Low approval rate for Innovation and Technology Bureau, opinion poll shows

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As Uber, Airbnb rise in popularity across the world, Sharing Economy Alliance urges the ITB to catch up with the global trend by designing a legal framework that would facilitate sharing economy.

Photo: Simon Lee (right), convenor of The Sharing Economy Alliance, with HKUPOP research manager Frank Lee.

According to an opinion poll conducted by the Sharing Economy Alliance and Hong Kong University Public Opinion Programme, 61% of 636 respondents are dissatisfied with the Innovation and Technology Bureau’s (ITB) coordination with other bureaux on making policies regarding innovation and technology. In addition, 68% are dissatisfied with the ITB’s facilitation of cooperation between stakeholders.

Respondents also ranked Hong Kong the lowest among five Asian cities in terms of innovation and technology, scoring only 1.9 in average, behind Taipei (2.7), Shenzhen (2.8), Seoul and Singapore (both 3.8). The results show that Hongkongers believe the city is lagging behind when it comes to technology.

In addition, 73% of the respondents believe that the Hong Kong government is less open to the idea of sharing economy in contrast to other regions and cities. Meanwhile, 70% of the respondents agree that the government is too protective of stakeholders with vested interests.

The Sharing Economy Alliance, a group of local and international corporations and NGOs that support sharing economy in Hong Kong, calls for dialogue with the government and more policies from the ITB to facilitate sharing economy in Hong Kong.

“In comparison to other cities, where sharing economic activities are allowed or where sharing economic policies are in the process of consultation, we are totally lagging behind,” said Simon Lee, convenor of Sharing Economy Alliance.

Lee called on the government to provide a framework that would allow sharing economy to take place legally.

“What is so special about sharing economy is that it requires a legal framework, when you have a legal framework for it, both supply and demand grow,” he explained. “Many people [here in Hong Kong] would to like participate in sharing economy, but without a legal framework, they are taken aback.”

Lee also told HT that one of the Alliance’s priorities is car hailing services. “Transport is a burning issue right now,” he said. “Hongkongers are clearly dissatisfied with the way the government handles personalised and point-to-point transport services.”

The Alliance urged the government to establish a task force on sharing economy to engage stakeholders, and ultimately build a consensus for appropriate policy adaptations.