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Innovation, youth top HK policy plan

By Luis Liu in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-12 07:48

Joining national initiatives key to future, chief executive says

Innovation and youth development were central pillars of Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's first Policy Address on Wednesday as she laid out her ambitions for the special administrative region.

Lam said she envisioned Hong Kong becoming an "international innovation and technology hub" and creating high-end jobs.

In pursuit of economic diversity, Lam encouraged the people of Hong Kong to join in the national-level Belt and Road Initiative and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development plan and take advantage of opportunities they present.

In the 33,000-word address, the words "innovation", "technology" and "technologies" appeared a total of at least 150 times, topping the list of policy-related words. Also high on the list were "young" (people/generation/talent) and "youngsters". Those words appeared 55 times in the Policy Address.

"To sustain these favorable trends for our economy, diversifying is the only solution," Lam said, adding that she believed it will not only bolster economic growth but also create quality employment opportunities for Hong Kong's young people.

For Hong Kong to catch up in the race to become an international innovation and technology hub, Lam vowed to double the gross domestic expenditures on research and development as a percent of GDP from the current 0.73 percent to 1.5 percent by 2022.

Although the figure still lags behind regional competitors - Singapore at 2.19 percent, Taiwan at 3 percent and South Korea at 4.29 percent - this is the first time Hong Kong has set its own target.

Lam also said she will personally lead an interdepartmental committee on innovation and technology to steer future development, and she announced measures such as setting aside no less than HK$10 billion ($1.3 billion) for university research funding, offering tax incentives to innovative companies and investing HK$700 million into Hong Kong's Smart City development.

Lam stressed the importance of Hong Kong's participation in the Belt and Road and Bay Area development.

She said a Bay Area development office will be set up for coordination with various government agencies.

Regarding the city's ever-escalating property prices, Lam announced a "starter homes" program to help young and first-time homebuyers get on the housing ladder. The so-called sandwich class - people who earn too much to qualify for government-subsidized apartments but still cannot afford private housing - will benefit from it.

She also vowed to expand the subsidized housing schemes for the city's public housing tenants.

The address received wide support. Lo Wai-kwok, chairman of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, said it showed Lam's determination to fulfill her promises.

Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, called it a bold commitment to improve people's livelihoods.

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce said in a news release on Wednesday that it welcomes the pragmatic and inclusive proposals.


(China Daily 10/12/2017 page6)

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