The Task Force on Population Policy (Task Force), comprising representatives of all responsible bureaus and departments, was committed to tackling the challenges arising from Hong Kong's demographic changes, the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Donald Tsang, said today (June 30).
He made the remark following the release of an updated set of Hong Kong population projections for 2004-2033 by the Census and Statistics Department.
"Before the Task Force on Population Policy published its report in February, 2003, we carefully examined the population projections and identified the major problems and challenges facing Hong Kong in our demographic trends and characteristics," Mr Tsang said.
"The Task Force then formulated a set of 33 recommendations to address the problems and challenges identified, as set out in its report released in 2003," he added.
As recommended in the task force's report, the administration reviews the implementation of the relevant decisions and programmes annually, with a view to publishing an updated report every two to three years. A review is under way in the light of the latest population projection up to 2033.
"The Census and Statistics Department's latest projections confirm that certain previously identified trends such as aging and low fertility persist," Mr Tsang said.
"I am glad that there has been appropriate follow-up action in respect of all the recommendations of the Task Force through the concerted efforts of the responsible bureaus and departments."
Examples of initiatives include the launch of the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme in October, 2003; the alignment of admission conditions for Mainland professionals and talents with those coming from elsewhere in July 2003; the granting of the same level of tax deduction for all children of a family irrespective of number as from the 2003/04 year of assessment; and identification of priority areas for promotion of active ageing by the Task Force on Active Ageing of the Elderly Commission.
"The task force appreciates that population issues are important and sensitive. These issues are almost universal in the developed world," Mr Tsang said.
"In tackling long-term challenges related to population policy, it is necessary to engage the public widely in discussing these challenges and working out possible new policies to meet these challenges.
"These new policies must have full regard for Hong Kong's long-term social and economic development, family values and the aspirations of different sectors in the community," he continued.
Looking ahead, the Chief Secretary indicated that the task force would consult the public and the Legislative Council on possible approaches to address the known challenges, as well as any new problems identified.
"To facilitate an informed public discussion, the task force will undertake in-depth studies of the challenges identified and assess their full impact on social and other policies as well as on the levels of public services," Mr Tsang said.
"In this process, the task force will encourage the public to discuss the relevant issues in an informed way and it will publish a report in 2005/2006," he added.
Ends/Wednesday, June 30, 2004