Hong Kong finance chief hopes support for innovative technology will be key to city’s economic recovery

Natalie Wong
·3-min read

Hong Kong’s finance chief hopes the government’s support for innovative technology will give the city’s economic recovery a boost as it battles the fourth wave of coronavirus infections.

Paul Chan Mo-po’s remarks came as authorities carried out an unprecedented operation to lock down one of the city’s most crowded districts.

Writing on his blog on Sunday, Chan said the pandemic had dealt a heavy blow to Hong Kong’s economy over the past year, and he “always cooperated fully financially” to ensure resources for anti-pandemic work, even during the latest lockdown of parts of Yau Tsim Mong district.

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Citing the examples of quarantine tracker wristbands, copper-lined reusable masks and touchless lift panels, the financial secretary said the government had been supporting the use of new technology to fight the pandemic.

He hoped the efforts would gradually yield results and inject fresh impetus to drive economic recovery.

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“Especially in the early stage of innovation and technology development, the government’s intervention and support are very important,” he said.

“Investing in public resources to help companies kick-start could create a favourable space for the innovation and technology industry to develop.”

To encourage the exchange of talent, Chan said the authorities had allowed 220 overseas tech professionals to work in Hong Kong since the Technology Talent Admission Scheme was launched in 2018. About 30 per cent of them had a doctoral degree, he said.

The government also provided more than HK$2 billion to 6,000 researchers to conduct projects in the city under the Research Talent Hub scheme that started last July, he said.

The Hong Kong government has been boosting the technology sector to diversify the city’s economy, as well as offer jobs to young people.

Under Beijing’s Greater Bay Area project, Hong Kong, Macau, and nine mainland Chinese cities are integrating to become a global finance and technology hub.

Hong Kong authorities have launched the GBA Youth Employment Scheme to encourage young people to seize opportunities on the mainland.

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As part of the scheme, the city government will grant a monthly allowance of up to HK$10,000 (US$1,290) to each of the 2,000 graduates employed for up to 18 months.

According to a poll conducted by Hong Kong’s largest pro-government party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, 78 per cent of young adults hoped to explore job opportunities in the Greater Bay Area, despite the cross-border political divide and travel restrictions because of Covid-19.

The DAB interviewed 312 people, aged 18 to 35, earlier this month in response to the GBA Youth Employment Scheme unveiled in the policy address.

Respondents ranked salary, living conditions and housing as their primary considerations, while nearly half of them believed job experience in the mainland would be beneficial to their career development.

Those who showed no interest in working across the border were mostly concerned about taxation issues, low salaries, and cultural differences on the mainland.

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