LCQ8: Improving population policy
Since 1961, a population census has been conducted in Hong Kong every 10 years, and the last census was conducted in 2021. There are views that Hong Kong is facing the problems of an ageing population and a declining birth rate. This situation, coupled with the fact that Hong Kong has been impacted by the epidemic in recent years and the net outflow of its population has been on the rise, brings about a significant change in the demographic structure. If the next population census will only be conducted in 2031 by the Government in accordance with the relevant mechanism, it will not be possible to provide, in a timely manner, up-to-date benchmark information on the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the population and benchmark information by geographical distribution for the Government to carry out planning and formulate policies. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it will, in the light of the latest situation and short-term needs of Hong Kong society, shorten the current 10-year interval for conducting a population census, in order to more accurately grasp the demographic profile of Hong Kong;
(2) whether it has made planning on the population size of Hong Kong, including estimating the population size which is more favourable to the future social and economic development; given that the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) will be developed toward the direction of a city cluster in future, whether the Government will determine afresh the population size of Hong Kong to tie in with the development of GBA; and
(3) whether it will further improve the population policy to ensure the long-term and healthy development of the Hong Kong economy and to maintain its competitiveness?
In consultation with the relevant bureaux/departments, I give the reply on behalf of the Government as follows:
(1) The Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) conducts a population census once every 10 years and a by-census in the middle of the 10-year intercensal period, with a view to estimating the total population and compiling statistical findings on the population characteristics. Conducting survey every five years can support government planning and other research purposes, which is also more frequent than the decennial censuses in most other economies. The previous population census was conducted in 2021 and the next by-census is scheduled for operation in 2026.
(2) The C&SD compiles new population projection every five years to determine the Hong Kong's population scale at various times of the projection period, which provides a common basis for various planning works of the Government (such as economic and social development, education, housing, healthcare, social services and infrastructure). Data of the population projection are mainly for government planning. It is not the target for the Hong Kong population size.
(3) One of the main objectives of Hong Kong's population policy is to develop and nurture talents, continuously build Hong Kong's talent pool, proactively attract outside talents, consolidate Hong Kong's competitiveness as a world city, and facilitate sustainable economic and social development. The Government will continue to implement the population policy strategies promulgated in 2015 and individual bureaux will follow up the respective population policy initiatives under their purview.
The local workforce has shrunk by more than 100 000 over the past two years. The Chief Executive decisively put forward an array of new initiatives of trawling for talents in the 2022 Policy Address to attract outside talents in a more proactive manner to fill the manpower gap in addition to nurturing local talents.
Since the re-organisation of the government structure on July 1, 2022, the work of human resources planning has been transferred to the Labour and Welfare Bureau (LWB). The LWB is pressing ahead with the following work:
(i) Formulating, reviewing and implementing suitable talent admission schemes and refining the existing ones having regard to changes in and demand for the local labour force as well as the situation of the global talent competition. We will also step up collaboration with cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) to facilitate talent flow in the region and develop GBA into a major talent centre. We will leverage on Hong Kong's advantages to take on the role as the gateway for incoming talents to the GBA talent centre;
(ii) Enhancing manpower planning and taking forward more detailed manpower projections to assess with greater precision the manpower and skills requirements at different skills levels in key industries, thereby facilitating the formulation of targeted strategies and measures;
(iii) Setting up the physical office of the Hong Kong Talent Engage to proactively and vigorously promote the city's advantages, tell good stories of Hong Kong and attract more talents to come. We will also help talents connect with different sectors of community, thereby facilitating their settlement and long-term development in Hong Kong; and
(iv) Reviewing the existing training and retraining arrangements, and exploring appropriate measures so as to promote and foster upskilling and reskilling of the local labour force.
Senior government officials and various bureaux will closely monitor changes in the local population and services demand, timely review and enhance relevant strategies and initiatives under their purview to meet Hong Kong's economic and social development needs.
Ends/Wednesday, May 3, 2023
Issued at HKT 11:05
Issued at HKT 11:05