Wednesday, January 15, 2014

HK chief executive delivers 2nd policy address

Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung delivered Wednesday morning a policy address to the city's lawmakers and the citizens amid an ongoing public debate on procedures to elect his successor by universal suffrage in 2017.

For the second annual policy address since he was sworn in as the chief executive of the Special Administrative Region (SAR), Leung reviewed a series of policies his government introduced to cope with housing anger, poverty, aging population and cultivation of future generations.

The address, entitled "Support the Needy, Let Youth Flourish, Unleash Hong Kong's Potential", was delivered at Hong Kong's Legislative Council. Leung said the government is committed to promoting economic development, improving people's livelihood and taking forward constitutional development for more effective governance.

"We seek change while maintaining stability, adopt an appropriately proactive approach, attach importance to long-term planning and have abandoned the mindset of focusing on short-term needs," Leung said.

Over the past year, the SAR government has progressively fulfilled the pledges in his manifesto and the first policy address, taking full advantage of the opportunities in the Asia- Pacific region and the preferential treatment provided by China's central government, he noted.

"We have capitalized on the advantages of 'One Country' and ' Two Systems'. I, together with the whole government, have explored business opportunities for Hong Kong at home and abroad," Leung said, adding that Hong Kong's Economic Development Commission (EDC) , the Financial Services Development Council (FSDC) and the Consultative Committee on Economic and Trade Co-operation between Hong Kong and the Mainland are working at full speed.

Talking about housing crisis, Leung said his government is doing its utmost to increase land and housing supply in the short, medium and long terms, especially with measures which effectively curbed rising property prices. He said the government is formulating a long-term housing strategy for the first time in 15 years.

Leung highlighted his government's other endeavors last year. The SAR government reinstated the Commission on Poverty and set an official poverty line for the first time to tackle the poverty problem in the world's financial center.

The government introduced the Old Age Living Allowance to benefit more than 410,000 elderly citizens. The criteria under the Work Incentive Transport Subsidy Scheme were relaxed to help ease the travel expense burden on the working poor.

On environment issues, Leung promised that the government will allocate 11.4 billion Hong Kong dollars to replace pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles.

The SAR government released a Clean Air Plan for Hong Kong last March and started to release daily the new Air Quality Health Index from the end of last month to showcase its determination to improve air quality. The government has also started a new round of consultations on municipal solid waste charging.

To soothe local residents' discontent on public service resources, the SAR government has introduced measures such as the "zero delivery quota" policy for expectant mainland mothers whose husbands are not Hong Kong residents, export controls of baby formula and the Buyers' Stamp Duty on residential properties.

Leung said in the address that these measures have proved effective in meeting local demand first.

The SAR government formally launched last month the public consultation on the methods for selecting the chief executive in 2017 and for forming the Legislative Council in 2016. Leung said the government is moving towards universal suffrage on the basis of the Basic Law and the relevant Interpretation and Decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.