HONG KONG (Reuters) - The following are highlights of the maiden policy address of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Wednesday as she laid out a blueprint of her government’s priorities in the coming five years.
- Say “no” to any attempt to threaten country’s (China’s) sovereignty, security and development interests
- Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area development will bring enormous opportunities for Hong Kong’s economy
- The government last went into deficit in 2003-04 and now fiscal reserves are in excess of HK$1,000 billion.
- Hong Kong grew by 4.0 percent in real terms year-on-year in the first two quarters, with unemployment dropping to 3.1 percent in recent months, the lowest level in two decades
- Overall economic growth in 2017 is expected to be higher than 3.5 percent
Innovation and Technology
- The government will step up efforts in research and development, expanding talent pool, venture capital, legislation reviews, and I&T development
- The government has set a goal to double the Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product from the current 0.73 percent to 1.5 percent within the current-term government’s five-year tenure
- On the two-tier profits tax system, the profits tax rate for the first HK$2 million of profits of enterprises will be lowered to 8.25 percent, or half of the standard profits tax rate
- Profits above that amount will continue to be subject to the standard tax rate of 16.5 percent
- To step up efforts to increase the supply of housing units
- Seek to shorten the waiting time for public rental housing and increase supply of flats under the home ownership scheme.
- Proposes to introduce affordable “Starter Homes” for middle-class families in Hong Kong
- Land for “Starter Homes” to come from sites already owned by private developers or to be bought from the government
- Provisions in land leases to require developers to pursue mixed developments, to build and offer for sale a specified number of “Starter Homes” units in addition to private housing units to target buyers who meet the eligibility criteria
Education and talents
- Increase education expenditure by HK$5 billion a year
- Appoint more young people to government committees, with the aim of increasing the overall ratio of youth members to 15 percent within the current-term government
- Recruit young people in policy research units so that the voices of young people can be heard at senior levels of the government
Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Michael Perry