The majority of the public support the major initiatives announced in the Chief Executive's 2001 Policy Address, particularly those relating to investment in education, job creation, infrastructure development and alleviation of people's hardship, according to a survey conducted by the Telephone Survey Research Laboratory of Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
The survey, conducted on 26-28 October, was commissioned by the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) and the results were released today (October 31).
A majority of the respondents supported the Policy Address and considered the specific policy initiatives acceptable.
The survey found that 90.3 per cent of the respondents backed the Government's plan to invest heavily in education to sustain long-term economic growth; while 81.3 per cent supported its decision to set up a $5 billion continuing education fund to help people pursue continuing education and training programmes.
The Government's initiative to recruit more native English-speaking teachers to help improve the English proficiency of primary school students was endorsed by 80.1 per cent of the respondents.
On the measures to alleviate hardship faced by different sectors of the community, the Government's plan to create over 30,000 new jobs was supported by 82 per cent of the respondents; while 87.2 per cent supported the rates rebates and 78.6 per cent supported the move to increase the mortgage interest tax deductible allowance from $100,000 to $150,000 to ease the financial pressure faced by home-owners.
On the business front, all the major initiatives announced in the Policy Address have received majority support. These include the proposed establishment of a $1.9 billion fund to enhance support for small and medium enterprises (with 76.8 per cent of respondents supporting), the investment of $600 billion in various infrastructure development projects (82.5 per cent), the investment of up to $2 billion to develop a new exhibition centre at Chek Lap Kok jointly with the Airport Authority (64.2 per cent), and the abolition of the quota system for the Hong Kong Group Tour Scheme to boost tourism (72.0 per cent).
An HAB spokesman said: "The survey reflects there is strong public support for the specific measures proposed in the Policy Address to enhance Hong Kong's business environment and competitiveness in the medium and long term. The public also supports the short term financial relief measures put forth in the Policy Address. The survey reflects that the general public is concerned about the state of the economy, but they take a relatively more optimistic view about the prospects of Hong Kong economy 12 months from now. The Government appreciates public concern about employment prospects. We will make available over 30,000 jobs as soon as possible. We are also looking into the possibility of speeding up public works projects, so as to generate economic activity and to create employment."
"We are also encouraged by the 70.3 per cent support for the proposal to invest $300 million in a "Community Investment and Inclusion Fund", which is intended to build a better society and to strengthen the community network," he added.
The survey also revealed majority support for the Chief Executive's proposal to enhance the accountability of Government (57.1 per cent supporting) and to maintain the political neutrality of the civil service (87.3 per cent), as well as the system of having a permanent civil service (57.8 per cent).
A total of 1,015 respondents had been successfully interviewed by telephone in the survey. The respondents were selected by random from the residential telephone directory.
The report of the poll has been posted on the homepage of the Home Affairs Bureau (http://www.info.gov.hk/hab/new/index_e.htm).
End/Wednesday, October 31, 2001