Tung Chee-hwa is set to map out strategies aimed at solving the budget deficit and speeding up integration with the flourishing Pearl River Delta region in one of his most important policy addresses next month. With the delivery of the blueprint on January 8 just a month away, officials say there is an 'emerging consensus' that the two issues should be a priority. But officials have admitted privately that difficulties remain in reaching an agreement on ways to reduce the deficit. And there are few signs of early breakthroughs on cross-border initiatives such as the building of a Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge. Traditionally scheduled for the first or second Wednesday of October, Mr Tung's first policy address for his second term has been deferred to allow more time for ministers to settle in. A deferral will also improve co-ordination between the policy blueprint and the Budget in March. Mr Tung and his ministers have discussed the broad strategy of the address over the past few months, and in the past few weeks the chief executive has consulted major parties and groups. Central Policy Unit head Lau Siu-kai said: 'Everybody talked about the deficit and Pearl River Delta region integration. We have begun to see an emerging consensus. The development so far has been positive.' Professor Lau said Mr Tung's address would be like a political manifesto on core beliefs, broad directions and key issues. 'He will certainly respond to issues close to the heart of people . . . It will be a confidence-building and inspiring speech,' he said. According to an Executive Council member, the chief executive is likely to adopt the approach of America's state of the union speech in his address. 'He will only talk about major themes and grand visions. Policy secretaries will hold separate press conferences to give an account of their own portfolios,' said the Exco member. He said Mr Tung would also talk about the need for greater social cohesiveness and the whole community to share responsibility in tackling the budget deficit. Another Exco member said Mr Tung needed only to give broad direction in his blueprint, leaving details to his ministers. 'But since this will be his first speech in his second term, some suggested that Mr Tung should still address some of his major policies,' he said. A senior official observed: 'Mr Tung is always quite unpredictable. Things can change at the last minute. But the issue of the budget deficit is definitely one that he has to talk about. 'As for the bridge, the Guangdong governor has indicated clear reservations. As for a 24-hour crossing, the Shenzhen mayor apparently did not think there was any urgency.' He said the bridge project was the most likely mega plan that could bolster confidence, similar to the Disney theme park project, but added it would take time to get support from Guangdong. Outgoing Guangdong governor Lu Ruihua voiced concern over the impact of the cross-border bridge during Mr Tung's visit to Guangzhou last week, and Shenzhen Mayor Yu Youjun has cast doubt about the demand for a 24-hour border crossing. Another senior official maintained they had not expected concrete progress on the bridge issue during Mr Tung's visit. 'Everyone knows Mr Lu's position on the bridge, he will oppose it as long as he's in power. But don't forget he's retiring soon,' he said. It was important for Mr Tung to say thanks to him, but more important for him to meet his successor, Zhang Dejiang, he added.