Published: 01:36, March 1, 2024 | Updated: 14:58, March 1, 2024
Budget boosts economic vibrancy, embraces opportunities for high-quality development
By Sunny Tan

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government’s 2024-25 Budget, released on Wednesday, offers hope and new opportunities for Hong Kong. As a staunch supporter of the government’s comprehensive policy measures to attract enterprises, capital and talent, the Hong Kong Productivity Council (HKPC) welcomes the budget, which presents visionary and comprehensive policies for making Hong Kong an international innovation and technology (I&T) center. 

With the unwavering support from the central government and the leadership of the HKSAR government, we believe that Hong Kong can leverage its unique strengths under “one country, two systems” to achieve high-quality economic development through I&T.

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As one of the key facilitators in promoting new industrialization in Hong Kong, the HKPC will continue to fully support the HKSAR government in implementing relevant measures for the development of the I&T sector. Together, we can seize the opportunities ahead and build Hong Kong into an international I&T center and a smart city under the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).

Key drivers: I&T, new industrialization

The budget recognizes the fundamental importance of I&T in propelling Hong Kong’s economy forward. To keep up with the rapidly evolving global landscape, Hong Kong must adapt, transform its traditional industries, and strengthen its capabilities in strategic industries such as artificial intelligence, data science, advanced manufacturing and new energy technologies. 

The HKPC welcomes the government’s introduction of the New Industrialisation Acceleration Scheme with a substantial budget of HK$10 billion ($1.28 billion) and the AI Subsidy Scheme with a budget of HK$3 billion. These initiatives will attract top-notch enterprises and high-potential innovators to establish a presence in Hong Kong, fueling economic transformation and high-value development across the industry chain.

As a leading research and development institution in Hong Kong, the HKPC is committed to fostering cross-sector collaborations among industries, academia and research institutions. In line with our commitment to driving the city’s new industrialization through technological innovation, the HKPC has launched a flagship initiative with the theme “Hong Kong Got Industries” which serves as a landmark platform to showcase Hong Kong’s achievements and potential in new industrialization. The launch of the Future Manufacturing Hall at the HKPC later this year under this initiative will further drive Hong Kong’s new industrialization efforts and foster synergistic development with other cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA).

The HKPC welcomes the government’s decision to appropriate HK$45 million in the budget for the establishment and operation of the WIPO Technology and Innovation Support Centre. This center will promote I&T, safeguard research and development accomplishments, and facilitate intellectual property trade. The HKPC will collaborate with relevant government departments to ensure the center commences operations next year at the earliest, creating opportunities for local businesses and attracting foreign investors.

I&T talent is the key factor in enhancing overall competitiveness. The HKPC welcomes the government’s proposal of the STEM Internship Scheme to encourage university students to participate in I&T-related work. The HKPC is devoted to nurturing a new generation of “InnoTalent”. It will also create opportunities for young people from top universities worldwide and strengthen the local I&T talent pool.

Enhancing support for more SMEs

The government is committed to supporting SMEs by providing various funding programs and facilitating business expansion while driving digital transformation. The HKPC acts as a leading implementer, providing professional secretariat services for various government funding programs, including the BUD Fund (Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading and Domestic Sales). The HKPC welcomes the injection of HK$500 million to the BUD Fund announced in the budget, and the launch of E-commerce Easy through the BUD Fund, which will help SMEs to boost their competitiveness and tap e-commerce opportunities in the Chinese mainland and overseas markets.

The budget also mentioned several funding programs that support the local logistics industry, with the HKPC serving as the secretariat for key initiatives to enhance SMEs’ competitiveness, such as the Pilot Subsidy Scheme for Third-party Logistics Service Providers, the  Professional Training on Smart and Green Logistics Scheme, and the Logistics Promotion Funding Scheme.  

As a steadfast supporter of SMEs, the HKPC remains committed to creating value for them. The introduction of Biz Expands Easy Square in January facilitates SMEs and startups in accessing pertinent government funding information. The HKPC will continue to leverage its experience and advantages in supporting SMEs, assisting a greater number of them in upgrading, transforming, and ensuring their sustainable development.

Toward a greener future for HK 

Green development is the foundation of high-quality development. The HKPC is encouraged by the government’s various proposals in the budget to build a green future. As a leading research institution in Hong Kong, the HKPC welcomes the continued provision of resources by the government and will maintain close collaboration to develop green technologies, such as green transportation, green methanol and hydrogen energy. Practical applications of green technologies to protect the environment will be promoted to uplift Hong Kong into a greener and more livable smart city, which will also bolster Hong Kong to develop into an international green technology and financial center. 

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Going forward, the HKPC will fully support the government in leveraging Hong Kong’s strengths to achieve global pre-eminence through the development of I&T. The HKPC has been the recipient of over 200 notable research and development awards and recognitions, both locally and internationally, in recent years. The HKPC will provide one-stop innovative services to facilitate the industry and accelerate new industrialization in Hong Kong and the GBA, and support more enterprises to use Hong Kong as a springboard to tap the unparalleled opportunities presented by GBA development and the Belt and Road Initiative. 

As highlighted by the financial secretary during the budget announcement on Wednesday, the selection of a light apricot color for the cover of this year’s budget represents the first glimmer of dawn. This choice is meant to inspire hope, faith and confidence in Hong Kong’s bright future. In line with this sentiment, I believe that Hong Kong is well-positioned to embark on a more promising era of prosperity, with closer integration into the country’s overall high-quality development.

The author is chairman of the Hong Kong Productivity Council and a member of the Legislative Council.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.