Published: 15:39, April 14, 2024 | Updated: 16:52, April 14, 2024
HK setting up unit to formulate policies on digital economy
By Zhang Tianyuan
Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po officiates at the launching ceremony of the Financial Mega Event Week at Central Government Offices on Mar 7, 2024. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will establish a new office to draw up digital policies in the middle of this year, and to harness technology and data to boost the digital economy and advance smart-city initiatives.

“Technology and innovation have become a crucial driver of productivity, with data being an indispensable factor. I&T-centered productivity is key to pushing Hong Kong’s economy toward high-quality development,” Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said in his Sunday blog.

Besides creating the new unit, he said the city plans to review laws and regulations on data governance and set clear guidelines for data collection and processing, while maintaining flexibility to respond to technology development.

As part of efforts to foster a comprehensive digital economy ecosystem, the SAR will strengthen the coverage of 5G networks, and offer support for enterprises in setting up computing and data centers.

In his 2023-24 Budget, Chan proposed the establishment of a supercomputing center, with the first phase of its services expected to be launched this year. The 2024-25 Budget includes a proposal to allocate HK$3 billion ($127 million) for a three-year artificial intelligence funding program to incentivize local universities, research and development institutions, and enterprises to utilize the center’s computing power to achieve scientific research breakthroughs.

The 2024-25 Budget has allocated about HK$300 million for the initiative, with plans to launch the platform by 2026

Chan said the government also aims to set up a platform for digital identity for enterprises. The platform will enable secure and convenient authentication for businesses using electronic government services or conducting online transactions, eliminating cumbersome procedures and reducing the risk of human error.

The 2024-25 Budget has allocated about HK$300 million for the initiative, with plans to launch the platform by 2026. The platform will provide four key services for 1.8 million Hong Kong enterprises, including enterprise identity verification, digital signing, authorized data retrieval from digital service systems for prefilled forms, and storage of electronic credentials for businesses.

Other measures to enhance the digital economy include attracting technology professionals from overseas, retaining and educating local talent, and subsidizing small and medium-sized enterprises in the catering sector to purchase digital solutions, such as e-payment, online marketing, and customer management. The support for SMEs is part of the pilot Digital Transformation Support Scheme launched by Cyberport last month. The program will be expanded to the retail sector, benefiting at least 8,000 eligible SMEs.

This month, Hong Kong will host the Business of Innovation and Technology Week, which will include government-funded innovation and technology signature events like the Digital Economy Summit and InnoEX, as well as the inaugural Hong Kong World Youth Science Conference.

“The series of events will bring together industry leaders and pioneers from Hong Kong and abroad to build a platform for exchanging ideas on the digital economy and the future of innovation and technology, adding momentum to the city’s economic growth,” Chan said.