CE outlines new strategies for economic development

     The Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, has today (October 14) in his annual Policy Address set out strategies for Hong Kong to break new ground in economic development and sustainable growth.

     Mr Tsang also laid out his vision to improve the quality of life in Hong Kong, including major projects in Central, and unveiled new measures to promote family values as well as help the elderly and other vulnerable groups.   

     "We are entering a new era, but we need not worry about the new competitive landscape.  With an open mind, pioneering spirit, and full preparation, we can break new ground together," Mr Tsang said in his Policy Address entitled "Breaking New Ground Together"

     Mr Tsang said the global economic crisis had underscored the need for Hong Kong to diversify its economic base in areas that complemented the traditional pillar industries of financial services, tourism, trade and logistics and professionals services.

     He announced new initiatives to develop six industries where Hong Kong enjoyed clear advantages: education services, medical services, testing and certification services, environmental industries, innovation and technology, and cultural and creative industries.

     This included a package of measures to optimise land use by releasing the potential of over 1,000 old industrial buildings.

     Owners will be encouraged to revitalise or convert their existing industrial buildings for use by the six industries.

     "With appropriate policies to remove obstacles to their development, the six industries will enter a new phase of development, propelling Hong Kong towards a knowledge-based economy," said Mr Tsang.

     Mr Tsang set out his vision to enhance Central's appeal as a vibrant district for business and entertainment.

     This includes opening up public space at the Central Ferry Piers site, converting the Central Market into an "urban oasis", preserving the Central Government Offices Main and East Wings, implementing the Central Police Station project, recommending the conversion of Murray Building into a hotel, and the development of a creative industries cluster on the original site of the Central School.

     "The idea of conserving Central is premised on our respect for the history of the district," he said.

     "We endeavour to strike a balance between protecting the environment and providing quality space, which is a growing public concern, and relieving the shortage of office space in the city centre."        

     Mr Tsang identified several new challenges for Hong Kong including promoting stronger regional co-operation and maintaining Hong Kong's status as a global financial centre.

     He said Hong Kong should collaborate with Shanghai in developing the countryˇ¦s financial services industry, adding that competition between the two cities was not a "zero-sum game".

     "As a prime global financial centre in the Asian time zone, Hong Kong enjoys many advantages, including a highly open and internationalised market, a regulatory regime aligned with major overseas markets, the rule of law, and the free flow of information and capital," Mr Tsang said.

     To promote Hong Kong-Taiwan co-operation, Mr Tsang said greater emphasis would be placed on developing relations through the establishment of a Hong Kong-Taiwan Economic and Cultural Co-operation and Promotion Council and the setting up of a multi-functional office in Taiwan.

     He also said Hong Kong would strengthen co-operation with Guangdong Province under the Outline of the Plan for the Reform and Development of the Pearl River Delta announced in January.

     He said the two governments were also formulating a framework agreement for Hong Kong-Guangdong co-operation.

     Identifying family values and elderly care as cornerstones of a progressive society, the Chief Executive pledged to provide additional support for vulnerable members of the community.

     He said the Family Council would launch a Happy Family Campaign to promote core family values and encourage the public to build a happy family environment.

     The Chief Executive said this would help to tackle social problems such as youth drug abuse, prostitution and neglect of children and the elderly.
     As well as pledging more support for elderly carers, Mr Tsang announced a series of measures to increase the number of residential care places.

     "These initiatives will substantially increase the number of subsidised residential care places that provide nursing or continuous care in the next five years," the Chief Executive said.

     On democratic reform, Mr Tsang urged people to focus on the need to amend the electoral methods for electing the Chief Executive and forming the Legislative Council in 2012, in accordance with the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) in 2007, so as to roll forward the democratic development of the constitutional arrangements.

     He said the Government would next month (November) begin an extensive public consultation on the issue.

     The Chief Executive also encouraged the entire community to rally behind Hong Kongˇ¦s staging of the East Asian Games (EAG) in December.

     "The success of the EAG will be assured by the full participation of the community and our will to 'Be the Legend'," Mr Tsang said.

Ends/Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Issued at HKT 13:43