Making best efforts to deliver tangible results
The new-term SAR Government has assumed office for more than one week. Under the leadership of the Chief Executive, the Government team is working in concert to take forward various areas of work in full speed. While each of us has our own duties, we all share the same goal: striving hard to fulfil people's aspirations for a better life. We know the Central Government has keen expectations on us, and our residents have high hopes to this end.
At the meeting celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to the motherland and the inaugural ceremony of the sixth-term Government of the HKSAR, President Xi Jinping's important speech expressed fully his sincere care for Hong Kong and our residents. President Xi set out "four proposals" for us, including further improving Hong Kong's governance, continuing to create strong impetus for growth, earnestly addressing people's concerns and difficulties in daily life, and working together to safeguard harmony and stability. They have provided clear directions for our work. The SAR Government has been holding sessions on "Spirit of the President's Important Speech" to allow our colleagues to have a deeper understanding of, and share what they have learned from, the important speech; and enable us to integrate the spirit and substance of the speech into our work. I believe the Government team and the community as a whole have high expectations on the Government in the coming few years, particularly as policies and measures need to be based on such development concepts as being "people-centered", continuing to enhance people's sense of achievement, satisfaction and security, etc.
To consistently strengthen Hong Kong's impetus for growth and address people's concerns and difficulties, land and housing are a pressing issue of paramount importance that needs to be addressed. As instructed by the Chief Executive, we have set up two groups dedicated to expediting land and housing supply on all fronts in a bid to streamline the procedures and processes, and enhance the co-ordination of inter-departmental work. We endeavour to expedite land creation and housing developments through improved efficiency and increased quantity, so as to foster more diversified development. The Steering Committee on Land and Housing Supply (the "Steering Committee") chaired by me will comprehensively oversee the various segments involved in land development, strengthen co-ordination of the relevant approval processes, and strive to unlock the development potential of private lands. Its areas of work cover the supply of land for residential, commercial, social welfare and community facility uses, etc., as well as the delivery of land for public and private housing. The Steering Committee will also ensure timely, high-level intervention to tackle problems arising in the relevant processes, and clear obstacles to development.
Specifically, the Steering Committee will comprehensively oversee the supply of land through coordinating the work of all relevant policy bureaux and departments in land development and housing supply, covering areas in planning, land administration, environment, transportation, infrastructure, and configuration of social welfare, leisure and cultural facilities. Moreover, it will consistently review the progress of land creation projects in their different stages from studies to site formation, so as to ensure that the supply of land for various uses would practically materialise. Meanwhile, the Steering Committee will also formulate and release periodically a ten-year supply forecast for developable land (i.e. "spade-ready sites") to increase transparency and facilitate public monitoring of the Government's work.
The Steering Committee will also ensure that a proper mechanism is in place for continuously implementing the "infrastructure-led" and "capacity-creating" approaches of development, so as to unlock the development potential of sites that are situated along land transportation routes and even in remote areas, through improved transport infrastructure. These approaches will not only help avoid impeding the progress of land supply due to obstacles in an area or two on the way, but also enable increases in plot ratios brought about by the timely provision of transport infrastructure, thus increasing land supply.
In addition, the Steering Committee will also steer the legislative amendment work relating to the streamlining of development-related procedures, such as those for the Town Planning Ordinance, the Foreshore and Sea-bed (Reclamations) Ordinance, the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance and the Lands Resumption Ordinance, so as to streamline and expedite statutory processes; avoid executing procedures of a similar nature by different departments repetitively; rationalise obsolete or ambiguous arrangements; provide mandate for government departments to proceed with certain procedures in parallel, etc. These will shorten the time involved in processes from planning to provision of developable "spade-ready sites". Moreover, the Steering Committee will formulate proposals on unlocking the development potential of private land and with a view to expediting land and housing supply in a holistic manner.
The Task Force on Public Housing Projects (the "Task Force"), headed by the Deputy Financial Secretary, is responsible for overseeing the construction of public housing with the objective of enhancing speed, quantity and efficiency. The scope of work includes monitoring the timely handover of sites earmarked for public housing projects; exploring various measures to expedite construction and intake; producing and updating forecasts of new public housing supply; deliberating and resolving cross-bureau or inter-departmental issues that affect the timely completion of public housing projects; as well as exploring and formulating measures to increase public housing supply.
The Task Force will, as expressly requested by the Chief Executive, submit a preliminary proposal for expediting the construction of public housing within the first 100 days of the new-term Government. It will include proposals for implementing the "Public Rental Housing Advance Allocation Scheme", devising plans for the division of work and coordination among various departments, re-introducing and enhancing the Private Sector Participation Scheme, compressing the building design process, as well as streamlining relevant works and inspection procedures. The objective is to expedite the completion of flats to increase the overall public housing production over the next five years.
These two high-level, inter-departmental groups are working in full speed and will hold their first meetings this week respectively. Under the strong leadership of the Chief Executive and the concerted efforts of the Government team, I believe the Government of this term will live up to President Xi's expectations, and actively respond to people's aspirations by pragmatically seeking to improve their livelihood and proactively addressing problems they face.
July 10, 2022