The Government has today (January 15) released a report on "Population Policy - Strategies and Initiatives".
The report was compiled following a public engagement exercise and research carried out in 2013 and 2014 by the Steering Committee on Population Policy (SCPP) chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration.
The report includes some 50 initiatives covering the main areas of: promoting sustainable growth, unleashing the potential of the local labour force, enhancing the quality of home-grown talent, attracting talent from outside, importation of labour, fostering a supportive environment for forming and raising families, and embracing opportunities in an ageing society.
Key measures were announced by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, in his 2015 Policy Address on January 14.
Releasing the report, the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, said that with little natural resources Hong Kong relied on adequate and quality manpower to provide the major impetus for continued social and economic development.
"Our people hold the key to Hong Kong's success. That puts cultivating the younger generations high on our agenda," she said.
"At the same time, it is imperative for Hong Kong as a cosmopolitan city to recruit as many global talents as possible to join our community."
Mrs Lam said the SCPP believed that a sustainable population policy should not be geared to economic development only - it must give all citizens equal opportunities to develop and realise their full potential, and meet their aspirations for a liveable environment and quality life.
She said that as population policy straddled different policy areas, all 12 policy bureaux were involved in its planning and implementation.
"Therefore, we are linking up the population policy with other policies to achieve synergy. In other words, all policy bureaux should bear in mind the population policy objective in formulating their own policies," she said.
Mrs Lam said that while population policy covered a range of issues, the work of the SCPP had focused on issues crucial to Hong Kong's future development but which had not been thoroughly explored on other policy platforms, such as manpower shortage, skills mismatch and building up a talent pool for Hong Kong.
Major issues such as housing supply, public finance, retirement protection and elderly services were already being tackled by individual bureaux and boards and committees, she noted.
Mrs Lam said there were many different views on the future development directions and demographic structure of Hong Kong. On the One-way Permit (OWP) Scheme which attracted substantial feedback in the public engagement exercise, Mrs Lam said that given the prevalence of cross-boundary marriages, there is a continued need for the OWP Scheme to enable eligible Mainland residents to come to Hong Kong in an orderly manner for family reunion.
She said continued economic growth was necessary to resolve livelihood issues including housing, poverty, ageing society and the environment.
"While we should identify for Hong Kong sustainable economic opportunities with growth potential, we should also replenish our labour force to tackle the more immediate problems of severe manpower shortage faced by some industries and the expected shrinking workforce in the years to come," she said.
"We also acknowledge women's contribution to the family and respect older people's decision to retire early, but we also encourage them to join the labour market.
"Our intention is to open up more options for them. By enhancing support in child care, employment and other services, we hope to remove the barriers for women and the elderly to enter or stay in employment.
"This will create favourable conditions for them to keep a balance between work and personal life, without having to choose either of the two."
Mrs Lam said that in addition to nurturing local talent, Hong Kong must strive to attract entrepreneurs and professionals from around the world to set up businesses and work here to meet the grave demand for talent to support the development of high value-added industries.
She said arrangements to import construction workers should be refined to meet the needs of the construction sector.
"Most of the proposed initiatives will take time to yield effects," Mrs Lam said.
"We will also need to fine-tune these initiatives as we move along, taking into account social and economic circumstances and needs.
"Our priority in the next phase is 'full implementation, monitoring of progress, review of effectiveness, and timely adjustment'."
The full report can be accessed at www.hkpopulation.gov.hk.
Ends/Thursday, January 15, 2015
Issued at HKT 20:08