Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu is set to deliver his second policy address on 25 October at 11am in the Legislative Council Chamber. Lee chose green as the main colour, which he said symbolises hope, vitality, peace, as well as Hong Kong’s progress in advancing from stability to prosperity.
As Hong Kong housing prices continue to drop, the general public expects the government to ease the current property cooling measures, also known as the “spicy policies.”
Besides, Hong Kong is experiencing a record-low fertility rate. The city’s leader previously mentioned the government is planning to introduce measures to encourage childbirth, and more details are expected to be released in the policy address today.
Yahoo News will keep you updated throughout the address and bring you all the highlights.
More Details: Policy Address 2023: What you need to know
【13:06】Cash for newborns, priority housing for new parents: John Lee
In view of Hong Kong’s record-low fertility rate, the Chief Executive identified monetary incentives as his core strategies to encourage childbirth. Starting from today (25 October), each newborn can receive HK$20,000 (USD 2,557) cash from the government if at least one of the parents is a permanent Hong Kong resident. The measure will last for three years before further review, said Lee.
New parents will also enjoy housing benefits. One tenth of the flats under the Home Ownership Scheme and Green Home Ownership Scheme will be reserved for families with newborns. The parents can enjoy the priority to select the flats, and their waiting time for public housing will be reduced by a year. The new policy will come into effect next April.
【12:44】Hong Kong slashes stamp duty for some
After weeks of anticipation, John Lee’s second Policy Address announced the easing of the “spicy” property policies, including cutting buyers’ stamp duties on new homes by half. The Special Stamp Duty, which was originally not required to be levied if resold after three years, has now been shortened to two years.
Chief Executive John Lee also vowed to tackle the subdivided flat issues by setting up a specific task force. With the goal to guarantee occupants’ living conditions in these flats, the team will propose methods to ban subdivided flats that do not meet the required standards, and further prevent sub-standard units from being built.
Despite Hong Kong’s notoriety for the long waiting time of public housing applications, Chief Executive John Lee stressed that the waiting time has been “capped.”
The waiting time has dropped from the peak of 6 years to 5.3 years under his governance, Lee said. The city’s leader hopes to further reduce the time to 4.5 years by 2027. More than 2,000 public housing units are expected to be ready five to eight months ahead of the original schedule within the first half of 2024.
The first batch of light public housing is expected to be constructed by 2025, Lee said. The idea was proposed in his Policy Address last year, with an aim to build 30,000 units in the coming five years (2027-2028).
Lee also predicted that 308,000 more units of public housing will be needed in the next decade and his administration has secured the land to build around 410,000 units.
An action agenda for the Northern Metropolis area will be disclosed soon, Lee said. The area will be divided into four regions, namely a high-end logistics hub, innovation and technology zone, a trade and industrial zone, as well as a “blue-and-green” eco-tourist circle.
An “education city” will also be built in government office buildings in Kwu Tung North, Hung Shui Kiu, to accommodate those moving into the area. Land will also be reserved for the development of post-secondary institutions, international schools, as well as art facilities.
Chief Executive John Lee expressed optimism in consolidating Hong Kong's position as an international trading hub.
Besides connecting to markets in Europe and America, Hong Kong will continue to expand the Belt and Road infrastructures in countries of ASEAN, Middle East, Central Asia, Africa.
Lee also expressed hope to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, adding that more Belt and Road commercial and trading offices have been planned.
John Lee said that a dedicated office and expert committee will be launched within next year to promote the establishment of an international legal talent training institute.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption, an anti-corruption body of Hong Kong, will also set up an anti-corruption academy to train professionals and serve as a platform for local companies and overseas experts to exchange ideas.
The government is set to implement the "Capital Investor Entry Scheme", Chief Executive John Lee announced. Qualified investors who have invested HK$30 million (USD 3.83 million) or more in stocks, funds, bonds and other assets (excluding real estate) in Hong Kong can apply to come to Hong Kong through the scheme.
【11:40】 More initiatives to attract overseas talent, enterprises
Chief Executive John Lee announced the expansion of the Top Talent Pass Scheme – a visa fast-track programme for talent recruitment proposed in his first Policy Address, adding more universities to the list of the scheme. Starting from November, the number of eligible universities will increase by eight to 184.
On top of that, Hong Kong will ease the visa application policy to attract more Vietnamese talents to come and work in the city. It will relax the requirements of a multi-entry visa for business travel and tourism.
Laos and Nepalese talents are also welcome to Hong Kong for employment, training and studying, Lee said. They can study in universities funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC).
In his Policy Address, Lee explained that the newly established Office for Attracting Strategic Enterprises has reached more than 200 key enterprises. Of which 30 of them are planning to set up offices or expand their business in Hong Kong, involving about HK$30 billion (USD 3.83 billion) new investment capital, which is expected to provide some 10,000 job opportunities.
The government is also set to roll out a company re-registration mechanism to facilitate companies registered abroad to move to Hong Kong. Lee said his administration aims to submit the proposal to the legislature early next year.
To attract more global talents to Hong Kong and China, foreigners working in Hong Kong registered companies can apply for multi-entry visas to mainland China starting from 26 October, Lee said. The visa will be available for two years or more and the processing will be expedited.
【11:14】Policy Address Live: Article 23 to complete legislation in 2024
Chief Executive John Lee announced his plans to finish the legislation of Article 23 by 2024.
Lee reiterated the importance of “one country, two systems” to ensure national security. Earlier this year, Xia Baolong, Director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said on National Security Education Day that the city needs to be on high alert for “soft resistance” and undercurrents.
In the foreword of his address, Lee took stock of his result-oriented administration over the last year. He mentioned the launch of Care Teams and schemes of attracting talents and professionals.
Lee said Hong Kong has recovered from Covid-19, and activities like “Hello, Hong Kong,” “Happy Hong Kong,” and “Night Vibes Hong Kong” have helped revive the economy. He was hopeful that the city’s economy will continue to improve.