Budget Speech by the Financial Secretary (7)

Building Capacity

119.      Land and manpower are the two major constraints on Hong Kong’s economic growth.  In order to ease these constraints, we must make vigorous efforts to create land and nurture talent.  Doing so will not only make Hong Kong a better place in which to live and work, but also enable us to scale new heights in economic development, thereby maintaining social stability.

Northern Metropolis and Lantau Tomorrow

120. Both the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy (the Development Strategy) and Lantau Tomorrow plan are important initiatives for increasing land supply, through which housing supply can be substantially increased.
121. The Northern Metropolis will provide ample land for I&T uses, which will foster I&T development in Hong Kong.  Hung Shui Kiu/Ha Tsuen can also be developed into the New Territories North Modern Services Centre.  As regards development areas including San Tin Technopole, Lo Wu/Man Kam To Comprehensive Development Node, Ma Tso Lung, as well as Lau Fau Shan, Tsim Bei Tsui and Pak Nai, the Government is striving to formulate development plans for the four land formation projects within two to three years.  We will also step up the implementation of the New Development Areas projects to ensure timely completion of the housing projects.

122. On financial arrangements, I will set aside $100 billion from the cumulative return of the Future Fund to set up a dedicated fund under the Capital Works Reserve Fund in order to expedite the implementation of infrastructure works relating to land, housing and transportation within the Northern Metropolis.
123. As for Lantau Tomorrow, the Studies related to Artificial Islands in the Central Waters commenced in last June.  It is expected that preliminary proposals will be put forward in the fourth quarter of this year.  The Government is considering streamlining the procedures, with a view to further advancing the development timetable, i.e. commencing the first phase of reclamation before the original date of 2027 with the first batch of population intake before 2034.  We will make financial assessments when conducting relevant studies and explore the use of different approaches and financing options, including bond issuances or public-private partnership, etc. to take forward the projects.

Transport Infrastructure

124. The provision of comprehensive infrastructure support is crucial for the implementation of the major development projects mentioned above.  Infrastructure-led and capacity building planning approach means that transport infrastructure will be used to drive the development of land.  The expansion of the railway network will support NDAs and other new development projects, unleash the development potential of nearby areas and facilitate revitalisation, development and economic activities in the districts.  The Government is actively taking forward a series of new railway projects, among which the environmental impact assessment studies for the Northern Link and Hung Shui Kiu Station projects have commenced, while the railway schemes for the Tung Chung Line Extension and Tuen Mun South Extension were already gazetted.

125. We are exploring the layout of railway and major road infrastructure in the territory, having regard to the development strategy set out in the “Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030”.  These studies are conducted to ensure that the planning of infrastructure will cater for, or even reserve capacity to meet, the overall long-term development needs of Hong Kong, including the Development Strategy.  Besides, the Transport Department has launched the Traffic and Transport Strategy Study to lay down the visions for Hong Kong’s traffic and transport policies until 2050 and draw up a strategy blueprint, thereby ensuring that Hong Kong can build a safe, reliable, environmentally friendly and efficient traffic and transport system.

Talent and Labour Force

126. With an ageing population and a declining birth rate, Hong Kong’s workforce is expected to shrink.  To ensure the sustainable development of Hong Kong’s economy, apart from ensuring an adequate local supply of human resources, we should also enhance the quality of our workforce and attract talent to Hong Kong.

127. I shall now elaborate on measures for enriching our local talent pool, which include providing training to talent, enhancing the skills, knowledge and creativity of our manpower resources, and attracting talent from outside Hong Kong.
Financial Services

128. Having regard to the new trend of developing low‑carbon and sustainable economy, we plan to launch a three‑year Pilot Green and Sustainable Finance Capacity Building Support Scheme.  Under the scheme, subsidies will be provided for the training and acquisition of relevant professional qualifications, so as to encourage practitioners in the financial and other relevant sectors to participate in the training.

129. We are also actively implementing the development of professional qualifications recognised under the Qualifications Framework for Fintech practitioners.  The first batch of Fintech professional qualifications for the banking sector is expected to be rolled out this year.  We will also implement the Pilot Scheme on Training Subsidy for FinTech Practitioners this year.  Practitioners who have attained Fintech professional qualifications can receive reimbursement of 80 per cent of the tuition fees, and around 1 500 places will be offered.  We will conduct a consultancy study this year, with a view to continuing developing Fintech professional qualifications for different financial sectors, thereby promoting comprehensive professional development of Fintech talent.  The estimated expenditure of the scheme is $43 million.

130. Besides, we have commissioned the Cyberport to implement a new round of Financial Practitioners FinTech Training Programme this year to provide training programmes and tuition fee subsidies for practitioners in the insurance and securities sectors.  Subsidies will also be provided for the two sectors to organise their own training programmes.

Innovation and Technology

131. The HKSTPC and the Cyberport continue to provide young people with internship and training opportunities through various schemes.  The HKSAR Government has also launched a number of schemes such as the STEM Internship Scheme and the Research Talent Hub to provide incentives or subsidies for graduates to pursue a career in I&T.

132. At present, the Technology Talent Admission Scheme provides a fast track to process entry applications of individuals undertaking R&D work.  The Global STEM Professorship Scheme, on the other hand, supports universities in recruiting internationally renowned I&T scholars and their teams to conduct research and teaching activities in Hong Kong.  We will consider rolling out more relevant measures to facilitate the entry of talent into Hong Kong in due course.


133. To step up our efforts in coping with the continuous healthcare manpower shortage in the future, I intend to gradually increase recurrent allocation, up to $400 million a year as needed, for enhancing training for medical professionals starting from 2023/24 school year onward, including providing subsidies for students to enrol in taught postgraduate programmes on healthcare offered by University Grants Committee-funded universities, self‑financing post-secondary institutions or public medical institutions.  Students who have successfully completed the programmes can become medical professionals.  Meanwhile, 500 more designated places will be provided under the Study Subsidy Scheme for Designated Professions/Sectors to provide subsidies for students to take self‑financing undergraduate programmes on healthcare.

134. Besides, I will ask the FHB and the HA to explore waiving the clinical practicum training fees payable by tertiary institutions to the HA in respect of their subsidised undergraduate programmes and taught postgraduate programmes on healthcare.

135. Apart from the earmarked sum of $20 billion as announced in the 2018 Policy Address, I will set aside another $10 billion for the completion of the works to upgrade and increase the healthcare teaching facilities of the University of Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Polytechnic University.  Upon completion of the proposed facilities, the three universities will have the capacity of coping with about 900 additional healthcare training places.

Arts and Culture

136. I will allocate $37 million over the next six years to provide professional training for the conservators of the LCSD and those of the Hong Kong Palace Museum, which will be opened soon, as well as increase the number of places under the museum trainees (conservation) programme and the summer internship programme.  It is expected that the measures will benefit more than 150 people.

137. I will also inject $100 million into the Cantonese Opera Development Fund to further support Cantonese opera practitioners in enhancing their professional standards and pursuing continuous training, with a view to facilitating the long-term development of the Cantonese opera sector.  It is expected that the measure will benefit 800 Cantonese opera practitioners.

Construction Industry

138. In order to train more new blood and upskill in‑service workers, I propose to allocate $1 billion to the Construction Industry Council for supporting manpower training, which includes increasing the training places and the amount of allowance for trades facing labour shortage to attract new entrants and job changers to the industry, and increasing the training places for upgrading semi-skilled construction workers to skilled workers and the amount of allowance.  We will also step up our efforts to promote the professional image and career prospects of the construction industry in order to attract more young people to join.

139. We established the Centre of Excellence for Major Project Leaders in 2019 with the aim of equipping public officers with a more innovative mindset and enhanced leadership skills for taking forward public works projects.  I have set aside $30 million for extending the training of the centre to stakeholders outside the Government, including project-related personnel of major public organisations as well as those working for consultants and contractors engaged in public works projects, with a view to enhancing the overall performance of works projects, and jointly taking forward our long‑term major development plans.

Quality Migrant Admission Scheme

140. Upon completion of a review of the Talent List of Hong Kong under the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme earlier on, the Government has added to the list the professions of “professionals in compliance in asset management” and “financial professionals in Environmental, Social and Governance”, expanded the scope of some existing professions to include experts of “medical and healthcare sciences”, “microelectronics”, “integrated circuit design” and “arts technology”, as well as refined the requirements on legal and dispute resolution professionals.  This is to complement Hong Kong’s policy direction to accord priority to the development of finance, I&T, arts and culture as well as dispute resolution services in future, and attract more targeted talent to Hong Kong.

Vocational and Professional Education and Training

141. In addition, the Government has been actively promoting the development of vocational and professional education and training by providing flexible and diversified pathways for young people with different aspirations and abilities, with a view to nurturing talent required for the development of Hong Kong.  The Pilot Incentive Scheme to Employers and the Pilot International Study Programme under the Training and Support Scheme as well as the Pilot Subsidy Scheme for Students of Professional Part‑time Programmes have been implemented by the Vocational Training Council (VTC) to facilitate workplace learning and assessment, broaden learners’ horizon and encourage continuing education among the working population.  The Government has decided to extend the schemes for two years to benefit more trainees.

142. The Government is currently reviewing the Diploma Yi Jin subsidy scheme and enhancing the programme curriculum.  The scheme will be regularised starting from the 2023/24 school year to continue supporting Secondary Six school leavers as well as adult learners in securing employment and pursuing further study.

Encourage Continuing Education

143. To keep on promoting continuing education and encouraging members of the public to pursue self‑enhancement, the Government will raise the subsidy ceiling of the Continuing Education Fund (CEF) from $20,000 to $25,000 per applicant and remove the upper age limit.  This new initiative will benefit 760 000 more eligible persons as well as those who have opened a CEF account.

(To be continued.)

Ends/Wednesday, February 23, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:58