Over 220 policy recommendations were put forward by the BPA for the 2016 Policy Address and Budget in its submission entitled “Seize the Opportunities to Shape the Future of Hong Kong”.
At a meeting today (November 24), the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong (BPA) presented over 220 proposals to the Chief Executive, Mr Leung Chun-ying, and the Financial Secretary, Mr John Tsang Chun-wah.
Mr Andrew Leung, BPA Chairman, pointed out that many of the middle-class and the young were unhappy and had expressed this through votes casted at the recent District Council Election. In this connection, the Government should look to improve its public governance in such areas as the controversial Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA). The Government should also cooperate with Legislative Councillors to improve administrative efficiency, face challenges, and capture opportunities particularly those arising from the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, as well as technological innovation.
Mr Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, BPA Vice Chairman, said that the Chief Executive had listened carefully to the BPA’s proposals and was confident that the Government would give serious consideration to the proposals. Dr Lo Wai-kwok, BPA Vice Chairman, added that the Chief Executive was particularly interested in ways innovation and technology could promote Hong Kong’s development.
At the meeting, the BPA also urged the Government to improve the operating environment. Mr Jeffrey Lam said that the BPA had proposed re-introducing the “Special Loan Guarantee Scheme” with a new loan guarantee of HKD100 billion, developing Hong Kong into a regional Business-to-Customer (B2C) business centre by reviewing and relaxing existing regulations, and lowering property rates by 1 percentage point to 4% to provide relief to businesses and the public.
Mr Christopher Cheung Wah-fung, BPA Vice Chairman, suggested that Hong Kong should capitalise on the rapid growth in internet finance to develop more internet financial products under the Mutual Recognition of Funds (MRF) arrangement between the Mainland and Hong Kong for eventual listing on the Hong Kong stock market. He also hoped that Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) would consider the challenges faced by the financial industry and waive the annual licensing fee for 2 years.
Foster Economic Growth
- Recruit experts from the business, finance and construction and professional sectors in the establishment of a “One Belt, One Road Committee” to oversee cross-departmental coordination in bidding for Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) ministerial conferences to be held in Hong Kong; Leverage on Hong Kong’s common law system and rule of law principle to promote the SAR as a premier regional seat for commercial arbitration and mediation.
- Incorporate quality small- and mid-cap stocks into the initial tranche of tradable shares on the launch of the “Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect”; Lobby Mainland authorities on eliminating the RMB500,000 requirement on Chinese investors to qualify for a “Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect” investment and cash account.
- Relaunch “Special Loan Guarantee Scheme” (that was open for applications on 15 December 2008 and closed on 31 December 2010) and provide HKD100 billion loan guarantee to help enterprises secure loans from banks.
- Allow online application of travel permits to Hong Kong for existing 49 Individual Visit Scheme (IVS) Mainland cities before gradually extending this to all Chinese citizens.
Respond to the Aspirations of the Public and SMEs
- The Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) has strayed from its intended objective as an assessment tool and become a taxing imposition on students who are subject to intensive academic drilling from Primary One. The Government should review TSA and its effectiveness for the benefit of our children and suspend the scheme for Primary Three students until such a review has been completed.
- Yes to the retention of the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) offset mechanism and no to the introduction of legislation on standard working hours due to the financial strain that could be imposed on SMEs.
- Lower profits tax to 10% for SMEs with annual profits of less than HKD2 million to encourage investments.
- Reduce property rates by 1 percentage point to 4% to provide relief to enterprises and the public; Offer rates concession to all ratepayers for two quarters subject to a ceiling of HKD2,500 per quarter for each ratable tenement.
- Lighten the tax burden on taxpayers by such measures as raising the basic allowance for salaries tax to HKD140,000, broadening the salaries tax band, and reducing salaries tax and personal assessment subject to a ceiling of HKD20,000.
- Provide a one-off grant of HKD5 billion in relation to the “Universal Accessibility” programme to facilitate the outsourcing of construction works to the private sector as a means of reducing costs and shortening completion of projects under the Original and Expanded Programmes.
Create Opportunities for the Next Generation
- Subsidise schools’ efforts to establish mutual support groups and organise inter-school activities for the purpose of improving students’ English standards.
- Establish a “One Belt, One Road Placement Fund” to provide and fund student internships programmes in “One Belt, One Road” countries; Set up a training centre either in a tertiary institution or as a free-standing facility for nurturing talents under the “One Belt, One Road” development strategy.
- Increase the ceiling available to qualified applicants under the Continuing Education Fund (CEF) to HKD25,000 per person and extend the reimbursement period to encourage continuing education.
- Leverage on the local movie and television industries to create a multicultural environment and cultivate innovation in Hong Kong; Let out vacant market stalls for holding such events as “Creative Bazaars’ on public holidays to provide business and creative opportunities for young people.
- Rezone 3% of Hong Kong’s green belt land to provide approximately 270,000 affordable apartments for middle class and young families; Review the effectiveness of measures to curb rising property prices and wind these down as appropriate.
BPA representatives met with the Chief Executive, Mr Leung Chun-ying, and the Financial Secretary, Mr John Tsang Chun-wah.
BPA Council Chairman Dr Peter Lam Kin-ngok (right) attended the meeting and shared his views with the Chief Executive, Mr Leung Chun-ying (left).
BPA Vice Chairman Mr Christopher Cheung Wah-fung (left) in a light moment with the Financial Secretary, Mr John Tsang Chun-wah (right).
BPA Legislative Council Members met with the press.