3. While today’s Policy Address will focus on developing and mapping out Hong Kong’s future, the 202-page Policy Address Supplement also published today provides a summary, in graphic and text form, of the effectiveness of our policies over the past four years or so to give the public a comprehensive account of our work. Despite the severe and unprecedented challenges faced by the current-term Government, we have maintained the spirit of overcoming all challenges and proactively serving the people, advocating policy breakthroughs and striving to resolve society’s problems. Let me give a few examples:
- 96% of over 900 policy initiatives proposed in the past four Policy Addresses have been completed or are progressing on schedule;
- we have adhered to the philosophy of the financial centre serving the real economy and introduced measures which include the two-tiered profits tax rates regime, enhanced tax deductions for research and development expenditure, and tax concessions to attract specific industries to develop their businesses in Hong Kong; we have issued Government Green Bonds and Silver Bonds, launched a public annuity scheme and revised our listing regime to cater for the needs of new economy enterprises;
- to nurture talents and promote innovation and technology (I&T), we have increased our recurrent expenditure on education by over $13 billion and invested over $130 billion in I&T;
- we have strived to improve people’s livelihood by significantly increasing our recurrent spending on healthcare and social welfare to $95.9 billion and $105.7 billion respectively for the current financial year, an increase of 53% and 62% respectively over the past four years;
- we have introduced various initiatives on labour rights and benefits, including extending statutory paid maternity leave from 10 to 14 weeks, progressively increasing the number of statutory holidays to be on par with general holidays, substantially completing the preparatory work for the legislation for abolishing the “offsetting” arrangement under the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) system, and enhancing the employment terms and conditions of non-skilled workers engaged under government service contracts; and
- in the top priority area of housing, the Government has adopted a number of measures. These include tilting towards public housing in land allocation, establishing the housing ladder for home ownership, delinking the price of Home Ownership Scheme flats from market prices, imposing tenancy controls on subdivided units through legislation, providing cash allowances to eligible public rental housing (PRH) applicants who have been waiting for PRH for a long time, and building transitional housing units. As for land supply, a multi-pronged approach has been adopted to press ahead with the related work at full steam.
4. I must express my gratitude to the Central Government for its staunch and unfailing support for the HKSAR. My appreciation also goes to all Honourable Members here for their diligence and dedication, to the statutory bodies for their professional co-operation, as well as to the numerous government advisory committees for their suggestions and advice. I must also thank my governing team and civil servants at all levels for their hard work, as well as members of the public for their encouragement. I hope that the 2021 Policy Address delivered today will gain the recognition and support of the LegCo and the public at large.