Transcript of remarks by CE at question-and-answer session of Joint Business Community Luncheon 2016 (1) (English only)

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, at the question-and-answer session of the Joint Business Community Luncheon 2016 held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre today (January 27):

Moderator (Chairman of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce, Mr Pang Yiu-kai): The Chief Executive, thank you very much for coming to speak to us this afternoon and for those very enlightening and helpful elaborations of your Policy Address. Now ladies and gentlemen, the Chief Executive is able and willing to take a number of questions from the floor, so if you have a question for the Chief Executive, please raise your hand and I will try to select a cross section from across the room, and if selected, you know please, a mic will be brought to you and please do stand up and say out what your name is and then ask your question, but one question please, not a whole string of questions. I see one from the head table. Over there, please.

Attendee: Richard Vuylsteke from American Chamber of Commerce. Chief Executive, I think we'd like to ask a question with direct reference to your closing comments about public works. The lack of movement on projects being obstructed by LegCo is a matter of concern for many of us. My question is, from your perspective, what can the business community do to help push things along better to make Hong Kong more economically efficient and successful, thank you.

Chief Executive: Thank you, Richard, for your question. Speak out. Let members of the Legislative Council, each and every one of them, know that there will be consequences. There will be economic and political consequences for Hong Kong and for themselves. Six hundred-plus, sorry, sixty-plus billion dollars is a lot of money. It will generate a lot of multiplying effects, not just for people and companies directly related to these projects. Everyone in Hong Kong will benefit one way or another, so I think we need to say this to Members of LegCo - they are controlling it. No one else in Hong Kong is now controlling it, and I think it is also important for LegCo to realise that they have duty not to filibuster. The passage of the Government's motion to spend this money is one area of concern and I know the American Chamber of Commerce is also interested in the question of the copyright amendment bill, which is again the subject of filibustering. Sixty-plus billion dollars is a lot of money. It is about, it's more than 10 per cent of Government's total expenditure in a year, and when we have an uncertain economy ahead of us, public spending becomes all the more important and I think these points should really get out, not from me, not from my Chief Secretary, but also from people in the business and other sectors.

Moderator: So we all make our voices heard. The next question, table 31.

Attendee: Raymond Leung from Chinese Chamber. Chief Executive, One Belt, One Road is one of the greatest initiatives of our century. We're glad that a steering committee is going to be set up to look into this initiative. How would you consolidate Hong Kong's advantage, and how we businesses can co-operate with the 57 countries along the One Belt, One Road Initiative, and how we in your view, prepare ourselves, as the business community, for such challenges? Thank you.

Chief Executive: Thank you Raymond. The proposal and some elaboration in the Policy Address on this question is the result of listening to the business sector over the past 12 months. I personally chaired for example the Strategic Development Commission and also the Economic Development Commission, and listened to members representing the businesses and other sectors on how we should approach this big initiative. As I said, the steering committee will look at two things - sectors and then countries, and then we merge the two tables and we have a work plan. I'll be very interested to listen, I'm sure my colleagues on the steering committee will too, and incidentally the steering committee is an internal government committee to co-ordinate the work within government among departments. We'd like to hear from our business friends as to which countries and which sectors we should focus our efforts in, definitely in the first year. Even longer term, we can't pretend to be all things to all men, we can't pretend that Hong Kong can cover all the sectors and all the countries under this Belt and Road Initiative. So, next 12 months, a work plan based on level-headed prioritisation is the key.

Moderator: Right, the next question? Table 29.

Attendee: Hi. I am Shirley Chan from Hong Kong and Chinese Manufacturers' Association. In short, we call it CMA. We are very encouraged, okay, to note that you know, this newly established, you know, the Innovation and Technology Bureau. You know, which we understand that there are a lot of new measures, you know. They put forward to enhance Hong Kong technology and innovation. My question is, how many other ways to, you know, that this new bureau can help and strengthen us as Hong Kong manufacturer, especially those, you know, really station and operating in the Pearl River Delta? You know, so that we can move up, you know to this, upgrading ourselves to the new technology and move up to this value-added ladder. Thank you.

Chief Executive: Thank you, Shirley. As I mentioned in my address early on, one of the statutory bodies which the bureau will co-ordinate is the Productivity Council (PC), which has been helping Hong Kong industries within Hong Kong and outside of Hong Kong including those operating in the Pearl River Delta area, and the bureau will co-ordinate the Hong Kong PC's work together with the work of others, including Cyberport or ITC, Science Park and so on. And again, I am sure Nick, I saw Nick somewhere sitting at that table. Nick would be very thankful if businesses could provide the feedbacks or suggestions to what exactly the bureau and these government organs should do to help our industries in Hong Kong and outside it.

     Let me tack a quick remark to my answer, if I may, Shirley. I think we should also ask the universities to help. There is a paragraph in my Policy Address which I think is important. I highlighted the fact that, unlike many other economies, most of our research resources, including brain power and financial resources, are in our universities. We do not have businesses that own and operate their own research and development efforts. So we have to rely on our universities and the universities, some of our university research work should go downstream. They should not stay in the bookshelves. And there is one way within Government that describes this wish, and we will discuss with the university vice-chancellors and presidents and their deans of faculties as to how we actually do this. And this is how we take things from the bookshelves, meaning the results of research carried out by our professors and our investigators to shop windows. So from primary and academic research to translational research and then actually producing the products in services. I think it's an important factor. I think it'll be very useful if we could also leverage on the research capabilities of our universities and add them to, for example the Hong Kong PC's efforts.

(To be continued.)

Ends/Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Issued at HKT 18:24