|LCQ6: Facilitating Hong Kong people to start businesses and take up employment in Mainland cities within Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area
Following is a question by the Hon Michael Tien and a reply by the Acting Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Andy Chan, in the Legislative Council today (December 13):
It is learnt that the Development Plan for a City Cluster in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area has basically been finalised and will be submitted to the State Council for vetting and approval, with a view to its promulgation by the end of this year. Quite a number of members of the public have relayed to me that the implementation of the Plan will provide Hong Kong people with more opportunities for starting businesses and taking up employment in various Mainland cities within the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (Mainland cities in the Bay Area). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) given that at present, Hong Kong people who have stayed continuously or in aggregate for over 183 days on the Mainland in an assessment year are required to pay personal income tax of the Mainland, whether the Government has plans to discuss with the Central Authorities the offering of tax concessions to Hong Kong people working in Mainland cities in the Bay Area, e.g. those who return to Hong Kong on the same day will be deemed to have stayed on the Mainland for only half a day; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) as it is anticipated that upon the commissioning of the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL), more Hong Kong people will take up employment in Mainland cities in the Bay Area, whether the Government has plans to discuss with the Mainland authorities the offering of transport fare concessions to such Hong Kong people, e.g. concessionary monthly passes for trips to and from the West Kowloon Station and the Shenzhen North Station of XRL; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) whether it has plans to discuss with the Central Authorities the offering of rent and tax concessions, etc. for start-up enterprises set up in Mainland cities in the Bay Area, so as to encourage Hong Kong people to start their businesses there; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
Upon consulting relevant policy bureaux, our overall reply to the Hon Michael Tien's question is as follows:
The Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (the Bay Area) includes nine municipalities in Guangdong (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing) and two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) (Hong Kong and Macao). The rail, high-speed rail, expressway, aviation and maritime networks within the Bay Area are improving, in particular, cross-boundary infrastructure facilities, such as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the Hong Kong Section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL) and the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point, will soon be completed. This will help foster the smooth flow of people, capital, technology, and so forth within the Bay Area. Further, Bay Area cities have a population of over 66 million and the size of their economies is over 1.4 trillion US dollars. As such, the Bay Area has much potential to become a bay area city cluster of the highest competitiveness, and has the ability to enhance its liveability and development sustainability.
The development of the Bay Area is a key national development strategy. In his report delivered at the 19th National Congress, President Xi Jinping made clear that they would continue to support Hong Kong and Macao in integrating their own development into the overall development of the country, give priority to the development of the Bay Area, co-operation between Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao, and regional co-operation in the pan-Pearl River Delta, thus fully advancing mutually beneficial co-operation between the Mainland and the two regions, and formulate and improve policies and measures to make it more convenient for people from Hong Kong and Macao to develop careers in the Mainland. The development of the Bay Area is oriented to manifest the key strategies above.
The HKSAR Government has all along been working closely with the Guangdong Provincial Government and the Macao SAR Government in drawing up the Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Bay Area (the Development Plan) jointly with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). In the process of Hong Kong's participation in drawing up the Development Plan, the HKSAR Government has consulted industry sectors and relevant committees, and the views received included improving tax arrangements, introducing measures to facilitate the entry of Hong Kong people and vehicles to the Mainland, and lowering the threshold for various professional sectors wishing to practise or provide professional services in the Bay Area. The HKSAR Government has already reflected such proposals to the NDRC in full.
On the current arrangement of Hong Kong people working in the Mainland for over 183 days having to pay Mainland personal income tax, the HKSAR Government will, under the framework of the development of the Bay Area, strive for the provision of more measures that would increase the level of convenience for Hong Kong people working, starting businesses and doing business in the Bay Area, including discussion with relevant Mainland authorities on tax arrangements for Hong Kong people working in the Mainland. As for the fare levels and ticketing arrangements (including whether fare concession schemes will be introduced) for the XRL, together with the MTR Corporation Limited, the HKSAR Government is discussing with the China Railway Corporation and will announce the arrangement at an appropriate time. Moreover, the HKSAR Government has all along been seeking to secure further liberalisation measures from Mainland authorities for the people and enterprises of Hong Kong, so as to encourage them to start and develop businesses and careers in the Mainland. To use Qianhai in Shenzhen as an example, the HKSAR Government has been supportive of the policies and measures introduced by Qianhai benefitting the people and enterprises of Hong Kong, including tax concessions. The HKSAR Government also supports advancing the development of Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Youth Innovation and Entrepreneur Hub and Hong Kong-Shenzhen Design Innovation Hub, bringing more development opportunities for start-ups and youth entrepreneurship.
One of the major breakthroughs brought about by the development of the Bay Area is taking forward policy innovation under the principle of "one country, two systems", whereby policy obstacles arising from the practice of different systems in the two places will be reduced as far as possible, thus fostering the flow of people, goods, capital and information between Hong Kong and other cities in the Bay Area and offering greater business opportunities to Hong Kong businesses and industries operating in the Bay Area. We shall also strive for the implementation of facilitation measures that will help Hong Kong people study, work and live in the Bay Area, providing them with greater incentives to take up employment, start and run businesses in the Bay Area and expanding their scope for development.
The work on drawing up the Development Plan has essentially been completed. The current estimate is that the Development Plan will be promulgated in the first quarter of 2018. In order to more effectively co-ordinate and take forward the development amongst cities, the implementation of the Development Plan will be co-ordinated at the national level, including the establishment of a co-ordination mechanism that includes not only the Governments of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao, but also the NDRC, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council and relevant central ministries. According to the policies and measures devised in the Development Plan, the HKSAR Government will discuss and draw up concrete work plans with relevant central ministries and the governments of Guangdong and the Macao SAR to implement the Development Plan. The HKSAR Government will also continue to keep in close contact with industries, chambers of commerce, professional bodies and relevant stakeholders to listen to their views on how to effectively implement the Development Plan.
Ends/Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:40