In a break with tradition, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (pictured) will delay his first policy address until January.
The deferral from October, the month Donald Tsang Yam-kuen deliver his annual policy blueprints, is to give the government time to build a constructive partnership with the Legislative Council that will be elected next month, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said.
The speech is one of the biggest events in the political calendar.
Lam said: 'The only reason the chief executive decided to deliver his policy address on January 16 is that we want to have sufficient time to communicate with the legislators of the new term so that we can better understand their views and reflect them in his maiden policy address.'
The Legco election takes place on September 9.
Asked if future policy addresses in Leung's term would also be delivered in January, the Chief Executive's Office said: 'The government will take an open attitude, taking practical experience and the public's views into consideration.'
Tsang followed colonial tradition and delivered all his policy addresses in October, as did Tung Chee-hwa during his first five-year term.
But in 2003, 2004 and 2005 Tung moved the speech to January on the grounds that the shift would allow better co-ordination with the unveiling of the budget in late February or March and help departments and bureaus implement policy more efficiently.
Lam said Leung's decision 'has nothing to do with the budget and will not affect [the delivery] of the budget'. She added: 'We will prepare the budget as usual and next year's budget will be announced on February 27.'
Lam dismissed suggestions that the deferral of the policy address would affect the introduction of initiatives on livelihood issues.
She said: 'The chief executive has also said when a particular measure or a particular initiative is ready, the government will roll out that initiative. We will not adopt the practice of saving all those initiatives for ... the policy address.'
Instead of making a policy speech, Leung will address Legco on October 17 to elaborate on his concept of governance, review progress made in the first three months of the new government and outline his policy directions and priorities for the next year.
Ma Ngok, a professor of government and public administration at Chinese University, said Leung's decision to defer the speech was a sign of caution.
Meanwhile, in an article published in eight major Chinese- language newspapers yesterday, Leung said the government must first strive for economic development to improve people's livelihoods.
'For the government to work, it must have the space, energy and time to plan for how to make use of opportunities and overcome external deadlocks,' Leung said.
Referring to the crisis in Europe, he said his administration would prepare for a possible global recession.
Leung added that a preparatory working group on developing Chinese medicine would be appointed soon. He said work on long-term projects to help the poor and develop the economy had also started.