Hong Kong: In her maiden policy speech Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Wednesday warned the city faced "grave" challenges and must develop a diversified and high value economy, unveiling a mix of housing and tax relief policies to raise competitiveness.
The government has set a goal to double the Gross Domestic Expenditure on research and development as a percentage of the gross domestic product from the current 0.73 percent to 1.5 percent within the current-term government's five-year tenure, Lam said, adding that efforts in eight key areas, including resources for R&D, nurturing a talent pool, venture capital and scientific research infrastructure will be set up for Hong Kong to catch up in the innovation and technology race.
Lam also said she would address the city's astronomical housing prices by seeking to increase land supply and launch a new housing scheme to help middle-class families buy flats. Income inequality is at its highest level in over four decades in the city of 7.3 million people, stoking discontent that has seen large-scale protests in recent years over calls for more affordable housing as well as democracy.
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Chinese President Xi Jinping also voiced concern over the city's property market when he visited on July 1.
Hong Kong's property market is one of the world's most expensive, with an apartment of less than 200 square feet costing as much as $500,000. "Henderson Land Development will be the biggest beneficiary of farmland conversion, followed by New World Development and Sun Hung Kai Properties".
But tensions between Hong Kong and China have heightened in recent years amid concern over Beijing's interference in the former British colony, sparking large scale pro-democracy protests. "We need to have a society that is united, harmonious and caring", she said.
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