Summary and Our Views on the 2024-25 Budget

1. Property Market

The Government is proactively launching market stabilising measures given the latest market dynamics. Moreover, while the government maintains its policy of boosting land and housing supply to expand Hong Kong’s development scope and capacity, it has also made precise allocation of limited resources to invest in the future. We welcome the complete withdrawal of spicy measures, as it would help stimulate property transactions and increase liquidity, which has a positive impact on the long-term development of the market.

2. Digital Transformation

We also support the Government subsidising the digital transformation of SMEs in the catering and retail sectors. Apart from the catering and retail sectors, we suggested that the Government could also promote Hong Kong's image as a hospitable city from the transport perspective, for example, by subsidising the digital transformation of the taxi trade, enhancing the booking and e-payment systems on the taxi platforms, and installing a service rating function.

3. Supporting SMEs

We welcome the Government's efforts to address the capital flow problems of start-ups and SMEs, including the extension of the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme (SFGS) and the increase in its total loan guarantee commitment, as well as the continued enhancement of the BUD Fund. Some funding schemes under the ITF, such as the "Research Talent Hub for Incubatees and I&T Tenants of the HKSTPC and the Cyberport (RTH-SPC)" and the " Public Sector Trial Scheme for Incubatees & Graduate Tenants of HKSTPC and Cyberport (PSTS-SPC)", have the problem of not providing downpayment, which has made it difficult for start-ups to receive actual funding at the stage when they need cash flow the most. The Government may consider making reference to the practice of the BUD Fund, which allows companies applying for funding support to receive early funding on a guaranteed basis, so as to help start-ups cross the "valley of death".

4. Hong Kong Investment Corporation Limited

While we are pleased to see the Hong Kong Investment Corporation Limited (HKIC) bringing in cutting-edge start-ups through direct investment and co-investment, local start-ups are also in need of government support. To better channel capital to startups, we suggest that the HKIC should set up an angel master fund and co-finance sub-funds with different private venture capital funds to invest in local seed-stage or early-stage startups in industries where Hong Kong has an edge, so as to facilitate the development of a thriving startup ecosystem. This will help the start-up ecosystem to flourish and support Hong Kong's economic growth.

5. Financial Services in the Greater Bay Area

We are pleased to see that the Government will continue to work with the Mainland authorities to promote cooperation on financial data flow in the Greater Bay Area, including the implementation of the "Standard Contract for the Cross-boundary Flow of Personal Information Within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (Mainland, Hong Kong)" as an early and pilot arrangement. It is hoped that the Government will optimize the existing mechanism in light of feedback from the industry after reviewing the first phase of the arrangement, and fully implement it in the financial services sector. This will enable Hong Kong residents to more conveniently go through the operational procedures of applying for cross-boundary account opening, loans and mortgages, etc. in the Mainland, thereby facilitating investment and business exchanges between the two places.

6. Nurturing Local Talents

We are pleased to see that the Government is actively investing resources in the development of vocational and professional education, including the earmarking of $100 million as start-up funding to assist self-financing post-secondary institutions to set up the " Alliance of Universities in Applied Sciences". Universities of applied sciences are one of the key elements in promoting the balanced development of traditional academic and vocational education, which can enhance the status of vocational education in society and culture. The Government's financial support can promote the development of related programs, enhance institutional cooperation, deepen cooperation between businesses and academia, and promote technological achievements. In view of the current shortage of talent in Hong Kong and the disconnection between talent and industry demands, we suggest that the Government pay close attention to industry demands and deepen cooperation with the industry, so as to create diversified career paths for young people and provide a comprehensive talent pool for Hong Kong.