City needs innovation bureau, says think tank

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 May, 2014, 4:10am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 May, 2014, 4:10am

A Beijing think tank has joined the growing chorus calling for Hong Kong to set up an innovation and technology bureau.

Professor Ni Pengfei, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' centre for city and competitiveness, said yesterday that Hong Kong was ranked 287th out of 294 cities nationwide when it came to government spending on IT, compared with its revenue.

Ni was in Hong Kong to discuss the academy's latest Blue Book, released early this month.

He said the city needed a bureau to tackle the issue. "I appeal to the Hong Kong government to set up an innovation [and technology] bureau," Ni said. "There are certain problems that the market cannot resolve by itself."

Two years ago, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's plan for a technology bureau was shelved after a filibuster. The plan is again before the Legislative Council, and subject to a filibuster by League of Social Democrats lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung. The government wants HK$30 million to set it up, but some pan-democrats have questioned the need for the bureau.

Early this month, Ni stirred debate when the annual Blue Book was released, saying Hong Kong's economic competitiveness could be harmed by tycoon Li Ka-shing reducing his investments in the city. He said Occupy Central's planned civil disobedience movement - to block streets in Central if the administration fails to come up with democratic reforms - also posed a threat.

But last year he said it was unlikely to have any effect on the economy. Yesterday he said: "I was not too familiar with the impact of Occupy Central last year … But after I carried out further studies, I reached what I consider an accurate [conclusion]."