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Wednesday, July 6, 2016, 00:50

SAR govt performance sound: Report

By Li Yinze

HONG KONG - The SAR government had given a sound performance on both economic and social fronts in the past year, according to the annual official work report released on Tuesday.

The report highlighted the lowest number of poor members of the population since data was available in 2009 and a record-high projected residential housing supply since the first release of such reports in 2004.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying urged the community to monitor the government’s work. It could then offer opinions in order to make the city a better place.

As of the end of April 2016, the overall caseload under the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme registered a continuous decrease of 61 months to 242,308 cases, the lowest in 14 years, involving 359,390 recipients.

The progress was made through fiscal input into social welfare, according to the report. In 2016-17 government recurrent spending on social welfare will reach HK$66.2 billion. This accounted for 19 percent of the government's recurrent expenditure - second only to education.

Welfare expenditure has increased by 55 percent, compared with the HK$42.8 billion spent in 2012-13 when the current government commenced, according to the report.

The projected land supply from the first-hand residential property market for the coming three to four years amounted to approximately 92,000 units. This is a record-high since the first release of the quarterly statistics on supply in September 2004.

The report noted 53 of the 150 potential housing sites identified in Leung’s 2014 Policy Address have completed the statutory plan amendment processes and are estimated to provide a total of about 66,100 flats as of mid-June 2016, of which over 50 percent are set for public housing.

Plans for another 15 sites have also begun and will, upon completion, provide some 17,700 flats, the report said.

Education was also highlighted in the report. An estimated 70 to 80 percent of half-day kindergarten places will be free as the SAR government announced free quality kindergarten education policy from the next school year.

The report further cited the CE's proposal for injecting HK$1 billion into a scholarship fund to promote student exchanges between Hong Kong and countries and regions included in the Belt and Road Initiative.

In terms of innovation and technology, over HK$18 billion, announced in the first quarter of this year, will be allocated to launch a range of initiatives. This is to promote the development of industry - including providing support to startups, facilitating small and medium-sized enterprises to upgrade, the report wrote.

The 47-page report entitled “Improving Livelihood, Building for the Future” has been uploaded to the website of the Chief Executive's Office for public viewing.

Leung pledged that he and his government will carry out their duties under the watchful eye of the public. He said that he looked forward to hearing feedback from all sectors of society.

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