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CE's Policy Address outlines strategy to underpin economic revival and improve governance


The Chief Executive, Mr Tung Chee Hwa, has today (January 7), in his annual Policy Address, highlighted how Hong Kong can seize new opportunities to build on the current economic recovery, meet the challenges of globalisation and improve governance.

Delivering the second Policy Address of his second term, Mr Tung said he was optimistic about Hong Kong's economic prospects and expected to see a continuing decline in unemployment and an easing of deflation in 2004.

The Policy Address, 'Seizing Opportunities for Development, Promoting People-based Governance', highlighted many positive factors underpinning economic recovery, including:

* a growing Mainland economy and an improving

world economy;

* closer interaction between Hong Kong and

the Mainland and particularly Guangdong

and Shanghai

* the implementation of the Mainland and

Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership


* the development of personal renminbi business

by local banks; and

* the expansion of the Individual Visit Scheme

for Mainlanders, which will boost local


Mr Tung said Hong Kong would continue to develop and reinforce opportunities for the core industries of financial services, producer services, logistics and tourism as well as promote new growth opportunities in areas such as manufacturing, high-tech industries, creative industries, the local community economy and international asset management.

He said the Government would continue to improve the business environment.

To simplify procedures and improve regulation, the Financial Secretary will establish a new high-level body by merging and reorganising the committees under his purview.

The Financial Secretary will also head a new task force to comprehensively co-ordinate the planning and development of major infrastructure and developments projects on Lantau.

To meet the challenges of globalisation, Mr Tung said Hong Kong would continue to invest in and develop education services and promote employment and training so that members of the community could equip themselves with the skills and knowledge to find work and reach their full potential.

In particular, $1.2 billion will be set aside to implement three employment initiatives:

* 11 000 temporary positions to be extended

* the Youth Work Experience and Training Scheme

will be extended by two years, to place into

employment 10 000 people aged 15 - 24

* A one-year trial scheme will be introduced to

assist 1 000 young people become self-employed

An inter-departmental and inter-disciplinary task force will be set up to oversee the implementation of various youth training and employment programmes.

And, a Youth Sustainable Development and Employment Fund will be established to promote experimental schemes and exploit opportunities for training, placement and employment.

The Chief Executive said that over the past few months he and his colleagues had paid particular attention to keen public expectations for improved governance.

"We know that there are inadequacies, which will require a redoubling of our efforts to improve," said Mr Tung.

"We are determined to put the interests of people at the forefront of our administration.

"We will fairly and justly manage the community's different interests and points of views, thereby enhancing our policy making capabilities. We will involve a broad spectrum of society in the formulation of policies."

Mr Tung said the measures were designed to benefit Hong Kong's political stability and orderly development, economic revival and social peace and the preservation of harmonious relations with the Mainland under 'One Country, Two Systems'.

These goals would be achieved by enhancing the Principal Officials Accountability System, improving policy-making capabilities, gaining a better grasp of public sentiment, strengthening advisory and statutory bodies, reinforcing co-operation with the legislature, enhancing work in districts, attaching importance to the middle class, supporting the participation of women and carrying out a proper and serious constitutional review.

Mr Tung said the Government attached great importance to constitutional development and would strictly follow the Basic Law in handling the matter.

He said that President Hu had pointed out to him the serious concern and principled stance of the Central People's Government (CPG) towards the development of Hong Kong's political structure.

Mainland legal experts and certain individuals in Hong Kong had also expressed their views on the matter, he said.

"We definitely need to understand the full implications of these important issues, before making appropriate arrangements for the review of constitutional development," he said.

Mr Tung said he would set up a Task Force, headed by the Chief Secretary for Administration and including as members the Secretary for Justice and the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, to seriously examine the issues, particularly those concerning the understanding of relevant provisions of the Basic Law, and consult relevant authorities of the CPG.

"The Government will encourage all sectors of the community in Hong Kong to continue considering and exploring these issues rationally, as well as expressing their views, so that the relevant arrangements can be made as early as possible," he said.

Mr Tung said Hong Kong had experienced an 'extraordinary year' overcoming the SARS outbreak and dealing with the fiscal deficit.

He said the July 1 rally had clearly conveyed people's dissatisfaction with, and expectations of, the Government.

He pointed out that there had also been significant developments in Hong Kong's relationship with the Mainland, with the CPG's concern and strong support providing relief for various problems and giving new impetus to economic restructuring and recovery.

"The Government is determined to work together with the community in the days ahead to promote Hong Kong's political, economic and social development and overcome any obstacles in the process," he said.

"We share a common goal of developing ourselves into Asia's world city, a city that will be the envy of the world."

Ends/Wednesday, January 7, 2004


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