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New measures to help HK’s environment proposed

POLICY ADDRESS 2009, Staff reporters, SCMP

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen on Wednesday announced some new initiatives aimed at helping to protect Hong Kong’s environment.

Near the end of his 90 minute annual policy address, Tsang told the Legislative Council the government planned to replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

“CFLs consume 70 per cent less electricity than incandescent light bulbs of the same light intensity,” he explained.

“To promote the replacement of incandescent light bulbs by CFLs, the two power companies [CLP Power (SEHK: 0002) Hong Kong and Hongkong Electric (SEHK: 0006) Company] will distribute cash coupons to residential electricity account holders for CFLs.”

He said the government would also promote electric vehicles.

“The Environment Bureau [ENB] has been working with a number of electric vehicle manufacturers. We expect a supply of around 200 electric vehicles for the local market in the coming financial year,” he said.

The chief executive said the government would work with the two power companies to launch an electric vehicle leasing scheme by the end of 2010.

“Upon implementation of these two programmes, Hong Kong will rank second in Asia after Japan, where electric vehicles are most widely used,” Tsang said.

He said the government would continue to encourage different sectors to conduct carbon audits in buildings and to reduce carbon emissions.

“Last year, more than 100 organisations joined the initiative. As for the proposed district cooling system at the Kai Tak Development, construction works are expected to commence early next year,” the chief executive said.

Tsang also announced other measures in the policy address. These included:

  • Plans to boost innovation and technology by allocating about HK$200 million to launch an “R&D Cash Rebate Scheme”.

“Under this scheme, enterprises conducting applied research and development projects with the support of the Innovation and Technology Fund or in partnership with local designated research institutions will enjoy a cash rebate equivalent to 10 per cent of their investments,” he said.

  • Encourage greater co-operation between Hong Kong and Shanghai. Tsang said the two cities should work together, adding: “The competition between Hong Kong and Shanghai is not a zero-sum game.

“I believe that Hong Kong can work in collaboration with Shanghai and leverage our respective strengths to contribute to the development of financial services in the mainland.”

  • Further development of Hong Kong’s medical sector. The government would invite expressions of interest from the market to develop private hospitals. These could provide traditional Chinese medicine on four sites at Wong Chuk Hang, Tseung Kwan O, Tai Po and Lantau.

Tsang said the government planned to introduce standards for Chinese herbal medicines in Hong Kong. “We aim to extend our coverage from the current 60 herbal medicines to about 200 by 2012,” he said.

  • Developing Hong Kong’s status as a regional education hub. The government would increase the total commitment of its start-up loan scheme by HK$2 billion to help higher institutions meet the costs of purpose-built accommodation and facilities. It has also allocated four greenfield sites to four operators for international school development.
  • Opening up the mainland market further for Hong Kong’s creative industries – for example, the film industry under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa).

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