Business community welcomes “pragmatic and inclusive” proposals in policy address

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But the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce warns of “unintentional side effects” by the new government’s housing plans and expresses disappointment over a lack of measures to address the manpower problem the city is facing.

(Government photo)

The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce said in a press statement that it welcomes “pragmatic and inclusive” proposals outlined in Carrie Lam’s maiden policy address yesterday.

In particular, the business organisation praised Lam’s proposals to personally lead a high‑level Steering Committee on Innovation and Technology to foster the city’s innovation and technology development, offer tax reduction on R&D expenditure, set up a two-tier profits tax system to help SMEs, as well as to demolish government buildings in Wan Chai to make way for more convention and exhibition facilities.

Read also: Highlights of Carrie Lam’s maiden Policy Address

“The very attractive rate of 8.25% will not only help SMEs survive by reinvesting their hard-earned money back into their business, it will also encourage local and international budding entrepreneurs to launch their start-ups in Hong Kong,” Chamber Chairman Stephen Ng noted on the profits tax proposal.

However, the Chamber stated concerns over the government’s home-ownership schemes and warned of “unintentional side effects” of distorting property prices. It also expressed disappointment as the policy address only offered a light touch on how to reinforce the city’s manpower.

Read also: Simon Lee: Carrie Lam shows better understanding over government apparatus in policy address

“The healthcare, construction, IT, hospitality, and other sectors have long been struggling from a dire lack of skills and manpower as unemployment has been at its lowest rate in 20 years. On top of this, our workforce will start shrinking next year, so we think now is the time to look seriously at the need to match talent and import labour to address these acute shortages,” Ng asserted in the statement.

The debate over manpower, or rather on imported labour, also saw a brief and indirect exchange of words between two pro-establishment lawmakers, namely Felix Chung of Liberal Party and Kwok Wai-keung of the Federation of Trade Unions, during a LegCo Q&A session on the policy address.