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HK address responds to public calls

By Gu Mengyan in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-18 09:33
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SAR govt turns attention to livelihood issues such as affordable housing

Social groups in Hong Kong said that this year's policy address by the special administrative region's chief executive has answered calls to remedy the problem of increasingly unaffordable housing and solve the deadlock in acquiring more land for public housing.

The two pressing social issues have been acknowledged in an effort to underpin the recent unrest in Hong Kong.

On Wednesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor proposed building more public housing units on private land and pledged to provide 10,000 units within the next three years.

The Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong expressed confidence that the measures will help alleviate the current situation and rebuild people's confidence in the government.

The address was also welcomed by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, which said the wide-ranging initiatives are expected to help Hong Kong's economy and society "ride through the current challenges and prepare for the future".

Peter Lam Kin-ngok, chairman of the council, especially welcomed the government's support for embattled small and medium-sized enterprises, which are suffering from the continued social unrest and economic uncertainties from the trade war.

The government offered a package of measures to support SMEs, such as providing funds for promotion and facilitating loans.

Peter Lam said he expected the initiatives to help them open new markets, including the Chinese mainland, and countries and regions that are part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Meanwhile, some groups called for the government to pay attention to problems not covered in the policy address.

The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions called for more economic relief to front-line employees whose livelihoods have been undermined by the economic downturn triggered by monthslong anti-government protests.

In addition, the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers said it wants to ensure campuses are free of political disputes. It also suggested the government attach more importance to problems such as the shortage of teachers and the relatively low salaries of kindergarten instructors.

Also on Thursday, a question-and-answer session for Carrie Lam to answer lawmakers' queries about the address was suspended twice, and at least 10 opposition lawmakers were dispelled from the venue for improper behavior.

During the session, LegCo chairman Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen stressed repeatedly that many citizens look forward to learning more details of the address and lawmakers should take the chance to raise questions for their voters instead of causing disruptions.

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