Mr YUEN Mo (Chairman of the 52nd terms of office) September 2022
The new Policy Address should aim at achieving good governance and guiding Hong Kong to better development by leveraging the central government’s support.
In about a month, the Chief Executive will be delivering his first Policy Address after he took office. In our opinion, the focus of the new Policy Address should be on implementing President Xi’s “four expectations” for Hong Kong’s development. To this end, it should set pragmatic objectives, and target to strengthen Hong Kong’s overall competitiveness, to resolve deep-seated social problems, and to enhance governance for more effective policy implementation. It is equally important to continue lobbying for the resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland, and capturing the immense opportunities presented by the country’s development in the new era.
A governance system should keep pace with the times
In his important speech delivered on July 1, President Xi stressed that the HKSAR government should further improve its governance. In the four tenets of vision outlined in his election manifesto, current Chief Executive John Lee also gave priority to “strengthen our governance capability and tackle pressing livelihood issues together”.
The new administration should rid itself of the passé mindset of “positive non-interventionism”, draw in professional talents from outside the government, improve coordination, and streamline policy implementation procedures. It should also improve the consultation framework to better gauge public sentiments, and work more closely with professional sectors to ensure policies are targeting the right spots.
All-round alignment with the development of the Greater Bay Area
To cope with changes in the global political and economic landscape, the new Policy Address must lay down long-term policy plans aimed at consolidating the development of industries in which Hong Kong enjoys a competitive edge. The city should capitalize on its role as a core engine for the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area) to actively participate in domestic circulation and facilitate international circulation. Under the existing Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) framework, the Policy Address can offer greater policy support to help Hong Kong businesses invest and operate in the Mainland, and promote the further expansion of Hong Kong’s professional services in the Greater Bay Area and other markets in the Mainland.
Hong Kong should actively strengthen cooperation with Shenzhen in the field of innovation and technology, speed up the construction of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop, and attract leading companies to set up in the Northern Metropolis to address the “14th Five-Year” Plan’s demand for strategic emerging industries. The HKSAR government should also develop a more open talent admission system to attract technological talents from around the world to work and settle in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, we hope to see the Policy Address introduce a more aggressive strategy to consolidate and enhance Hong Kong’s status as an international financial center comprehensively. For instance, the Hong Kong authorities can liaise with the Mainland on the possible establishment of a “Primary Connect” to attract companies registered in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and surrounding regions to list in Hong Kong. Hong Kong should also follow the direction of low-carbon and green finance in China by promoting more green securities, credit insurance, and energy-saving and emission-reduction investment and financing businesses.
Improving people’s livelihood and accelerating the resumption of quarantine-free travel with the Mainland
It is beyond question that the Policy Address should make strenuous efforts to resolve deep-seated problems in society through targeted measures. For example, a multi-pronged approach is necessary to increase the supply of land and housing; support and training for young people should be strengthened to help them overcome challenges in getting education and employment, starting businesses, and buying their own homes; and a comprehensive policy is needed to address poverty alleviation and elderly care, with more aid required for the business sector and social welfare organizations to run related services.
To put Hong Kong’s economy back on a positive growth trend, the authorities will need to keep the epidemic under control and resume normal customs clearance with the Mainland as soon as possible. We recommend that the HKSAR government explore with the Mainland the possibility of implementing a “one place, two epidemic control measures” arrangement in the Lok Ma Chau Loop and cross-border quarantine exemption arrangements within the Greater Bay Area, aligning nucleic acid testing standards and epidemic prevention measures, and differentiating between high, medium and low risk areas to allow travel in low risk areas with only a negative nucleic acid test result under closed loop management.
In summary, the new Policy Address should aim at achieving good governance and guiding Hong Kong to better development by leveraging the central government’s support and coming up with proactive and pragmatic policy measures.