Mr YUEN Mo (Chairman of the 52nd terms of office) March 2021
A stable social environment is crucial to the effective implementation of the support measures proposed by the Budget, and to helping businesses to tap into new opportunities under the new circumstances.
Last month, the HKSAR government announced the latest Budget, presenting a series of measures aimed at stabilizing the economy and relieving people’s hardship, while affirming policy support for the long-term development of various industries. Around the same time, Xia Baolong, Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, expanded on the principle of “patriots governing Hong Kong”. We are convinced that a stable social environment is crucial to the effective implementation of the support measures proposed by the Budget, and to helping businesses to tap into new opportunities under the new circumstances.
Measures proposed by the Budget conductive to economic revival
The Budget has concretely set out the areas to which resources will be allocated; for example, the loan ceiling and repayment period of the loan for SMEs are to be raised and extended respectively, and a special 100% loan guarantee for individuals is to be set up to help the unemployed. In addition, the issuing of electronic consumption vouchers is expected to stimulate consumption, thus helping local businesses and instilling optimism in the domestic market.
We endorse the Budget’s focus on post-pandemic economic revival and extending policy support to Hong Kong’s competitive industries. In particular, we agree that support for I&T development should be strengthened in areas like talent cultivation and infrastructure investment. To this end, we hope the authorities will consider providing subsidies for Hong Kong companies to hire scientific research experts from the Mainland and abroad, raising the tax exemption threshold for the R&D expenditure of SMEs, and applying tax deduction arrangements on the R&D expenditure incurred by Hong Kong businesses in the Mainland. We also hope the government can increase its investment for the “Innovation and Technology Venture Fund” and simplify the application procedure to provide more opportunities for Hong Kong’s I&T industry.
Deepening Hong Kong’s integration into the Greater Bay Area
The Budget also put forward policies and measures for promoting the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Greater Bay Area) and helping Hong Kong businesses and young people to find opportunities in the region. In line with the government’s policy direction, CGCC has been striving to assist its members and the Hong Kong business sector at large in integrating into the development of the Greater Bay Area. CGCC’s submissions to the CPPCC session this year also included proposals to further align cross-border infrastructure and foster personnel circulation, and to intensify Hong Kong’s participation in the I&T development in the Greater Bay Area.
Shenzhen is the first station through which the High Speed Rail - Hong Kong Section connects with the Greater Bay Area. We recommend that the Hong Kong’s rail network be linked up with all the high-speed rail routes in the Greater Bay Area via the Shenzhen Xili Integrated Transport Hub through unified planning, and that “Co-location Arrangement” and electronic tickets for the Hong Kong section be implemented. At the same time, the authorities of Guangdong and Hong Kong should explore on the resumption of economic and people exchange as soon as possible, and in the long run, develop an efficient and convenient intercommunication system to facilitate cross-border interaction.
Hong Kong is capable of assuming a key role in the development of the international I&T hub in the Greater Bay Area. We hope the Central government can increase support for I&T cooperation between Hong Kong and other Greater Bay Area cities, such as by establishing platforms for technological exchange and research talent matching, and training professional intermediaries for such exchange.
Hong Kong and Shenzhen can also promote the matching of Mainland enterprises with Hong Kong research talent in the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park at the Lok Ma Chau Loop, and enhance the facilities and support for the I&T industry in the Greater Bay Area in an all-round manner. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong authorities can liaise with their Guangdong counterparts on creating a long-term youth employment scheme and making tax benefits available to provide Hong Kong youths with greater incentive and the support they need to live, work and set up businesses in the Greater Bay Area.
“Patriots governing Hong Kong” principle fosters stable social development
Before Hong Kong can fully integrate into the Greater Bay Area, it is necessary to restore social stability and harmony and a stable business environment. Director Xia has expounded the objective standard and criteria regarding the “patriots governing Hong Kong” principle, and advised that Hong Kong’s election system be enhanced to ensure long-term peace and order. Following the enactment of the National Security Law, social order has already been restored to a great extent. The HKSAR government’s implementation of oath-taking/declaration requirement for civil servants and its proposal to revise the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance signal an important step toward realizing the “patriots governing Hong Kong” principle.
We believe that by upholding the “patriots governing Hong Kong” principle and improving the election system, genuine patriots will be allowed access to the governance structure, so that some of the deeply rooted issues existing in Hong Kong can be resolved. More broadly, it will allow Hong Kong to regain momentum in integrating into the country’s development framework and to grasp the immense opportunities ahead.