CE Policy Address - Key Points

Author: Judith Huismans

This year's Policy Address contains a number of initiatives of interest to the international business community in the areas of housing and land, economic development, liveable city, labour and welfare, and health care. 

The CE also stressed the importance of the rule of law (Paras 31 and 32): 
"We will continue to steadfastly safeguard judicial independence and uphold the rule of law ... it is in everyone's interests that the rule of law remains strong, respected and visible." 

All details can be found at the following links: 

Policy Address website 
https://www.policyaddress.gov.hk/2018/eng/index.html 

Leaflet 
https://www.policyaddress.gov.hk/2018/eng/highlights.html 
https://www.policyaddress.gov.hk/2018/eng/pdf/Leaflet.pdf 

Key points 

Land and Housing 

-  Allocate more land for public housing; allocate 70% of housing units on newly developed land for public housing 
- Launch "Lantau Tomorrow Vision" to spur economic development; start a study on reclamation of a 1700ha island off East Lantau for economic development and housing for up to 1.1 million people. 
- Reactivate the revitalisation scheme for industrial buildings for social and economic needs, including for transitional housing 

Diversified Economy 

- Enhance HK's global status by signing more bilateral and multilateral agreements 
- Establish a Steering Committee to identify opportunities and co-ordinate participation in the Greater Bay Area 
- $20 billion injection to the Research Endowment Fund of Research Grants Council 
- Launch a $3 billion Research Matching Grants Scheme 
- Introduce a fellowship scheme for outstanding academics to strengthen the R&D and I&T pool in Hong Kong 
- Launch a $2 billion re-industrialisation funding scheme to set up smart production lines in HK 
- Allocate $2 billion for facilities to support the smart manufacturing sector in industrial estates 
- Increase funding support for the technology transfer offices in universities 
- Announce annual plans to open up Government data 
- Formulate tax measures to foster ship leasing business; tax concessions for marine insurance sector; $200 million additional for the Maritime and Aviation Training Fund 
- Issue first batch of virtual banking licences in 2018 or early 2019 
- Open up government premises to install 5G base stations by mobile phone operators 
- Extra $1 billion for Film Development Fund to nurture talent, enhance local film production, expand markets 
    
Liveable City 

Transport 
- Rationalise tolls for the three cross-harbour tunnels 
- Waive or pay tolls for franchised bus services to reduce fare increase pressures 
- Launch consultations on Electronic Road Pricing Pilot Scheme in Central 
- Introduce a water taxi service in the harbour (Kai Tak-Hung Hom-TST East-West Kowloon-Central) and revive the Central-Hung Hom ferry service 

Environment     
- Study feasibility of regulatory control of plastic table ware; Government to take the lead in reducing use of plastic table ware 
- Develop renewable energy sector with Government taking the lead and supporting individuals and NGOs to install renewable energy facilities 

Animal welfare 
- Amend laws to protect animal welfare; establish a "Animal Watchers Scheme" by the Police 

Labour and Welfare             

- Secure passage of legislation to abolish the MPF Scheme offsetting mechanism 
- Extend statutory maternity leave from 10 to 14 weeks, with immediate effect for all female government employees 
- Extend statutory paternity leave from 3 to 5 days as early as possible 
- Additional resources for Commission on Children 
- Strengthen support for people with disabilities 
- Allocate $500+ million to strengthen support services for ethnic minorities   
  
Healthcare 

- Strengthen primary health care by establishing the first District Health Centre in Kwai Tsing and extend the model to other districts 
- Recognise positioning of Chinese medicine in healthcare system; $500 million to promote applied research and specialisation of Chinese medicine 
- Propose to legislate a ban on the import, sale, distribution and advertising of electronic cigarettes and other new smoking products 
- Introduce free cervical cancer vaccine for school girls of a specific age group 

Nurturing Talent 

- Implement an all-graduate teaching force policy in public primary and secondary schools 
- Provide a "Life-wide Learning Grant" for public schools to help students broaden their horizons 
- Extra $800 million annually to support students with special education needs 
- Extra $570 million annually to strengthen administrative support for public and Direct Subsidy Scheme Schools