Address: 200 initiatives, but little new funding

More than 200 new initiatives will be announced in the policy address today, but many do not involve a new funding injection amid a HK$310 billion deficit, says Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. Holding up her policy address booklet in a sky blue cover symbolizing "hope for Hong...

Sophie Hui

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

More than 200 new initiatives will be announced in the policy address today, but many do not involve a new funding injection amid a HK$310 billion deficit, says Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

Holding up her policy address booklet in a sky blue cover symbolizing "hope for Hong Kong," Lam said her annual speech would include policies promised by the central government.

Lam postponed her address just two days before the original October 14 date, saying she needed to visit Beijing to seek support in boosting the economy.

"I was not consulting Beijing on the policy address," Lam said yesterday. "I am compiling my own policy address as the chief executive of the HKSAR."

She added: "It is clear to everyone that if we want our economy to bounce back, there is no better place to tap than the mainland because other parts of the world are still struggling with the pandemic and [suffer from] high unemployment rates, economic slowdown and so on."

As the SAR government has already spent HK$310 billion on the budget and three rounds of anti-epidemic subsidies, there will be little additional funding, she said.

"We hope [to roll out] many new measures through reform, simplification [of procedures] and synergy effect, without using additional resources, to provide better services to people," Lam said.

She said she is willing to meet and hear people out.

"[If you recall] whenever there was any news about the chief executive going somewhere, there would be on social media this mobilization of the rioters to meet me," she said. "Now with the national security law, law and order has been restored I am very willing, very ready to go to meet the people of Hong Kong."

Lam will deliver her address in the Legislative Council at 11am today. She will host a press conference at 3.30pm and attend a televised forum at 7pm. Lam will also attend a radio phone-in program at 8am tomorrow.

People can read the full text of the address, its supplement and related information at www.policyaddress.gov.hk. A small quantity of leaflets will be available at the home affairs inquiry centers in the 18 districts as well as some government buildings and public libraries.

Redeveloping Tai Hang Sai Estate in Shek Kip Mei into 5,000 flats will be part of the address, sources said.

The Urban Renewal Authority and Hong Kong Settlers Housing Corp will discuss cooperation in redeveloping the 55-year-old housing estate. Some units will be used for current residents and the rest will be subsidized sale flats.

Sources added that the government will seek Legco approval of the HK$550 million funding for the first stage of the Lantau Tomorrow Vision reclamation project so it can start a 42-month initial study early next year.

It will estimate the latest cost in the study as well as the financial arrangements, including developing the project through public-private cooperation.

The address is expected to include a scheme to support young Hongkongers to work in the Greater Bay Area for a year, including in sectors like technology and finance, where they will earn HK$15,000 to HK$20,000 a month. Mainland enterprises have also expressed interest in this.

sophie.hui@singtaonewscorp.com