The Chief Executive delivered her second Policy Address today (October 10). All in all, the DAB feels this Policy Address to be one of “planning for the future with praiseworthy decisiveness”. We approve of this Policy Address’s focus on increasing land supply and improving the home-ownership ladder. The public, in fact, hows that the government can increase the supply of developable land within its term to resolve the long standing problem of land and housing shortages, to rekindle the people’s hope of home ownership. To achieve this, land must be made available. This Policy Address proposed comprehensive land development measures such as the “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” (LTV) large-scale land reclamation project, redrawing of brownfield sites, the launch of the “Land Sharing Pilot Scheme” and revitalisation of industrial buildings, etc. — these are all in accord with the consistent proposals put forward by the DAB and are proactive and attainable policies. The government’s long-term approach to finding land to develop and building up a land reserve shows that its policymaking is pointed in the right direction.
The Policy Address included many important policy proposals that addressed long-festering livelihood problems in addition to housing and land that are worth recognising. The DAB is happy to see that many of our proposals have been adopted in the Policy Address. These include providing subsidised in-patient and out-patient services through the Traditional Chinese medicine hospital (which is in its planning stages) and the 18 Chinese Medicine Centres for Training and Research, extending statutory maternity leave from ten to 14 weeks, extending the Old Age Living Allowance to those who have retired in Guangdong and Fujian Provinces, implementing the $2.5 billion Lift Modernisation Subsidy Scheme, constructing a new Public Market in the centre of Tung Chung, extending the statutory retirement ages for civil servants and holding a Grade Structure Review on the Disciplined Services etc.
However, even though the policies are headed in the right direction, the government should “listen closely to the people and walk a reasonable path” when they start working on the details of policies in order to ensure their smooth implementation. In its search for new land, large-scale land reclamation and redrawing of brownfield sites will inevitably impact the marine ecology, the livelihood of fishermen and those working and living in the brownfield sites. The government must provide suitable compensation, relocation, relief and related measures to minimise the policy impact on the marine ecology and various stakeholders. Similarly, even though the Policy Address allotted close to $30 billion to cancelling the MPF offset mechanism SMEs still have a lot of doubts over it. Therefore, the government must continue to listen to their concerns and help put them at ease. Making changes to the three cross harbour tunnel tolls to redistribute traffic is reasonable, but the DAB has grave reservations over doing so by greatly increasing the tolls for the Hung Hom and Easter Harbour Crossings.
Including this newly released Policy Address, the government has already introduced close to 500 new policy measures during this term. From this point forward, we hope that the Chief Executive and her team will be able to “walk together with the people”, listen closely to the people and implement policies beneficial to the people and economic development.
Media Inquiries: DAB Chairperson Councilor Starry Lee (7770 0820)