CE explains policy blueprint

October 8, 2021

(To watch the full programme with sign language interpretation, click here.)


Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the Northern Metropolis plan aims to transform the northern part of Hong Kong into a bustling and attractive area, adding the 20-year timeframe for the project is realistic.


Mrs Lam made the statement during a radio talk show this morning to highlight details of the new development plan that she unveiled in her 2021 Policy Address.


She said: "Within the 300 sq km, which is about 27% of Hong Kong's land mass, ultimately it will be a metropolis. We will plan on the basis of it being self-contained. It will have 650,000 jobs, as compared to just 110,000 jobs at the moment in the new town areas.


"(For) such a big plan, even without the Northern Metropolis strategy, it will take 10 to 15 years.

"Of course we want to do it faster. But we all know that there is a process in the development of new areas, so we will strive to do it as quickly as possible, but 20 years is a realistic timeframe.


"And one reason why we think we can even do it faster is because I have committed to fundamentally reviewing the various statutory and administrative procedures that will guide the development of land.”


Best opportune

Mrs Lam explained the rationale behind introducing such a massive undertaking as she winds down her term as the Chief Executive.


"The reason why at this point in time, in the last year of my term as the Chief Executive, I put this forward is because this is the first occasion that the Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) Government could do something that is visionary, that is long term and that we have confidence that we will be able to deliver.


"Because in the past year or so, two important decisions have been made by the central authorities. One is the National Security Law. The other is of course improvements to the electoral system, which will return a Legislative Council which is broadly representative of the interests of Hong Kong with 'patriots administering Hong Kong', and which is willing to engage with the Government and get things done."


The Chief Executive emphasised that the success of her Policy Address, given its title is Building a Bright Future Together, hinges on the support of the business sector.


"There are plenty of opportunities for the business people. It is not confined to the Northern Metropolis. It is actually laid out in the eight centres that we have the support of the nation in the 14th Five-Year Plan.


"Together with this Policy Address, we have taken a more innovative approach to publish what we call the fact sheets for each of the centres so that all business people know what are the prospects in front of them."


New era

She stressed that because the city is now very safe and stable, it is time for Hong Kong to embrace a new paradigm that includes making the Government more effective.


"So governance has to be improved, planning has to be more holistic and bold, and we are also setting a new beginning.


"I hope in time to come, Hong Kong people will realise this freshness. I have asked my colleagues in charge of infrastructure, highways and landscape to improve Hong Kong's cityscape.

"So this is really to give people that freshness that we are entering a new era after two very difficult years."


Mrs Lam also expressed her feelings about the future of Hong Kong as a global aviation hub, adding the Government has sought the central government’s support.


"The entire aviation industry has been hard hit by COVID-19. But if you look at the Hong Kong International Airport in terms of air cargo (traffic), we are still doing very well. Last year we did 4.5 million tonnes, which I think is the world's number one in terms of air cargo. And we are building, apart from the three runway system, modern logistics facilities on the airport island.

"So because our geographical location is almost perfect, we can reach half of the (world’s) population within four or five hours and we are really the hub in this part of the world."


Free flow of people

The Chief Executive said the Policy Address also outlined measures to help businesses have more access to the Mainland and the Greater Bay Area (GBA), especially for business people who do not have the relevant travel permits.


"This question about facilitating access has been put to me very clearly over the last two years when we discussed the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. Because in order for this Greater Bay Area to succeed, we have to ensure the free flow of people, talent, capital, data, and so on.


"So I put (forward) a proposal - it is a very concrete proposal, it is not just an idea - to the Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office earlier this year. It will be a sort of a revised form of visa or permit, or whatever you call it. But the ultimate objective is to facilitate the access of non-Chinese Hong Kong nationals to the Mainland cities of the GBA for business, for exchange, for research and so on.


"And the response is positive, and that is why they told me that we could have meetings before the end of this year to discuss the details of what form this facilitation should take in order to make access easier for expatriates, which will mean that Hong Kong will be more attractive in recruiting talent from overseas."

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