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In today’s 2023 Policy Address, Chief Executive John Lee set out 73 new indicators which he said the Government will use to improve governance. Combined with ongoing indicators introduced in last year’s Policy Address, this takes the number of active indicators of the Government’s work progress and outcomes to 150.

Mr Lee said that since taking office the current-term Government has strived to improve governance systems, capabilities, efficacy and execution. After setting out 110 indicators for specific tasks last year, he said the performance of departments had generally met his expectations and had helped to cultivate a result-oriented culture within the Government.

To further enhance governance systems, the Government will continue to collaborate and interact closely with the Legislative Council through various channels, including the Chief Executive’s Interactive Exchange Question & Answer Sessions, the LegCo Ante Chamber Exchange Sessions and face‑to‑face communication.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive said the Constitutional & Mainland Affairs Bureau will take forward the regular exchange mechanism to enhance communication and collaboration with Hong Kong Special Administrative Region deputies to the National People’s Congress and Hong Kong SAR members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Mr Lee also outlined that the Government will fully implement its improved district governance structure and ensure its effective and efficient operation. He said the seventh-term District Council elections will be conducted in a fair, just, safe, clean and orderly manner and called on people to cast their votes on December 10. With Care Teams established in all 18 districts, the governance structure at district level is largely in place, Mr Lee added.

Another area of focus for the Government is taking forward a number of major development projects, including the Northern Metropolis and the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands. Mr Lee said such projects will bring substantial economic and social benefits and pledged that the Government will establish a Committee on the Financing of Major Development Projects, led by the Financial Secretary, and an Office for the Financing of Major Development Projects, to advise on feasible investment and financing options. The two bodies will assess the feasibility of bringing in private investors for these projects, and thoroughly evaluate their financial viability.

The Chief Executive added that the Hong Kong Investment Corporation Limited is considering using the GBA (Greater Bay Area) Investment Fund, under its management, to set up a joint fund with the Guangdong Provincial Government and other institutions or corporations to invest in GBA projects with social and economic benefits.

Mr Lee also outlined measures which aim to enhance governance capabilities and efficacy. These include advancing the digitalisation of government services through the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and opening up more government data to accelerate the development of Hong Kong’s digital economy. Mr Lee explained that the Digital Economy Development Committee, chaired by the Financial Secretary, is conducting studies on digital infrastructure, cross‑boundary data flows, the digital transformation of enterprises, and human resource support, and will table its recommendations early next year.

Furthermore, the Government will set up a Digital Policy Office through a merger of the existing Office of the Government Chief Information Officer and the Efficiency Office. Led by the Commissioner for Digital Policy, the new office will be responsible for formulating policies on digital government, data governance and information technology. It will consolidate information technology‑related resources within the Government, promote the opening up of data, and co‑ordinate with departments to offer more digital services.

Before the end of this year, the Government will also publish administrative guidelines to facilitate the flow of data and ensure data security.

The Chief Executive added that from 2024, over 100 digital government initiatives will be launched to promote digital government and “smart city” solutions. These projects include: issuing and verifying certain licences and certificates electronically via blockchain technology; enhancing security in public cargo areas using AI technology; providing automated parking systems in newly completed government car parks and short‑term tenancy car parks; providing electronic payment options for all government fees within one year; developing smart search‑and‑rescue mobile applications; and enhancing the 1823 enquiry service through an AI chatbot.

In addition, the Hong Kong SAR Government will collaborate with the Guangdong Provincial Government to develop the “Digital Bay Area”. This includes promoting the “Cross‑boundary Public Services” initiative, under which Hong Kong residents can log into the Guangdong Government Service Network via iAM Smart and residents of both Guangdong and Hong Kong can use self‑help kiosks rather than having to access government services in person.

Noting that a capable and efficient civil service is the key to high‑quality government services, Mr Lee also pledged to the strengthen management of the service.

Mr Lee mentioned that after the streamlined mechanism for management-initiated retirement of officers whose performance is persistently sub-standard became effective in September, the Government will enhance training for departments to improve their skills in handling disciplinary cases. The Government will also boost its efforts to recognise civil servants whose work and dedication to the community are exemplary.

The Civil Service Bureau is also in the process of updating the Civil Service Code to ensure all officers are aware of the need to safeguard national security, sovereignty and development interests. The bureau aims to issue the updated code in the first quarter of next year or earlier for consultation with staff. In addition, the Hong Kong SAR Government will introduce an exchange programme with civil servants from other GBA cities by the end of the year.

To strengthen Hong Kong’s ability to cope with extreme weather, Mr Lee said the Government will adopt a more pre‑emptive and strategic approach.

This will involve requesting departments and relevant public bodies such as the Airport Authority and the MTR Corporation to comprehensively review their contingency plans. The Government will explore ways to use big data, AI and other technology to improve risk assessment capabilities, and investigations and studies will be conducted of major landslide incidents triggered by extreme rainstorms.

Drainage improvement works costing $8 billion at Wong Tai Sin, Hong Kong Island East and other areas hit by severe floods in the past, are to be taken forward expeditiously, and the Drainage Services Department will complete its “Strategic Planning Study on Flood Management against Sea Level Rise & Extreme Rainfall” next year.

Furthermore, Hong Kong will collaborate with other GBA cities to formulate and implement a “Greater Bay Area Emergency Response & Rescue Operational Plan”. The aim will be to establish a systematic emergency-response mechanism that is mutually beneficial and strengthens the region’s ability to prevent, mitigate and relieve natural disasters and other major public emergencies.

Mr Lee said the Government is also in discussions with governments in other GBA cities regarding the establishment of a cross-boundary ambulance service that will facilitate point-to-point transfers of patients.


Quelle/Source: news.gov.hk, 25.10.2023

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