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Promoting economic development 'our primary goal' says CE in Policy Address

   Promoting economic development was the primary goal for Hong Kong, the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang stressed today (October 10) in his annual Policy Address.    

    Without economic prosperity, Mr Tsang said, people could not make a decent living and all visions for future development would be empty talk.

    The Chief Executive said that he would promote economic development by pushing ahead with large-scale infrastructure projects, enhancing Hong Kong's role as a global financial centre, promoting cultural and creative industries, developing human capital and attracting talent from around the world.

    Mr Tsang pledged to push ahead with 10 major infrastructure projects that would boost connectivity with the Mainland, improve transport in Hong Kong, boost cultural and creative activities, and open up new areas for development.    

    "Infrastructure development can bring about huge economic benefits," said Mr Tsang, who delivered his first Policy Address of the Third Term Government at the Legislative Council.  

    "Both employment opportunities and wages will increase during the construction stage, and, upon completion, the infrastructure projects will boost economic activities and improve the living environment.

    "A rough estimate of the added value to our economy brought about by these projects, from commissioning to a mature stage, would be more than $100 billion annually.

    "In addition, some 250,000 jobs would be created."

    The 10 major projects are: the South Island Line; the Sha Tin to Central Link; the Tuen Mun Western Bypass and Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link; the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link; the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge; Hong Kong-Shenzhen joint development of the Lok Ma Chau Loop; Hong Kong - Shenzhen Airport co-operation; the West Kowloon Cultural District; the Kai Tak redevelopment; and New Development Areas in the northern New Territories.

    Mr Tsang said job creation was a key part of helping people to help themselves so that all sectors of society could share the fruits of economic prosperity. This, in turn, would help generate social harmony.

    Mr Tsang encouraged the creation of job opportunities at the community level through social enterprises based on collaboration between the Government, the community and the business sector.

    He also said that to remain competitive, Hong Kong's creative industries should accelerate development in the next five years.

    The Financial Secretary and the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau under his ambit would oversee a development plan for creative industries, he said.

    Mr Tsang said Hong Kong would enhance its appeal as an international convention, exhibition and tourism capital by seeking to host more mega international events.

    "To cater for longer term demand, we are exploring with Asia World-Expo (AWE) the early commencement of the phase II expansion, which will increase the AWE exhibition area to 100 000 square metres," he said.

    "We are also looking at providing additional convention and exhibition facilities in conjunction with the Trade Development Council.  We will also gauge the need for land supply for hotel development."

    To keep moving up the value-added chain, the Chief Executive stressed the importance of developing human capital and Hong Kong's role as a regional education hub.

    From 2008-09, 12 years of free education would be introduced to allow more students to enter senior secondary school or equivalent vocational training classes.

    Where appropriate, small-class teaching would also be introduced in public school Primary One classes from 2009-10.

    Mr Tsang said it was vital for Hong Kong to attract more talent from the Mainland and overseas to boost competitiveness in the international market.

    He said more sites would be made available to build new international schools, or expand existing ones.

    To allow visiting students to contribute to Hong Kong's development, employment restrictions would also be relaxed for non-local students of tertiary institutions.

    The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme would also be modified to relax restrictions on age limit and other prerequisites.

    "Such measures will enhance our status as an education hub and bring young, new and high quality talent into our population," he said.

Ends/Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Issued at HKT 13:27


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