Policy Address Creates Space For Our Future Development

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) welcomes the proposals laid out by Chief Executive Carrie Lam today in her second Policy Address which aim to help Hong Kong remain competitive amid a number of internal and external challenges.

Chamber Chairman Aron Harilela said: “I congratulate the Chief Executive on her comprehensive and far-sighted Policy Address, which addresses the difficulties facing Hong Kong head on with concrete proposals, and supports her goal of creating a harmonious and prosperous society for the benefit of all citizens.”

The shortage of land for homes, businesses and community facilities is one of the biggest challenges facing Hong Kong, and we are pleased that the Chief Executive has today announced a series of concrete plans to address this important issue.

“The decision to reclaim land for the Lantau Tomorrow Vision shows the Government’s clear determination to solve our city’s acute land supply problem,” said Harilela. “This plan will create a large area of land that can provide more spacious and comfortable accommodation for as many as 1 million of our citizens.”

But reclamation is necessarily a long-term project. As we point out in our submission to the Government on Land Supply, the development of brownfield sites should be prioritised. So we welcome the Chief Executive’s plan to speed up studies on brownfield sites in the New Territories.

Hong Kong has enjoyed a robust economy and strong growth in recent years. But the current trade tensions between the United States and Mainland China have created a great deal of uncertainty for local businesses.

“We have had many discussions with the Government in recent months concerning the trade tensions and we are heartened to see the commitment to supporting local businesses through the enhancement of various support measures such as the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme,” said Harilela. “The innovation and technology sector is essential for Hong Kong’s continued development as a world-class city, so we are particularly pleased to see the injection of an additional $28 billion of funding in areas including university research and reindustrialization.”

The Government’s commitment of $29 billion to support the abolition of the MPF offsetting scheme over 25 years is also welcome.

“We are pleased that the Government has listened to the concerns of the business community over the proposed abolition of the MPF offsetting scheme,” said Chamber CEO Shirley Yuen.

“This significantly relieves the burden on SMEs and reduces their concerns. We welcome the increased participation of the Government in sharing the responsibility of supporting Hong Kong people in their retirement.”

On the extension of maternity leave from 10 to 14 weeks, we appreciate the Chief Executive’s admirable goal of improving female representation in the workplace and the Government’s commitment to financially support this measure. However, we would sound a note of caution at a time when local businesses are enduring extreme and prolonged hiring difficulties.

The current manpower shortage is a major problem for businesses and we are disappointed that the Policy Address did not contain more immediate measures to address this issue as a matter of urgency. We hope that the Government will expedite its plans to tackle this key issue, as well as to remove excess regulation and red tape.

Overall, the Chamber commends the Chief Executive for her visionary Policy Address, which echoes many of HKGCC’s proposals from our submissions and meetings with the Government to improve the quality of life and social cohesion in Hong Kong. We look forward to continuing to work with Carrie Lam and her Administration to help Hong Kong prosper in the years to come.