A group of Legislative Council members from the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA) today (November 22) met with the Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, and the Financial Secretary, Mr John Tsang, to present the Alliance’s proposals on the Policy Address and the Budget of Hong Kong 2013.
Speaking after the meeting, Chairman of the Alliance Mr Andrew Leung said that the BPA, founded in October with the mission “Business drives economy; Professionalism improves livelihood”, and drawing from members’ pool of expertise and experience, was committed to representing the voice of small and medium-sized enterprises and the middle class, promoting Hong Kong’s overall development and doing real good things for the general public.
“Whilst Hong Kong’s economy seems to be faring well these days, its continuous growth is shrouded by an uncertain global environment. With the rise of the populist sentiment, our society is engulfed in arguments over various issues. Against this backdrop, we believe that our government should keep abreast of people’s needs and aspirations, find the courage to stand firm on what’s right and wrong, and has a vision that prepares Hong Kong for any adversity ahead. That’s what the BPA aspires to do for Hong Kong,” said Mr Leung.
Hong Kong takes its pride in being ranked “world’s freest economy” by the Heritage Foundation over the past 18 years. The Alliance believes the government should exercise extra caution in being “appropriately proactive”, since any overkill will jeopardize the city’s long successful and world-renowned market-oriented economy and scare away foreign investment, to the detriment of Hong Kong’s long term development.
Mr Leung hoped that the new administration could lead the public in a rational dialogue over community issues, formulate and implement policies that really help people across all spectrums, based purely on fairness and not tilting in favour of any particular group or affiliation.
On the Policy Address and the Budget of Hong Kong, the BPA has made more than 100 proposals ranging from economic development, people’s livelihood to Hong Kong/Mainland co-operation, which are all forward-planning to enhance Hong Kong’s competitiveness and living environment.
Proposed policy initiatives:
(1) Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
- ● Low tax rate for SMEs
- ● In view of increasing global competition and the dismal economic outlook, we propose that the profits tax rate for SMEs with annual profits below $3 million be reduced to 10 per cent, so that they can be better positioned to re-invest and enhance their competitiveness
- ● Drawing from the experience of reducing salaries tax, the government should consider introducing a corporate tax waiver amount to reduce the burdens of SMEs
- ● Extending, by another year, the application period for special concessionary measures under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme of the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation Limited
- ● As for Hong Kong SMEs operating in the Mainland, we urge the government to discuss with the Mainland to take appropriate measures and help them obtain sufficient loan for b business; and re-introducing the Special Loan Guarantee Scheme if and when necessary
- ● The government should consider setting up a “Brand Names Selection Committee” which comprises brand name management experts and business representatives, with the task of selecting 100 brand names that provide good-quality and original products and another 100 brand names that provide outstanding services, and then helping these brand names to promote their businesses in major cities on the Mainland. The government should also consider launching a “100% Hong Kong Fashion” website to promote Hong Kong brand names in the Mainland market
(2) Environment/Green economy
- ● The government should continue to waive the First Registration Tax (FRT) for buyers of zero-emission electric vehicles, and raise the FRT reduction rate to 50 per cent for buyers of environmentally friendly petrol private cars, with the cap to be increased to HKS100 000 per car
- ● The government should provide grants to vehicle owners to assist them in replacing their pre-Euro, Euro I and II commercial vehicles
- ● The government should revise air pollution parameters and tighten emission standards for commercial vehicles
- ● Hong Kong should develop bio-fuel technology and make use of food waste for power gas. The government should provide policy incentives for the setting up of such plants in the Tai Po Industrial Estate, introducing food waste recycling facilities in housing estates, and reducing or waiving land premiums for such facilities
(3) People’s livelihood/Middle class
- ● The sandwich class and the middle class bear the brunt of economic uncertainty and soaring property prices. The government should consider setting a fund of $1 billion to help the unemployed to change fields as self-employed or start their own business
- ● The BPA has submitted proposals on child education expenditure allowance for tax reduction to reduce the burden of the middle class
- ● As far as health care is concerned, we propose that the Elderly Health Care Voucher amount entitled by each 70-year-old eligible elder be increased from $500 to $2000 per year
(4) Hong Kong/Mainland co-operation
- ● The government should introduce special tax provision for frontier workers
- ● We propose that the government should draw reference from the special tax provision for “frontier workers” in Europe and allow residents who frequently work between Hong Kong and Guangdong Province and return to their place of origin at least once a week to be regarded as “frontier workers” and be obliged to pay tax only to their place of origin. Such a measure will encourage more Hong Kong people to work across the boundary and facilitate integration with the Mainland, helping particularly the development of high-value-added businesses in the Pearl River Delta Region, such as financial and professional services