Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying must set out his vision in the policy address on solving pressing problems in Hong Kong, instead of “wasting” resources by handing out cash, Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong said on Saturday.
As Leung’s maiden policy speech, to be announced on Wednesday, is seen as vital to salvage his flagging popularity, Lam’s remarks could be regarded as an attempt to cool down public expectations about possible “sweeteners”.
“[He must] absolutely not waste resources by handing out HK$1,000 - or HK$2,000 worth of electricity bill [allowances], or other small favours, to try to please the people,” Lam said. “I am strongly opposed to this because our resources are limited, and they must be used on long-term problems that have persisted and needed to be solved.”
Lam added that he expected Leung to explain his strategies on the city’s four key issues - housing, elderly, poverty and the environment. However, he could be forgiven for not having a detailed plan as advisory bodies, such as the Commission on Poverty and the Long Term Housing Strategy Committee, have just started discussions.
On Friday, a source said Leung was expected to raise the target for the construction of public housing flats by a third, from the current 15,000 units per year to 20,000 for the duration of the chief executive’s five-year term.
Michael Choi Ngai-min, a member of the Long Term Housing Strategy Committee, said reclamation and the building of new towns were good ways to increase land supply.
Meanwhile, Leung is also likely to announce that the levy on employers of foreign domestic helpers will be scrapped. The government announced in 2008 it would suspend the monthly HK$400 levy for five years to ease the burden on middle-class families.
The exemption period is due to end in July.