Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Friday, Dec. 27:
Poorer growth perception limits price hikes in festive season
Gloomy perception of the economic outlook next year has prompted retailers and caterers to be conservative in raising prices during the Christmas holidays, veterans in the sector said. Food and beverage, the largest category of consumption in the festive season, has seen a price hike of about 5 percent on average, compared with 10 to 15 percent last year. Meanwhile, exhibitors at the annual Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo said they have provided bigger discounts this year due to slower growth in retail sales, which expanded 11 percent in the first ten months from a year ago.
Hong Kong Disneyland gears up for more competition
Interview: Hong Kong Disneyland Resort will undertake, in phases from March to September next year, renovation for the first time since the theme park opened eight years ago, said Cecilia Ho, hotel operations general manager. The American amusement park and resort operator is facing fiercer competition from Ocean Park, which is building its first hotel in the city, and the Chimelong Ocean Kingdom theme park on Hengqin Island in Zhuhai. Ho, meanwhile, said the Hong Kong Disneyland is likely to post double-digit year-on-year growth in its hotel revenue during the Christmas holidays.
ECONOMY AND BUSINESS
MPFs in Hong Kong yield better than HSI this year
The Mandatory Provident Funds in Hong Kong have, on average, posted a return rate of 6.42 percent as of Dec. 19 for this year, way beyond the 1 percent gain in the benchmark Hang Seng Index in the same period, data at Morningstar Asia Ltd. showed. The higher return was mainly driven by gains from the stock markets in Japan, Europe and the United States. Analysts expect more good performance from European and American stocks next year, while the Hong Kong and China markets are likely to outperform those in other Asian countries, such as India and Indonesia.
Hong Kong to legislate scripless regime in securities market
The Hong Kong government is expected to launch a legislation process to stipulate a scripless regime in the securities market in April next year. The new regime will allow retail investors to register individually as a shareholder, instead of the intermediaries they use, avoiding service or administrative charges on dividends paid out by listed companies. A proposal is due for tabling at the legislature next month, with a draft bill scheduled for submission in the second quarter next year. Market observers expect the whole legislation process to take one to two years as it involves three major ordinances regarding securities and futures, companies and stamp duties statutes.
MIIT grants mobile service license to 11 non-SOEs
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has given 11 non state-owned enterprises licenses to provide mobile telecommunications services, marking the first step in opening up the industry to newcomers. The new operators, which have all allied with either China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (00728.HK) or China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. (00762.HK), include www.net.cn, a subsidiary of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Beijing Bewinner Communications Co. Ltd. (002148.CN) and Telling Telecommunication Holding Co. Ltd. (000829.CN). Seventeen other license applicants, including Suning Commerce Group Co. Ltd. (002024.CN) and GOME Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd. (00493.HK), that had teamed with China Mobile Ltd. (00941.HK), are not on the list.
Hong Kong must groom political talents for better governance, academic says
Interview: Hong Kong should take drastic steps to groom political talents in the next five to 10 years to help solve the structural problems in the city’s governance, said Lingnan University political scientist Li Pang-kwong. Li, a member of the newly-established All-China Hong Kong and Macau Research Association, said the past 16 years showed the rule of Hong Kong by businessman (Tung Chee-hwa), civil servant (Donald Tsang) and professional (Leung Chun-ying) have proved to be a failure. He said universities should introduce courses on the training of political talents. In the long-term, the city should move towards party politics, Li said.
Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine to have adverse impact on Japan
The decision by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to pay tribute to war criminals at the Yasukuni Shrine was a short-sighted move, which would worsen the country’s relations with China and South Korea. Abe’s move would steer the country further away from the path of peaceful development and pave the way for the revival of militarism. It would also cause restraints in Japan’s diplomacy, resulting in the isolation and the ultimate decline of the nation.
RTHK should withdraw HK$6 billion new building plan, Wong says
The government-run Radio Television Hong Kong should withdraw its proposal for HK$6 billion funding to build its new headquarters, former civil service minister Joseph Wong wrote. Wong said the increase of funding from the original HK$160 million to HK$6 billion, attributed to new facilities for digital broadcasting, needs further explanation from the broadcaster. It should also justify the need for five new radio channels and three new television channels. More important, Wong said RTHK should explain how it defines public service broadcasting and its scope.
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