LCQ21: Overall population policy
In 2002 and 2007, the Government established the Task Force on Population Policy and the Steering Committee on Population Policy led by the Chief Secretary for Administration (CS) respectively. Subsequently in 2018, the Government established the Human Resources Planning Commission led by CS, and subsumed the functions of the Steering Committee on Population Policy and the Manpower Development Committee under the terms of reference of the Commission. However, it has been reported that the Commission has focused its work on the training of talents and employment support rather than population policy. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it is CS or the Secretary for Labour and Welfare who currently takes the lead in handling matters related to overall population policy; of the details of the division of work concerned when the relevant work involves policy areas of more than one policy bureau;
(2) given that the terms of reference of the Commission include following up and refining overall population policy, of the details of the relevant work carried out by the Commission since its establishment, including the number of meetings held, the number of proposals put forth, and the percentage of the relevant work in the overall work;
(3) whether it has assessed the effectiveness of the work of the Commission after the expansion of its functions, including whether the expansion of the Commission's functions has affected its carrying out of the work mentioned in (2); if it has assessed, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(4) whether the Government will consider afresh establishing a committee dedicated to the work on population policy, so as to focus on issues such as ageing population, demographic changes and encouraging childbearing; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
In response to the Member's question, I give the reply on behalf of the Government as follows:
The Steering Committee on Population Policy (SCPP) chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration was reconstituted in December 2012. The membership was expanded to include non-official members from different professional fields, enabling the Government to tap more diversified advice when deliberating issues related to population policy. During its tenure, the SCPP assisted the Government in the preparation for and follow-up of the public engagement exercise on population policy held in October 2013. The Government then released the report on "Population Policy - Strategies and Initiatives" in January 2015. Since then, the Government's work on population policy has focused on taking forward and implementing the initiatives set out in the report. The SCPP was also restructured at that time comprising only Directors of Bureaux and Heads of Departments. Following the full implementation of the initiatives in the report, the SCPP was disbanded in June 2017.
To underpin the Government's policy agenda, the Human Resources Planning Commission (HRPC) was established in April 2018 to deliberate issues related to human resources planning. Meanwhile, population policy is also integrated into the terms of reference of the HRPC. Since its establishment, the HRPC has discussed various issues related to manpower and talents, covering labour, training and upskilling, education policy, promotion of vocational education, talent admission, strategies to address manpower shortage situations in individual industries, manpower strategies to pursue development of key industries, etc. These issues are closely related to population policy.
Population policy involves a wide range of areas and cross-disciplinary issues. The current-term Government attaches particular importance to the work of human resources planning, and strives to enrich our talent pool so as to meet the future economic and social development needs. Individual bureaux participate in the planning and implementation under their purviews, while the Chief Secretary for Administration is responsible for high-level supervision and drives cross-bureaux collaboration. Under this division of labour, the Labour and Welfare Bureau is responsible for the work related to development of local human resources under population policy, such as training and retraining of local labour force, labour protection policies, etc., as well as matters related to attraction of outside talents and support of their development in Hong Kong, and uses it as the entry point to support and participate in the work of population policy.
Looking forward, the Government will continue to actively listen to the HRPC's views and suggestions on policies and measures on developing human resources and enhancing the quality and quantity of manpower. The Government currently has no plan to reinstate the SCPP.
Ends/Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:05
Issued at HKT 11:05