HKSAR gov’t sees Greater Bay Area development as golden opportunity

HONG KONG, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) — The financial secretary of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government delivered Hong Kong’s annual budget on Wednesday, saying the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area offers golden opportunities for Hong Kong to explore new directions and open up new horizons.

To support implementation of various measures, the budget, themed “supporting enterprises, safeguarding jobs, stabilizing the economy, strengthening livelihoods,” provides new resources ready for use of about 150 billion HK dollars (about 19.1 billion U.S. dollars), with additional resources earmarked for various purposes.

“This demonstrates our determination to enhance public services, support enterprises, relieve people’s burden and invest for the future,” Financial Secretary of the HKSAR government Paul Chan said.

Under mounting external pressures, Hong Kong’s economic growth moderated from 4.1 percent in the first half of 2018 to 2.1 percent in the second half of the year, with growth for the fourth quarter at a mere 1.3 percent, the lowest since the first quarter of 2016, he said.

Overall, Hong Kong’s economy grew by 3 percent in 2018, at the lower end of the range projected in last year’s Budget but still higher than the trend growth rate of 2.8 percent over the past decade, he added.

Chan forecast a surplus of 58.7 billion HK dollars for 2018-19. Fiscal reserves are expected to reach 1,161.6 billion HK dollars by March 31, 2019; economic growth of 2 to 3 percent in real terms for Hong Kong in 2019.

He said the development of innovation and technology (I&T) will bring huge economic benefits to Hong Kong, adding that sufficient resources, with a commitment of over 100 billion HK dollars has been allocated in this area so far.

More efforts will be made to support scientific research and I&T sectors by developing I&T infrastructure, promoting research and development (R&D), pooling talent, supporting enterprises and promoting reindustrialization.

Talking about national development strategy, Chan emphasized that the Greater Bay Area development and the Belt and Road Initiative are providing rare opportunities for Hong Kong.

Chan said that the outline development plan for the Greater Bay Area, promulgated last week, is a milestone setting out the development directions for the Greater Bay Area up to 2035.

Hong Kong, positioned as international financial, transportation and trade centers as well as an international aviation hub in the Greater Bay Area, will strengthen its roles as a global offshore Renminbi business hub and an international asset and risk management center; and will devote great efforts to develop I&T industries as well as international legal and dispute resolution services, the financial chief said.

Meanwhile, the Belt and Road Initiative will create greater room for Hong Kong’s economic and social development. There has been positive outcomes in areas such as supporting industries in exploring markets, establishing business matching platforms for enterprises and encouraging Hong Kong’s professional services sector to participate in Belt and Road projects.

As for land supply, Chan said, the HKSAR government will ensure that adequate resources are provided to support fully the short, medium and long-term measures to increase land and housing supply.

The estimated public housing production for the next five years is about 100,400 units and the supply of first-hand private residential units is expected to remain at a relatively high level in the coming three to four years at about 93,000 units, according to Chan. (1 U.S. dollar = 7.84 HK dollars)

Source: Xinhua

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