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Steering Committee on Population Policy convenes third meeting

     The Steering Committee on Population Policy (SCPP), chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, held its third meeting today (April 19).

     The subjects deliberated by the SCPP at today's meeting included the One-way Permit (OWP) scheme and demand for local education and health services by children born to non-local parents (commonly referred as "Type II babies").

     The OWP scheme allows Mainland residents to come to Hong Kong for family reunion in an orderly manner through approval by the Mainland authorities in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Mainland. From July 1997 to December 2012, a total of around 760 000 Mainland residents arrived in Hong Kong for settlement by way of OWP. The inflow of new arrivals via the OWP scheme is one of the major sources of population growth in Hong Kong. Members received a briefing from a Government department on the operation of OWP scheme, including the adjustments made to the OWP scheme by the Mainland authorities in recent years, for example, the shortening of the waiting time to four years in respect of application for Mainland spouses to come to Hong Kong, and the acceptance of applications from overage children for OWP in phases starting from April 2011.  

     Members also noted that there are about 200 000 Type II babies. It is projected that about half of them might come to Hong Kong for living in future, and another 20 per cent would choose to study in Hong Kong as cross-boundary students. These children would reach school age in the years to come. The Administration projects that the demand for primary one school places would peak between the 2016/17 and 2018/19 school years.

     Having appreciated the many uncertainties involved in the above projections, members understood that the Administration would enhance the projection mechanism to make early and proper preparation, with the needs of local students being taken care of as a matter of priority. In addition, with the implementation of the "zero delivery quota" for the Mainland expectant mothers whose husbands are not Hong Kong people from 2013, the increase in demand for local education services driven by Type II children would only be a transient phenomenon. Members therefore considered that the Administration should adopt flexible measures to address the problem, such as borrowing places from the neighbouring school net, using vacant classrooms, conversion of other rooms into additional classrooms, using suitable vacant school premises for school use, and allocating additional students per class.  

     Apart from education services, members noted that the additional demand for public health services created by Type II babies would mainly concern services provided by the Maternal and Child Health Centres (MCHCs) and inpatient paediatric services. The demand for MCHCs services would substantially decline in five years as a result of the implementation of "zero delivery quota" policy starting from 2013.  As regards inpatient services, it was projected that the enhancement of service capacity, already under planning by the Hospital Authority, should be able to meet the additional demand.

     In the face of an ageing population and dwindling labour force, extending the working life of our population would help replenish the labour force. This is one of the issues to be looked into by the SCPP. Members agreed that the HKSAR Government, as the largest employer in Hong Kong, should take the lead in studying the relevant issues. Members noted that the Civil Service Bureau had already started an internal study on extending the service of civil servants. It was expected that the collection of data and analysis would be completed towards the end of this year for conducting consultation at the next stage.

Ends/Friday, April 19, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:54


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