CY Leung policy address 2014

Policy address revives plan for technology bureau

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 7:11am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 January, 2014, 2:15pm

The government is once again proposing an innovation and technology bureau as it looks for long-term solutions to sustain economic growth.

"I hope we can create an atmosphere that respects the sciences," Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said.

The Innovation and Technology Commission and the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer would be transferred to the bureau, he said.

In 2012, Leung shelved a plan to set up three new bureaus, including an IT and a cultural bureau, after lawmakers mounted a filibuster against them. But he said his latest proposal had the support of a majority of lawmakers.

"Hong Kong needs sustained economic growth to address issues such as poverty, housing, an ageing society, environmental protection and our young people's upward mobility," he said.

Government statistics showed the value added to the economy from cultural and creative industries from 2005 to 2011 grew at an average annual rate of 9.4 per cent, versus 5.5 per cent annual growth in nominal gross domestic product.

Other proposals to boost the economy include increasing the number of trade offices on the mainland and elsewhere in Asia to tap new markets, as well as starting negotiations for a free-trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Despite concerns that the city is becoming overcrowded, the government will not limit tourist inflows, because they contribute to local employment. Instead, it will build more hotels and tourism-related facilities on Lantau, targeting high spenders.

Business groups welcomed the overall direction, but wanted more specifics. They also expressed disappointment in the lack of measures to help the city's struggling small and medium-sized enterprises.

"We want to see the government follow the US in offering tax deductions to companies that do research and development," Institute of Directors chairman Dr Kelvin Wong Tin-yau said.

Institute of Certified Public Accountants president Clement Chan Kam-wing wanted more details of how the government would help local businesses capture opportunities arising from the mainland's rapid development.