Steering Committee on Population Policy convenes eighth meeting

     The Steering Committee on Population Policy (SCPP) chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam, held its eighth meeting this afternoon (March 12).

     In the meeting, the SCPP conducted a preliminary review of the public engagement exercise on population policy, which ended on February 23. The SCPP noted that, after the launch of the exercise on October 24 last year, the SCPP and its Secretariat visited 18 District Councils or their committees, held three public forums and eight focus group meetings, and attended various meetings and consultation sessions organised by government advisory bodies and different stakeholders to gauge views extensively. The Secretariat received more than 2 000 submissions (including views submitted via telephone hotlines) by the end of the exercise. The Social Sciences Research Centre of the University of Hong Kong was commissioned to conduct an independent analysis of the views received. It is expected that the survey results and analysis report would be completed in the second quarter of 2014.

     Members discussed in the meeting the mainstream views received during the consultation period, including the objectives for population policy, the vision for Hong Kong's future development, socio-economic integration between Hong Kong and the Mainland, and the effect of population mobility on population policy and the livelihood of the public. The SCPP noted that there is a general consensus among the public on some topics, including broadening the base of the industries to enhance competitiveness and increase job diversity for young people; extension of the retirement age; better support for employment of women; assisting new arrivals, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities to integrate into society; improving the education and training for young people to let them realise their potential; promoting vocational education and multiple pathways; attracting more talent from overseas; and fostering a family-friendly environment. Members of the public and stakeholders have also put forward quite a number of concrete suggestions in these areas. However, there are divergent views on certain topics, such as the importation of labour and the One Way Permit Scheme.

     The SCPP noted that the Chief Executive had in his Policy Address in mid-January put forward concrete measures on issues with greater consensus, including enhancing child care services, strengthening the Chinese learning and employment support for ethnic minorities, and providing funding to support the Vocational Training Council to provide more training and industrial attachment opportunities for industries with a keen demand for labour. The SCPP considered that priorities should be set for other actionable policy areas as soon as possible so as to formulate concrete measures with relevant bureaux and departments on the basis of public views.

     During the meeting, members of the SCPP were also briefed on two relevant reports. They were the Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre's study report "Hong Kong's Future Population and Manpower Needs to 2030", released on February 20, and the report of a fiscal sustainability appraisal on the public finances in Hong Kong, which was released on March 3 by the Working Group on Long-Term Fiscal Planning. The Working Group was appointed by the Financial Secretary. The SCPP will make reference to the findings and suggestions of these reports when formulating an action plan and concrete measures.

Ends/Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Issued at HKT 20:00