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5 July 2013

CE warns labour shortage will hamper HK’s development

CE C Y Leung pointed out that HK’s workforce was projected to peak in 2018, warning that labour shortage thereafter would hamper the city’s economic development if it was not tackled in good time, the papers in wide coverage with five in inside-page leads reported his remarks made after the second Economic Development Commission meeting yesterday.

Mr Leung added that shortage of land and housing supply would also be a key challenge to HK’s sustainable economic development, particularly in attracting foreign investment and talents, saying that the issue would be discussed in the next meeting.

Reports noted that some commission members, including Raymond Ch’ien and Chow Chung-kong, held that there was a shortage in the lower and middle workforce strata and noted the need of importing labour.

Convenor of the commission’s working group on professional services Lau Ping-cheung, however, cautioned that labour importation was a politically sensitive issue on which a consensus had to be reached among the Government, political parties and the labour sector.

Reports quoted Jack So, convenor of working group on convention and exhibition industries and tourism, as forecasting that the number of hotel rooms in HK would have to be doubled in the next decade to cope with an expected surge in visitors after the completion of major infrastructural projects such as the HK-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the third runway.

Mr So urged the Government to develop more tourist spots in Kai Tak and Lantau and to proactively attract high-end visitors.

Stressing that a balance should be struck between attracting tourists and maintaining HK people’s quality of lives, Mr Leung said the Government would closely communicate with the CPG on the Individual Visit Scheme for Mainland visitors.

Mr Chow, working group on transportation convenor, proposed developing HK into a flight charter centre, estimating that the market would be worth US$170 billion, some papers reported.

Apple Daily in its headline criticised the commission for only making empty talks without suggesting any constructive measures.

Govt urged to give more progressive response on political reform

Exco convenor Lam Woon-kwong said the July 1 rally had reflected people’s strong demand for universal suffrage with a growing number of people hoping that the Government would start public consultation on constitutional reform early or at least offer a timetable, urging the Government to give a more progressive response, some papers in moderate coverage reported.

He suggested SCMA Raymond Tam show the Government’s sincerity in heeding opinions before the consultation and engaging lawmakers on the issues.

On CE C Y Leung’s repeated remarks that the consultation would be launched at an appropriate time, Mr Lam said if this jargon was used frequently, people would start to doubt if the Government was simply procrastinating.

A few papers noted that Hao Tiechuan, Liaison Office’s director general of the Department of Publicity, Cultural and Sports Affairs, in his new book said he felt puzzled by the Occupy Central campaign like many HK people, quoting Exco member Cheung Chi-kong’s criticisms against the organisers for launching the campaign before the Government published its constitutional reform proposal.

Mr Hao opined that the suggestion of allowing those who could obtain nominations from 100,000 people to enter the 2017 CE race was tantamount to challenging the BL and the NPCSC’s decisions.

Occupy Central organiser Chan Kin-man questioned Mr Hao’s authority in interpreting the BL, holding that he was not familiar with the thoughts of HK citizens.

In a related development, a few papers reported that the Tai Po, Eastern and Kowloon City DCs yesterday passed a motion of opposing Occupy Central.

HK 2020 in a statement yesterday hit out at the editorial of the Global Times, which said the July 1 rally in HK had become a new traditional ritual and that some HK people had acted in a « spoilt manner », for playing down the impact of the people’s fight for democracy and their passion for universal suffrage, a few papers noted.