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Budget Speech by the Financial Secretary (6)
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Key to Development

Manpower

103. Government attaches great importance to investment in people.  In 2014-15, the recurrent expenditure on education will be $67.1 billion, taking up the largest share of recurrent government expenditure, also an increase of nearly 80 per cent over 1997-98.

104. A general rise in the education level of the workforce helps our market move towards a high value-added model.  However, there remain a manpower mismatch and relatively high youth unemployment rate that we need to address.  The city cannot afford to let the talent of any of its members go to waste.  To ensure that our manpower resources can meet the needs of economic development, we have to specifically strengthen life planning, vocational education and training for the youth.

105. Shortage of manpower hampers the development of certain industries.  Labour shortage in the construction sector, for instance, would affect the delivery of infrastructure projects.  Apart from encouraging young people to join these industries, admitting from abroad talent and workers not available in Hong Kong will also help maintain our competitiveness.  I hope that employers, employees and the community will work towards solutions to the problems through candid and open discussions.

Career Navigation and Training

106. The Vocational Training Council (VTC) will launch a pilot training and support scheme to attract new entrants for industries with keen demand for labour.  Under the scheme, structured apprenticeship training programmes will be integrated with clear career progression pathways.  The 2 000 apprentices joining the scheme will receive an allowance from Government and the industries.  Meanwhile, the Education Bureau (EDB) will strengthen support to schools to enrich and strengthen career guidance service and life planning education to enable students to realise their potential.

107. In my last Budget, I announced the setting up of the Task Force on Manpower Development of the Retail Industry to study the outlook of the retail industry and its manpower demand and supply.  Government has accepted the Task Force's recommendations and will allocate $130 million for their implementation, including the funding support mentioned earlier for retailers to increase productivity.  We will also assist the VTC in strengthening its vocational education and training with reference to the Specifications of Competency Standards for the Retail Industry that was newly drawn up under the Qualifications Framework (QF).  This includes running retail courses through a professional institution and launching pilot courses combining classroom learning and work placement.  We shall work with the industry to enhance the image of the trade.  The Labour Department will provide targeted recruitment and employment services as well as organise large-scale and district-based job fairs, all dedicated to the retail industry.

108. We shall seek closer collaboration with tertiary institutions and the industry to bring IT education more in line with the needs of the industry.  We shall step up publicity about the contribution made by IT to our society and economy to enhance the profession's image.  There are many examples of renowned IT talents around the world who started their own businesses at a young age and soon became leading figures in the IT sector.  To identify such gifted young people earlier, we plan to incorporate enrichment programmes in secondary schools which are outstanding in IT education.  By so doing, we hope to cultivate young IT professionals and even entrepreneurs to meet the development needs of a digital society.

109. Professionals and skilled personnel in various areas of the financial services industry are of vital importance to the sustained development and expansion of the sector.  In this connection, FSTB will consult the industry and conduct an in-depth study on related issues, and submit their recommendations to me.

Continuing Education and Training

110. Continuing education is crucial to productivity enhancement and economic development.  EDB plans to establish an endowment fund of $1 billion to provide a steady source of funding to support the sustainable development of the QF, benefitting employees and employers, education and training providers, assessment agencies and quality assurance bodies.  We hope this initiative will encourage continuous learning among practitioners of the sectors concerned.

111. In 2014-15, the Employees Retraining Board (ERB) will offer 130 000 training places and services for those aged 15 or above with education attainment at sub-degree level or below.  Resources have also been reserved to provide an additional 40 000 places to meet the potential demand from the employment market.  The Finance Committee of this Council has approved Government's injection of $15 billion into the ERB as part of our long-term support.

Land Supply

112. To address the demand for land in the short, medium and long term, I shall continue to co-ordinate the efforts of the various government departments to increase housing land supply with a view to achieving the target of providing 470 000 residential flats in the coming ten years.  We shall seek to increase the supply of commercial land to provide more opportunity for the community and various sectors.  I shall allocate an additional funding of over $650 million in the coming five years to the bureaux and departments involved in this work to create 229 posts of different grades to enhance land development efforts.

Residential Land Supply

113. In this financial year, Government put up for sale 36 residential sites capable of providing about 14 000 private residential units, a record high since 2000-01.  Together with other development projects, the total housing land supply from different sources will be capable of providing about 18 000 private residential units, falling short of the original annual average target of 20 000 units, mainly due to slower than expected progress in railway property development projects, projects of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and projects subject to lease modification/land exchange.  Taking into account the private residential developments which have started or will start on disposed sites, together with other unsold units of completed projects, about 71 000 private residential units are estimated to be available for sale in the next three to four years.

114. So far we have identified 150 sites for residential use which, if their statutory plans could all be successfully amended, are expected to be made available over the next five years to provide about 210 000 public and private units.  The 2014-15 Land Sale Programme will include 34 residential sites capable of providing about 15 500 units in total.  Among these sites, 24 are new ones.  Taking into account the housing land supply from different sources, we expect that the average annual target of land supply for private housing can be met in the coming financial year.  The Secretary for Development will announce tomorrow the Land Sale Programme for the coming year.

115. Public housing takes up 60 per cent of the new housing target.  To achieve the new target on the provision of public rental housing flats and Home Ownership Scheme flats, Government is fully committed to supplying additional sites to the Housing Authority.  Apart from adequate supply of land and manpower resources, we have to ensure that there will be sufficient funding for the Housing Authority as well.

116. The Housing Authority will have an estimated balance of $68 billion at the end of this financial year.  The sum can meet the funding requirement of the development programme for the next four years.  However, to achieve the new housing production target, the Housing Authority must keep enhancing cost-effectiveness and sustainability of modus operandi in the long run.  I hope that it will conclude the assessment next year on additional financial resources needed for the next ten years after consolidating revenue increases and cost savings.  This will facilitate its discussions with Government on a feasible long-term financial arrangement.

Room for Business Development

117. The Land Sale Programme for the coming financial year will include seven sites for commercial/business use and one for "hotel only" use, providing a total floor area of about 230 000 square metres and some 1 100 hotel rooms.

118. To accommodate more economic activities and create more job opportunities, we shall increase land supply for commercial use in different districts through seven measures íV

(a) continuing with the measures to facilitate revitalisation of industrial buildings and expediting the rezoning of industrial sites, to make available more floor area for commercial and other uses.  The Planning Department is expected to complete a new round of industrial land review within this year to explore converting some sites no longer required for industrial use into other uses including commercial.  The Lands Department has approved lease modification or land exchange applications in the past two years that are capable of providing about 250 000 square metres of additional commercial floor area;

(b) expediting the conversion of suitable Government, Institution or Community (GIC) sites in core business districts for commercial use.  The two multi-storey carparks at Murray Road in Central and Rumsey Street in Sheung Wan are estimated to provide Grade A office space of some 76 000 square metres.  The Middle Road Multi-storey Car Park Building in Tsim Sha Tsui, the Trade and Industry Department Tower in Mong Kok and the former Mong Kok Market will be converted for commercial use, providing about 53 000 square metres of commercial floor area.  Meanwhile, we are taking forward the plan to relocate the offices in the three government office buildings in Wan Chai.  Some of the offices therein will be reprovisioned to the West Kowloon Government Offices, the construction of which is expected to commence next year.  Planning is also under way for the construction of the replacement offices in Kai Tak, Tseung Kwan O and Cheung Sha Wan;
 
(c) completing the land use and traffic impact study of the government site at Caroline Hill Road as soon as possible for the provision of more commercial floor area in Causeway Bay;

(d) the planning of the new Central harbourfront as a whole is expected to provide an estimated commercial floor area of about 260 000 square metres for office, retail, hotel and exhibition, etc. uses;

(e) the Kai Tak Development, an important source of future commercial land in Hong Kong, will provide about 1.4 million square metres of commercial floor area, including hotel sites, in phases over the three years from 2016-17;

(f) implementing the relocation and integration of the existing government facilities in the two action areas of Kowloon East on Kwun Tong waterfront and in Kowloon Bay, and kicking start the advance works.  This project will provide some 500 000 square metres of commercial floor area.  Government will identify suitable government sites in those areas to be released in the next financial year, providing over 120 000 square metres of commercial floor area; and

(g) conducting public consultation and a pilot study this year on the development of urban underground space in four strategic districts, namely Causeway Bay, Happy Valley, Admiralty/Wan Chai and Tsim Sha Tsui West.

Long-term Development

119. From a long-term point of view, when planning for new town extensions and new development areas, we must capitalise on the locational advantages to provide sites for the commercial sector and other industries.  This will create employment opportunities and facilitate economic development in the areas.  There are seven projects on this front íV

(a) in the development plans including the North East New Territories New Development Areas, Lok Ma Chau Loop, Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area, Tung Chung New Town Development Extension, etc., over 140 hectares have been reserved for commercial use and for the development of various industries.  The sites are expected to create over 160 000 new jobs, boosting economic activities in these localities;

(b) $60 million has been earmarked for a preliminary feasibility study on the topside and underground space development of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (HKBCF), covering about 130 hectares, for commercial purposes such as shopping, dining, entertainment and hotels as well as on providing the necessary supporting infrastructure;

(c) tying in with the planning of the three-runway system and the synergy of the Lantau Development, the airport's North Commercial District development will be expedited to maximise the benefits;

(d) the HKBCF will connect with Tuen Mun Areas 40 and 46 via the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link.  Relevant planning and engineering studies have commenced, covering a total planning area of over 50 hectares;

(e) in the Preliminary Feasibility Study on Developing the New Territories North, which covers 5 300 hectares, the potential for economic development and employment creation in the areas around the boundary crossings at Lok Ma Chau, Man Kam To and Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai will be explored;

(f) the study on the East Lantau Metropolis will commence as soon as possible.  Consideration is being given to the proposal for building an artificial island in central waters between Hong Kong Island and Lantau Island, to develop a new core commercial district.  The new metropolis, to be well fitted with transport and infrastructure facilities, could accommodate a population of several hundred thousand and provide many employment opportunities; and

(g) preparing for the study on reclamation on an appropriate scale at Sunny Bay, and commencing preliminary feasibility studies progressively on other near-shore reclamation sites for the development of various industries and building up of a long-term land reserve.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Issued at HKT 12:05

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