DAB's expectations for the 2023 Policy Address
September 7, 2023
Today, the DAB met with the Chief Executive to present their comprehensive "Expectations for the 2023 Policy Address" under the theme of "Revitalising the Economy and Benefiting the People". Recognising that Hong Kong finds itself at a critical stage of development, brimming with opportunities due to the new journey of national modernisation, the DAB acknowledges the manifold challenges presented by global political and economic uncertainties. In light of these circumstances, the SAR government must exhibit flexibility in its policy responses, with a keen focus on market stabilisation and the implementation of diverse measures to bolster Hong Kong's economic development. Hong Kong must continue integrating into the national development, leveraging its unique advantages to foster global connections and contribute to the overarching national development strategy. Simultaneously, it is crucial to address the concerns and expectations of the public, implementing measures that genuinely benefit the people and effectively address livelihood issues. To this end, the DAB has proposed fifteen key initiatives, totaling 88 recommendations, in the two crucial areas of revitalizing the economy and benefiting the livelihoods of the people. In the short term, we suggest addressing the confidence issues in the stock and property markets through measures like reducing the SSD and BSD. In the long term, we propose financial reforms to strengthen our position as an international financial center, promote economic diversification, and implement more proactive talent acquisition policies.
Strengthening Hong Kong's position as an international financial center is crucial for revitalizing the economy. The DAB suggests the following:
Promote the "HKD-RMB Dual Counter Model" to overseas regions engaged in RMB settlement trade, enticing them to invest their yuan-denominated funds in Hong Kong stocks.
Reduce the stamp duty on stock trading to augment the competitiveness of the Hong Kong stock market.
Promote ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) standards and certification systems applicable to various industries.
To promote economic diversification and the development of new energy, the DAB suggests the following:
Establish an e-commerce development commissioner to facilitate communication and collaboration with the mainland's relevant departments, promoting the development of e-commerce in Hong Kong.
In line with the new tourism trends, we propose promoting deep tourism, bazaar economy, and night economy. Additionally, the government should capitalise on the opportunities presented by international events hosted in Hong Kong to create a vibrant "Super Event Month”.
Actively promote the new energy transportation industry, including continuing the "One-for-One" program for electric vehicles with reduced first registration tax, and introducing electric vehicle charging equipment that complies with national standards (GB standards).
In order to actively attract and cultivate talent, we propose the following recommendations:
Increase the quota for non-local students while ensuring that the admission rate of local students remains unaffected. It should grant tertiary institutions the autonomy to apply to the University Grants Committee based on their unique circumstances.
Change the collection method for the stamp duty (beyond the second standard rate stamp duty) applicable to various talent admission programmes from "refund after collect "to "collect after exemption".
Establish a comprehensive "shortage of labour supply" list to effectively address the prevailing workforce supply and demand dynamics across diverse industries.
Given the prevailing circumstances of global and local interest rate hikes, reduced local demand, and cautious market sentiment towards the economic outlook, the DAB suggests the following in improving housing policies:
Adjust residential property stamp duty. Specifically, we recommend reverting the current uniform 15% "ad valorem stamp duty" back to the previous "double ad valorem stamp duty" system, as it stood before November 2016. (To illustrate, let us consider the scenario of a permanent resident purchasing a second property valued at 10 million. Under the 15% rate, the stamp duty payment would amount to 1.5 million. However, under the double ad valorem rate, this would reduce the fee to 750,000, and 350,000 under ad valorem stamp duty)
Implement a priority policy that exempts first-time local buyers from paying any residential stamp duty, capped at a price ceiling of 10 million.
Set a target to eliminate poor-quality subdivided units within five years.
Set the homeownership scheme supply at 15,000 per year.
Recognising the challenges posed by low birth rates and an ageing population, the DAB suggests the following:
Formulate policies to encourage childbirth, providing medical subsidies for women intending to have children. Promote a five-day workweek and flexible working hours to employers.
Expeditiously implement T21 non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) for all pregnant women receiving care in public hospitals, ensuring a risk-free prenatal screening process.
Establish a "Newborn Allowance" of HK$10,000 as a one-time grant for newborns, along with a HK$20,000 allowance for pregnant women.
To actively align with the national imperative of patriotic education, the DAB suggests the following:
Establish a dedicated Patriotic Education Coordination Committee to ensure the comprehensive implementation and support of patriotic education across all sectors of society, including families, religious groups, schools, and enterprises.
Set up a "Promoting China's Story Publishing Fund" to support the publishing industry in producing books that promote Chinese culture and embody the guiding principle of "One Country, Two Systems." This will equip Hong Kong to play a significant role in connecting with the world and narrating China's remarkable story.
Starry Lee, DAB Chairperson and LegCo member (9457 9853)