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Five-prong strategy to address challenge of demographic change

     A five-prong strategy will underpin Hong Kong's population policy, the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, announced today (January 14) in his annual Policy Address.

     The Steering Committee on Population Policy, chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration, will release its full report tomorrow.

     The strategy involves: unleashing the potential of the labour force, nurturing local manpower, attracting talent from outside Hong Kong, fostering a supportive environment for starting and raising families, and active ageing.

     To unleash the potential of the local labour force, the Government will encourage the extension of the retirement age, enhance child-care services and promote the employment of the underprivileged.

     Mr Leung said the Government will extend the service of civil servants and encourage other employers to extend the working life of their employees according to the circumstances.

     To enhance child care services and help women join the job market, full-day child-care places for children below the age of 3will be increased.

     To promote employment for new arrivals and ethnic minorities, the Employees Retraining Board will offer dedicated training courses for them.

     The Government will take a more proactive approach to recruiting talent and professionals from outside Hong Kong. Measures include:

* A pilot scheme to attract back to Hong Kong the second generation of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents who have emigrated;

* Encouraging talent and entrepreneurs to come to Hong Kong by relaxing stay arrangements under the General Employment Policy, the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals and the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme;

* Adjusting the General Points Test under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme to attract a larger pool of young talent with excellent educational backgrounds or international work experience;

* List clearly factors considered in processing applications to enter Hong Kong for investment under the General Employment Policy to attract more entrepreneurs from overseas, and to suspend the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme from January 15, 2015; and

* Study drawing up a talent list to attract high-quality talent to support Hong Kong's development as a diversified and high value-added economy.

     To foster a good environment for raising families, the Government will review the child allowance under the salaries tax in the coming Budget.

     Implementing 15-year free education will also help lessen the financial burden of young parents. The Committee on Free Kindergarten Education will submit its report to the Government in the middle of this year.

     On active ageing, the Government will help the elderly enjoy an active and fulfilling retirement through the Elder Academy Scheme and some 200 elderly centres. The Government will also encourage active participation in community activities such as volunteerism.

     The Government will extend the $2 public transport fare concession scheme to green minibuses in phases, starting from the end of March.

     Mr Leung also announced initiatives to nurture the next generation, including more resources for life planning, school exchanges and the establishment of the $300 million Youth Development Fund.

     The Education Bureau (EDB) will renew and enrich the curriculum and learning activities of science, technology and mathematics, and enhance teacher training.

     The EDB will also renew the curriculum content of Chinese history and world history to reinforce students' interest in and understanding of Chinese history and culture and broaden their global outlook.

     Mr Leung also announced a plan to provide subsidies that would allow students to join at least one Mainland exchange programme in primary and secondary school to gain first-hand experience of the country's rapid development.

     Links between Hong Kong and Mainland schools would also be strengthened via a pilot scheme to progressively double the number of primary and secondary sister schools to about 600 pairs within three years from the 2015/16 school year.

     "We will explore with Mainland provinces and cities to expand and enhance such exchange and co-operation, so that young people can broaden their horizons through two-way visits, life experience activities, cultural and service collaboration as well as job-seeking experience sharing," he said.

     The Government will seek funding approval as soon as possible to take forward two youth hostel projects, at Sheung Wan and Tai Po. Advance preparation is under way for two additional youth hostel projects, at Mong Kok and Jordan.

     The Government will set up a $300 million Youth Development Fund to support innovative youth development activities not covered by existing schemes.

     The subsidy may be in the form of matching funds for non-governmental organisations to assist young people in starting their own business.

     Details such as eligibility criteria, approval procedures and allocation priorities will be devised after consulting the Commission on Youth.

Ends/Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Issued at HKT 13:13


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