Dr Jonathan CHOI Koon-shum (Chairman of the 50th terms of office) January 2018
The Budget should offer more financial support in driving industrial research, development and innovation, and that concrete policies should be formulated to assist the business and industrial community to effectively take part in regional construction.
The Budget of the new year will be announced next month. Earlier on, the SAR Government consulted the views of various business and industrial associations, including CGCC. We believe that the Budget should offer more financial support in driving industrial research, development and innovation, and that concrete policies should be formulated to assist the business and industrial community to effectively take part in regional construction. We also hope that the authorities could review the long-term planning of Hong Kong’s human resources in a comprehensive manner. Specifically, issues such as labor shortage and skill mismatch should be studied to understand how they affect our industries.
Allocate more resources on innovation and technology
The global economy is developing towards a new trend based on knowledge and technology. Hong Kong companies should also invest more resources into the relevant areas to be in tandem with the new economy. The Policy Address announced in October last year mentioned much about promoting innovation and technology development, such as offering matching funds for local innovation and technology start-ups.
Subject to risk management considerations, private funds may not provide full support to start-ups, and banks and financial institutions in Hong Kong tend to offer secured loans. Under these circumstances, it is more difficult for start-ups to acquire adequate funding during their growth stage. We hope the Budget could put forward measures to assist start-up financing so that there are more incentives for private institutes to invest in them. Approval processes should also be simplified to shorten lead time, so that private funds could have a bigger say in project matching.
The authorities can also explore setting the requirements for technological research and development in their procurement policies, such that the “lowest bid wins” approach is not the only consideration. Instead, terms and conditions that are favorable for local SME bidders and encourage innovation could be introduced. Furthermore, we suggest the SAR Government should look at the feasibility of working with the industries, and join hands to organize more events to showcase the inventions and products made locally and internationally as a means to foster the development in innovation and technology.
Help industries collaborate in regional construction
Earlier on, the National Development and Reform Commission signed agreements with the SAR Government regarding the arrangements for Hong Kong to fully take part in and drive the construction of the “Belt and Road” initiative. This allows Hong Kong to further leverage on its unique function in liaising with the Mainland and overseas. Hong Kong can strengthen the interconnection with the Mainland and “Belt and Road” financial markets, construct channels for RMB circulation, and attempt to become the location for issuing shares and bonds of projects under “Belt and Road”. We should also strive to win over organizations such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road Fund to land in Hong Kong, so that we could put our role as a financing platform to good use.
To encourage Hong Kong merchants to take part in “Belt and Road”, the authorities can explore expanding the scope of the BUD Fund – which is currently used to help companies expand into the Mainland market – to “Belt and Road” markets. They can also encourage business and industrial associations to promote collaboration between Hong Kong merchants with state-owned enterprises, central enterprises and private enterprises in the Mainland, and to construct a platform for capital and talent exchange for “Belt and Road”.
The Policy Address also mentioned the SAR Government’s active participation in the development of the Greater Bay Area. We suggest the authorities could work with the Guangdong provincial government and explore putting incentive policies and financial support measures in place. For example, it could further expand the scope for corporate cross-border investment, optimize the relevant tax policies for business operation in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, etc. By doing so, there will be more incentives and greater convenience for companies to operate in the Greater Bay Area; these would also attract high-end talents to work and live in the Area.
Optimize human resources matching
To cope with the long-term development of innovation and technology and the regional economy, we believe the authorities should strive to improve the supply and competitiveness of our human resources, and actively recruit foreign professionals. It should fully optimize the current talent admission scheme by making appropriate adjustments in the restrictions on job categories, as well as the assessment criteria and processes. Flexibility should be given to emerging industries such as innovative and technology areas, so as to expedite the approval for the relevant talents.
At present, many industries in Hong Kong are challenged by the problem of labor shortage. We hope the authorities could accelerate its consideration on actualizing an expanded labor importation policy, and that a more effective and flexible labor importation plan can be rolled out.
In conclusion, we look forward to seeing how the new Budget could actively work with the policies and measures raised in the Policy Address. We also hope to see the relevant allocation can be put to work as soon as possible, and that it could help promote industrial innovation, perfect the business environment, and facilitate regional cooperation by providing comprehensive financial support, so as to help Hong Kong companies boost their competitiveness in the course of new economic development.