Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Friday, Oct. 25:
PBoC ‘positive’ about lifting daily limit on yuan changes for individuals
The People’s Bank of China has reacted positively to a proposed relaxation of the limit on the amount of renminbi Hong Kong individuals can exchange each day, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said after a meeting with the authority in Beijing on Thursday. Leung said progress has been made over the past week. The meeting has also touched upon issues in relation to renminbi clearing, financing platforms and mutual recognition of funds, said Chan Ka-keung, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury. The exchange limit has been seen as a hurdle to the development of Hong Kong’s offshore renminbi businesses as rivals Singapore and London have no such restriction.
Hong Kong mulls importation of more foreign workers
The Hong Kong government is seeking to import more foreign workers to ease labor shortage in the city, especially in the construction and retail sectors, as it launched a four-month consultation on population policy. The government has pledged not to jeopardize the interests of local workers and said the proposed move can increase mobility during peak seasons to give boost to the shrinking workforce temporarily. Labor organizations, however, have objected to the plan. Given a low birth rate and growing number of elderly, the consultation paper projected that the total workforce in the city will drop to 3.51 million people by 2035 from an estimated peak of 3.71 million people in 2018, hardly sustaining an average 4 percent economic growth per year.
ECONOMY AND BUSINESS
Arculli named FWD chairman
FWD Hong Kong, the insurance business arm controlled by Richard Li, chairman of PCCW Ltd. (00008.HK), has appointed Ronald Arculli as its chairman. The former chairman of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. (00388.HK) will bring in his expertise in compliance and risk management, assisting the insurer in hiring competent board members and senior executives. The company will expand its business in the city and the Asia region through both organic growth and acquisitions, coupled with innovative information technology on sales and development of new products and services, Arculli said.
HKEx’s Li urges new thoughts to give innovative firms flexibility
Innovative companies deserve consideration for being given special rights when it comes to listing requirements in governance, Charles Li, chief executive of the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. (00388.HK) wrote on his blog. The comment came after Alibaba Holding Group was looking at listing outside Hong Kong. Li said the city may win a moral victory by maintaining the one-share-one-vote principle, but this will cost in loss of competitiveness as it is not adapting to change fast enough. The key is to find the right balance between the concessions allowed to founders and the strength and effectiveness of the counter-measures available to public shareholders in the event of disagreement or conflict, Li noted.
Anson Chan, Ng Hong-mun join calls for transparency in TV license decision
Former chief secretary Anson Chan and veteran pro-Beijing figure Ng Hong-mun became the latest political heavyweights to join attacks against the government’s refusal to explain further its decision not to grant a free-to-air license to Hong Kong Television Networks. Complaining about the increasing lack of government transparency, Chan urged Executive Council members to demand reopening discussion on the issue. Echoing Chan’s criticism against government opaqueness in decision-making, Ng said the government should reconsider the issuance of more licenses one year after the two new operators have launched their broadcasts.
PCCW plans to spend HK$1.6 billion on new free TV station in first 6 years
PCCW’s Hong Kong Television Entertainment said yesterday that it plans to spend a total of HK1.6 billion on its new free-to-air station in the first six years after launching. Company officials earlier announced a total spending of HK$600 million in the first three years. Of the investment, a sizeable amount will be spent on programs and production, the firm said, adding that it was confident of providing high-quality programs with the strong financial backing of PCCW. The new station already has more than 1,500 media production professionals and staff.
Hong Kong population policy plan lacks long-term, comprehensive vision
The just-released government consultation paper on population policy lacks long-term and comprehensive policy objective as it fails to address the problem of mainland migrants in Hong Kong. Proposed measures such as encouraging women to work and creating an elderly-friendly environment are not the most important issues. The crux of the matter is that Hong Kong still relies heavily on mainland migrants as the major source of new population but the flexibility of policy adjustments in the structure of the new population is low. How to facilitate integration of mainland migrants into the city’s culture and values system is an issue that cannot be avoided.
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