MR CHAN KIN-POR (in Cantonese): President, this year’s Policy Address has paid equal attention to the economy and people’s livelihood. For economic development, in particular, the Government has proposed a comprehensive economic plan, which includes proactively promoting the Belt and Road Initiative, implementing the New Agriculture Policy and the “re-industrialization” proposal, as well as promoting innovation and technology development.
When faced with the problems of declining competitiveness and economic slowdown in recent years, Hong Kong definitely has the pressing need to revive its economic activities. In this Policy Address, the Government has taken the initiative to fully promote economic development in many aspects, which is certainly worth supporting. To improve people’s livelihood, there are policies covering the scopes of education, poverty alleviation, elderly care, healthcare, conservation, culture and recreation to cater for the present needs of society. I hope all these measures could be implemented as soon as possible.
Concerning economic development, Hong Kong is experiencing economic difficulties. This year’s Policy Address proposes to fully take forward the Belt and Road Initiative by establishing a Belt and Road Office and setting up a steering committee for the Belt and Road, as well as actively participate in the preparatory work of the National 13th Five-Year Plan. In fact, the Belt and Road Initiative is an important turning point for China to reach out and will provide a golden opportunity for our economic development. Considering that Hong Kong is already lagging far behind other countries, we certainly cannot afford to miss these opportunities for the sake of our future generations. Therefore, I fully support the Government to proactively promote the Belt and Road Initiative and fully capitalize on opportunities offered to Hong Kong by the Initiative.
In relation to the financial sector, the Policy Address proposes to provide more resources to support the Hong Kong Financial Services Development Council (FSDC). Earlier, I have also suggested expanding the functions of the FSDC. Apart from doing research, the FSDC should also take up the work of introducing specific measures to promote the development of the financial sector. I hope that the Government will continue to consider my proposed measures. In addition, $100 million has been earmarked to implement a three-year pilot scheme for enhancing manpower training for the insurance sector and asset and wealth management sector. This is definitely conducive to the development of human resources for the local financial sector.
Promoting innovation and technology development is a policy objective that I have always supported. The Policy Address has set aside $2 billion to the Innovation and Technology Bureau to encourage universities to do more applied technology research. The Innovation and Technology Bureau will make strenuous efforts to co-ordinate the development of Hong Kong’s innovation and technology industry. The Cyberport will increase the incubation scheme quotas and allocate $200 million to launch a Cyberport Macro Fund for investment in its information and communication technology start-ups. I am glad to see that the Government is investing heavily in innovation and technology to attract domestic and foreign information technology companies and related talent to come to invest and develop in Hong Kong. I believe that the investment will generate results.
As regards other economic development policies, I am happy to see that the Government has proposed the New Agriculture Policy and put forward the “re-industrialization” proposal. It is hoped that the prevailing situation of lopsided development of industries will be rectified, and there will be a new way out for Hong Kong in addition to developing the pillar industries.
Concerning the property market, the Policy Address states that land and housing supply will be maintained. This indicates that the Government is determined to increase housing supply without changing its land and housing policy in the face of a downturn in the property market, and that it will not reduce housing supply as a result of falling property prices. I give my full support for this policy.
Regarding people’s livelihood, this year’s Policy Address provides a very comprehensive plan. For example, in healthcare, the Government has devised a Ten-year Blueprint for Hospital Development. Two hundred billion dollars will be used to implement the healthcare service plan, including construction of new hospitals, redevelopment of old hospitals, and so on. It is rather unusual to announce a blueprint for hospital development in a policy address. That shows the Government’s resolve, which is worth supporting. An increase of some 5 000 public hospital beds is vital to solve the healthcare problem brought about by an ageing population. Nonetheless, I hope the Government can face squarely the problem of shortage of beds in private hospitals.
In relation to voluntary health insurance, the Government will prepare to implement the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme, including setting the minimum requirements for insurance products, drafting standardized policy terms and conditions and planning for the migration of existing policies. I believe that the above measures are heading in the right direction, but there are grey areas as the Policy Address has not clearly specified whether health insurance would be launched through legislative means or by market agreement. I hope the Government will pay heed to the views of the industry and the public, and by way of market agreement, enable members of the public to enjoy the protection of the Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme as soon as possible.
As regards the ageing population, disclosure of cases of elderly abuse in residential care home for the elderly (RCHE) last year has aroused public concern on the service quality and safety in RCHEs. I am glad to see that the Government is determined to enhance the quality of residential services. The Policy Address states that monitoring work of RCHE and those for persons with disabilities would be strengthened, including enhancing inspection and supervision, improving the regulatory mechanism and promoting staff training. These initiatives would help to prevent recurrence of elderly abuse cases.
However, the Policy Address has failed to provide positive initiatives for youth development. No breakthrough measures have been proposed. Old concepts stated in past policy addresses such as offering scholarships are still adopted. The Government should focus on youth development as a matter of policy and conduct a comprehensive review on the education, employment, business start-up and family organizations of young people. An inter-departmental group should be set up to deal specifically with this issue, aiming to create a lot of opportunities for a large number of young people to move upward and to create a bigger middle class. If young people can engage in promoting the economic development of Hong Kong and share its fruits, there will naturally be more positive energy in our society. That is also the only way to promote the development of Hong Kong.
I so submit.