit talent and attract enterprises.
The Government has adopted a broad approach to foster the city’s workforce through the enhancement of employment schemes and regulations currently in place. Initiatives such as the new Top Talent Pass Scheme will hopefully encourage and make it more convenient for new arrivals who seek to live and work in Hong Kong.
The Chief Executive put a lot of emphasis on resolving our land and housing shortage, and we are pleased that several of the solutions listed in our Policy Address Submission to the Government, including shortening the waiting time for public housing, better affordability and increasing supply, were incorporated into plan.
Special note must be made of the Government’s ambition to transform the city into a world-renowned hub for innovation and technology (I&T), bolstered by a HK$10 billion scheme to fund research and development in universities.
We also commend the move to install more RMB-denominated investment tools as well as stable and efficient treasury services, including foreign exchange and interest rate risk management instruments in the market. Coupled with green financing, carbon trading and mutual market access arrangements, and the provision of tax exemptions to eligible family offices to set up or expand operations, these strategies will help strengthen Hong Kong’s position as a global financial centre and fundraising platform.
Importantly, the Government also plans to roll out much-needed support for SMEs, such as raising the BUD Fund ceiling and providing government fee concessions. The city’s convention and exhibition sector will receive a boost, thanks to a new incentive scheme where more than 200 exhibitions will be staged over three years.
While the bold strategies to revive the economy are to be applauded, we cannot help but be disappointed that Covid-related social restrictions and the “0+3” quarantine scheme for visitors have no indication of being rescinded. Hong Kong needs the Government to lift all pandemic-related restrictions so that the city can reap the maximum benefit from this new chapter of development that the Chief Executive has drafted.