A high-powered think tank led by the first chief executive of Hong Kong has called for a fundamental change in the way the city formulates policy. In its third report since Tung Chee-hwa set it up in 2014, the Our Hong Kong Foundation says it is time to move away from a purely cost-benefit analysis when making policies to deal with the SAR’s growing social problems. In the report, entitled “Social Innovation for a Better Hong Kong”, the foundation led by Tung – who is now vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – called on authorities to take into account, in a systematic way, the social impact of policy decisions as well as considering the economic costs and benefits . Foundation member Bernard Chan, an executive councillor, said: “Traditionally output-based measurements such as GDP are probably the only benchmark. “But increasingly in a very complicated society, we are dealing with issues such that we can no longer use monetary terms to determine whether it is appropriate or good for Hong Kong”. Chan added that while the government has been assessing policies in non-monetary terms in the past, such as conducting environmental impact assessments, it was often on an ad hoc basis. But if such assessment could be done across the board, Chan believed the governance of the city could be improved. “Without such scientific data, bickering [over controversial issues] would worsen,” he said. The foundation proposed that one of the first steps the government could take would be changing its procurement policy to take into account the social value in selecting contractors. In addition to the costs of the goods and services, it would also need to consider whether the contractor provides employment to disadvantaged groups, such as the disabled or ethnic minorities, the report said. It also suggested the government should conduct an annual survey to assess whether its policies are improving Hongkongers’ well-being. Chung Kim-wah, director of Polytechnic University’s Centre for Social Policy Studies, welcomed the proposal, saying many people are increasingly concerned with the non-economic impact of government policies. But he doubted the government would be willing to conduct assessment in all policy areas. “These social impact assessment results would be used by pressure groups and political parties to challenge government policies. So [the government] would want to avoid such a situation,” he said. The foundation’s report also urged the government to boost growth of social enterprises in the city by providing them with loans. And in a bid to strengthen cooperation between the business sector and social innovators in the city, it has launched a platform called “Bees and Trees Alliance” to bring resources from both sides together to solve social problems.