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Transcript of CE's press conference on Policy Address

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at the press conference on the 2014 Policy Address at Central Government Offices, Tamar, this afternoon (January 15):

Reporter: Chief Executive, two points. First, looked at in the round, what does this budget at this time in your mind say about your personal aspirations as Chief Executive for the term of office? And secondly, in crafting this, have you had to keep an eye on keeping support from the business community in the run-up to hopefully finding a deal on constitutional reform?

Chief Executive: Your second question, the two are not related. The Government is lobbying, if that's the right word, for the support of not just one or two sectors on the question of constitutional reform. We need a very broad-based support of all sectors in Hong Kong for us to achieve constitutional reform - 2016 for LegCo and 2017 for the Chief Executive election. And we also need a very broad-based support for us to implement the reform after these two years, and so that's important.

     In the round, this Policy Address says a lot about what this Government set out to do, what this Government has taken on its own shoulders as its responsibilities to the people of Hong Kong. We want to have a relatively high rate of economic growth, and a sustained one that, so that the Government, the people and the employers in between have the necessary financial capabilities to address some of the long-standing issues in Hong Kong including housing, poverty, the environment, an ageing society. Obviously, we don't lose sight of the need to plan for the long-term health care of Hong Kong people. We don't lose sight of education. And all these have a long-term competitiveness impact or implication on Hong Kong. So we are pretty focused as to what we want to set out to do: grow the economy and use the extra economic growth to deal with the issues that I just mentioned.

Reporter: Could you tell me, the society has been demanding for a universal retirement scheme, but there is no such scheme mentioned in this Policy Address. Could you explain why? And, secondly, you have talked about boosting tourism in Hong Kong even though many people have already insisted Hong Kong can't accommodate more tourists. And lastly, would the Government be facing any fiscal pressures due to the large amount of measures mentioned in the Policy Address?

Chief Executive: Right. I believe it is paragraph 61 where I reported to the community the work in the direction of retirement protection. I say here the CoP, the Commission on Poverty, has commissioned a consultancy study, a team with Professor Nelson Chow as the chief consultant, to assess various retirement protection schemes on the basis of multi-pillar approach and so on, so forth. We expect the team to report back earlier than mid-2014, so it's not that far away.

     Secondly, on the question of tourism. Tourism is an important sector of Hong Kong's economy. Its per capita contribution to our GDP is not as high as, for example, the financial services sector, but one very important feature of tourism is that it provides a very large number of jobs for workers in the, if you like, lower strata of society. So it is important for the purpose of employment. I also reported in my Policy Address which I delivered this morning on the consultation that we have had with the Central Authorities on the question of Hong Kong's capacity to receive - and to receive properly - visiting Mainland residents, so that's in the report as well.

     We do have the financial capability to pay for the measures and initiatives I announced this morning in the Policy Address, particularly as we do have very, very good potential to grow an even stronger economy at an even higher rate, and that will give Government the necessary public finance, give employers the necessary revenue and to give workers the necessary salaries to achieve the targets that we have commonly set out to achieve. Thank you.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:49


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