(8 January, 2019) IT Legislative Councillor Charles Mok met with the Financial Secretary Mr Paul Chan yesterday with other Professionals Guild members to submit views and policy recommendations on the upcoming Budget.
This year, the proposal from Charles Mok included 71 policy suggestions, covering areas from strengthening the competitiveness of Hong Kong, boosting R&D and the growth of innovation and technology development, to accelerating digital transformation in our industries. The policy recommendations from Mok amounted to around HKD$8 billion.
To address the shortage of tech talents and digital skill gap in Hong Kong, Mok this year also placed strong emphasis on nurturing efforts and brought up a series of recommendations that amounted to approximately HKD$4 billion, including more subsidies for upskilling, supports for mid-career IT professionals to enhance their skill sets for career change, more resources for start-ups, SMEs and other organisations to hire interns and more.
“We need more talents to help our drive towards a digital economy in Hong Kong but currently the lack of talents reflects that our training efforts are falling behind Singapore, which poses an imminent problem. Apart from stepping up the efforts in continuous education and training, the government needs to support the upskilling of the local ICT talents and raise their competitiveness,” said Mok.
Charles Mok also pushed concrete measures to be taken to address regulatory challenges that many innovations face in Hong Kong. He called for the establishment of a programme to facilitate government departments and regulators to adopt RegTech, establish regulatory labs and sandboxes, and also set out an actionable framework for the review of outdated regulations in the next 5 years.
On the recently announced open data initiatives, Mok stressed that the government should prioritise releasing datasets that can bring immediate benefits to citizens, such as the public health data and transport data. He requested the Budget this year to set out more funds to the Hospital Authority to revamp the technology infrastructures and systems for patients to schedule and change appointments, get instant waiting-time updates, receive medical alerts and information.
Charles Mok has submitted his proposal to the Financial Secretary and the Innovation and Technology Bureau.
10 major policy recommendations for Budget:
1. Introduce a mechanism to accumulate the remaining values of accounts that have used the Continuing Education Fund by increasing the balance by 10% annually.
2. A $500-million funding for the support of IT professionals to acquire in-demand skill sets in emerging technology areas.
3. Extend the government’s Internship Programme to all SMEs, start-ups, NGOs and trust funds.
4. A $500-million funding for the use of RegTech within the government.
5. To allocate funds from auctioning of spectrum and the OFCA Trading Fund to invest in new telecommunication infrastructures and systems, R&D and start-ups.
6. A $500-million funding to support industries to adopt automation technologies to increase efficiency and productivity.
7. Establish an Education and Innovation Lab to strengthen the use of EdTech (Education Technology) in schools.
8. Setting out a $500-million funding to subsidy SMEs and companies on a matching basis (similar to TVP) to conduct cybersecurity audit and strengthen defense against cyber threats.
9. Extend the scope of the Pilot Green Transport Fund to subsidise trial projects of intelligent transportation solutions to enhance road safety.
10. Establish an Open Data Institute to foster knowledge exchange and research on open data, and facilitate international connections.