Tsang’s final Policy Address will take place in October 2011. The government is seeking public input on three particular areas: housing and home-ownership issues, the ageing population and the wealth gap. Concerns the public express may be incorporated into the 2011-12 Policy Address and the subsequent 2012-13 Budget.
Tsang’s achievements are well-documented in the government website. Below is just a tiny insight into the issues for which the Administration is seeking input from the public. But considering the challenges we face, what else can be done?
Donald Tsang’s final Policy Address will take place in October 2011. The Administration hopes that by opening up the process of formulating the Policy Address and deciding next year’s Budget, resources can be allocated more efficiently and effectively to meet policy objectives.
Government expenditure for 2011-12 is estimated to reach $378.2 billion. $242.1 billion of this is recurrent expenditure. Recurrent expenditure has increased by 8.5% from 2010-11, and is 20% higher when compared with 2007-08. Government expenditure increases have exceeded GDP growth.
So where is the money going?
Education, social welfare and health account for 56.4% of recurrent government expenditure.
Public Rental Housing (PRH)
% of Hong Kong households in PRH: 30.8% (721,300)
Aim: meet the needs of low-income families who cannot afford private rental accommodation, with a target of maintaining an average waiting time for general applicants to around 3 years.
Production is expected to increase by almost 50% by 2015/16.
2011/12 production of PRH: 11,200
2015/16 forecast production of PRH: 16,700
Private Permanent Housing
% of Hong Kong households in PRH: 52.4% (1,227,300)
Hong Kong property prices are notoriously high and are only getting higher.
As of May 2011, overall housing prices exceeded the 1997 peak by 7% (26% for larger flats, i.e. 100 sq m or above).
The government estimates that around 59,000 private residential flats will be made available in the next three to four years in the primary market, of which 37 000 (63%) are expected to be small to medium sized flats.
According to the latest projection of the Census and Statistics Department, people aged 65 or above will increase from
2009: 0.89 million (13% of population)
2019: 1.33 million (17% of population)
2029: 2.06 million (25% of population)
2039: 2.49 million (28% of population)
With these dramatic changes, Government expenditure on elderly welfare and services will also have to change. In 2011-12, the estimated total Government expenditure on elderly welfare and services is about $39.6 billion, including social security ($17.9 billion), elderly care services ($4.4 billion) and healthcare services ($17.3 billion), representing 16.4% of Government’s recurrent expenditure.
Hong Kong’s economic growth has been impressive over the last decade. But it’s no secret that Hong Kong has one of the biggest wealth gaps in the world. There is a lot of evidence that the wealth gap in Hong Kong is getting worse. However, to the government the problem is getting better and points out that a raising Gini coefficient does not necessarily indicate worsening poverty.
Real GDP growth: 7.2% (between Q1 2010 and Q1 2011)
Unemployment rate in Q2 2011: 3.5% (from 5.5% in 2009)
Real labour wages increase: 0.2% (between March 2010 and March 2011.)
Real labour earnings increase: 3.2% (between Q1 2010 and Q1 2011)
CSSA caseload: down 3% compared with 2009
Some ideas being put forward
- Resumption of subsidized housing under the Home Ownership Scheme (復建居屋)
- Measures to curb property prices (措施壓抑樓價)
- Measures to ease inflation (措施紓緩通脹)
- Free medical services for the elderly (長者提供免費醫療服務)
- Ax the absence restrictions on CSSA payouts and elderly allowances (取消老人生果金及綜援的離港限制)
- Use caution if establishing a universal retirement plan (如推出泛民建議的全民退休保障計畫，將會帶來後遺症)
- Lower profits tax
- Lower salaries tax (議寬減薪俸稅)
- Improve and monitor the quality of hostels for the elderly
- Creation of more tourist attractions to make the territory more attractive to tourists
- Converting industrial buildings into residential (研究把工廈改建成限呎樓)
- Help young people buy property (政府資助年輕人置業)
- Reduce the burden public transportation costs (低下階層在交通費的負擔)
- Relax the application requirements for the Continuing Education Fund (放寬持續進修基金的申請資格)
- Government-sponsored activities for young people (政府資助年輕人參與課外活動)
- More public housing (增建公屋)
- Build 33,000 public housing units per year and reduce the waiting time to two years – Federation of Trade Unions (增建公屋至每年3萬3千個，將輪候時間縮短至兩年)
- Build 5,000 home ownership scheme flats per year (每年興建5000個居屋單位) – DAB
- Build up to 4,500-6,000 home ownership scheme flats per year – Federation of Trade Unions (每年興建4500至6000個居屋單位)
- Improve the cramped living environment (擠逼戶及改善市民的居住環境)
- Speed up the progress of Minor Works Programmes (加快地區小型工程進度)
- Extend some of the current budget relief measures, e.g. subsidised electricity bills, waiving public housing rent, additional CSSA payments (延續今年財政預算案的部分紓困措施，例如補貼電費、代交公屋租金、及發放額外綜援金等)
- Waive rateable values for buildings by $8,000 per household (寬免差餉時)
- Standardized working hours (標準工時)
- Review the Employment Ordinance (檢討僱傭條例，劃清聘用及自僱的分別)
- Raise Health Care Voucher amount to $1000 (醫療券金額提升至1千元)
- Re-introduce loan guarantee schemes so SMEs can obtain bank loans in the face of global market uncertainty and pressures to tighten lending (受歐美股市動盪影響，香港有不少銀行面對收緊貸款壓力，希望政府重新推出特別信貸保證計劃，讓中小企可向銀行貸款)
- Stand by past commitments, e.g. the 10 major infrastructure projects (交代過往作出的承諾，如十大基建)
- Tax rebates for the middle-class (中產退稅)
- Rent allowances and grants for the grassroots (租金免稅及基層市民補助)
Just a public relations gimmick?
Critics have called the public consultation mere ‘window dressing’.
Democratic Party chairman and legislator Albert Ho Chun-yan said, “It is not realistic for him to talk about long-term planning. His term will end in one year. He has failed to resolve the problems in the past six years [since he was first appointed as the chief executive in 2005], I do not think he can manage to resolve them in one year.”
Dr James Sung Lap-kung, a political affairs observer at City University: “Tsang only wants to show the people that he is not totally a lame duck and is still trying to so something in the last year of his term.”
Can any long-term measures be able to be put in place?
This is Tsang’s final address and budget, there are worries that they will be “stop gap”. Although he has said he will not shy away from long-term policies, he is unable to guarantee that the next administration will continue to implement them.
Tsang’s only reassurance was: “As long as the policies are precise and can respond to the needs of the public, I do not worry that my successor will not continue with the measures.”
|11 October 2011||End of Consultation|
Further information from the government
Further information from non-government sources
‘施政報告財案合併諮詢 特首:助分配資源 議員:免互相卸責’, 明報, 29 July 2011
Make yourself heard
You are invited to submit your questions, comments and concerns for consideration in the 2011-2012 Policy Address and 2012-13 Budget, send them in before 11 October 2011.
Email address 電郵: firstname.lastname@example.org
(4) Readers Comments
May 22, 2013
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