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FS' transcript on Policy Address


Following is the transcript (English part) of the Financial Secretary, Mr Antony Leung, at a stand-up media session at LegCo Building today (October 10) after the delivery of the Policy Address by the Chief Executive:

FS: The Chief Executive has just announced his Policy Address for this year. I believe this is a Policy Address that is very practical, that has set very clear directions for Hong Kong, that shares the anxiety of the people as well as setting very appropriate policies. I said it is practical because the Policy Address outlines for our people the economic problem that is facing us which is a combination of the worsening external environment as well as the economic restructuring that Hong Kong is facing. It sets out very clear directions because it asks our people to embrace change, to really strengthen our existing strong areas, to really capitalise on the opportunities in the Mainland as well as setting our eyesight on the entire world. In short, going for higher value-added activities in Hong Kong. It shares the anxiety of the people because the Chief Executive recognises the problems that our people are facing and the anxiety that is facing them. Therefore, he proposes to create short-term jobs as well as fiscal relief so that our people can face the anxiety a lot better. I said that the Policy Address has appropriate policies because it sets out in five areas how to help out people in the entire economy to move towards a higher value-added society. He placed particular emphasis on raising the manpower situation in Hong Kong, investing heavily in infrastructure, improving the business environment, improving the environment as well as enhancing the efficiency of the Government particularly in the area of manpower in all three areas , in terms of education, in terms of retraining like life-long learning as well as attracting more talents to come to Hong Kong. The Chief Executive has placed particularly emphasis on these areas. Since knowledge is the only competitive edge in a knowledge society, it is important and critical for Hong Kong to really improve its manpower situation so that we can truly become the regional financial, business, tourist and logistics hub of the region and if we can successfully do all of these, then Hong Kong's position is very bright and our position is assured.

Reporter: How would the various measures help the property market .....?

FS: We have a consistent policy on property. I believe Donald may have commented on it because it really is his policy area. But I was commenting on the measures that were intended to help the owners of assets that are suffering from negative equity. As you know, the Chief Executive has announced the desire to ask the Legislative Council to increase the allowance for mortgage interest deduction. This will help not just the people with negative equity in property, it would also actually help almost everybody in the middle class who own property.

On the other hand, as you may have known, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has just issued a guideline to the banks changing the guideline for the transfer of mortgage from one bank to another as long as it fits certain income and repayment criteria. We believe that this guideline will actually assist some banks in lowering the interest of the mortgages of those that really are suffering from negative equity.

(Please also refer to the Chinese text)

End/Wednesday, October 10, 2001


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