My Preliminary Response to the BudgetHere is my preliminary response to the Government's Budget 2009-2010.
The Budget has failed to take advantage of the financial downturn to plan for Hong Kong's long-term future by investing in our technology industry and furthering our integration with the regional Pearl River Delta economy.
There is also a lack of initiatives to assist SMEs, especially those in the ICT sector. Our call for expanding Continuing Education Fund (CEF) to cover ICT and replenishing the SME Education Fund are ignored.
I have proposed the Ten Information Infrastructure Projects to the Financial Secretary, and I am glad to see that Government IT spending under OGCIO has been increased (18.2%), and the Government has committed $840 million for 3 years for the development of a territory-wide electronic health record. Also, my proposal for the e-citizen account will be materialized under the MyGovHK implementation.
However, I am disappointed to see that other major proposals were not taken up, in particular, in intelligent transport, education and food safety, etc. My proposal to hire one IT assistant per school to generate over 1,000 jobs in IT was not taken up.
I will continue to monitor Government to make sure that our ICT industry benefits from the increase, and procurement policy problems are properly addressed and improved.
I am disappointed that the Government has not acted on industry calls to strengthen our core areas of technology infrastructure, including information security, and developing Hong Kong as a wireless city.
While the Government has expressed that it will explore the feasibility of Phase 3 of the Hong Kong Science Park, it has not addressed industry call to plan and allocate land for the long-term development of data centers, which has been facing critical shortage of spaces, and will surely deteriorate sharply when the economy bounces back.
In the area of digital inclusion, I welcome the Government's proposal to develop an elderly portal, but the efficiency and objectives of the educational programme to “teach young Internet users to use the Internet appropriately and safety” for $63 million is uncertain. In fact, that amount is almost enough to hire one IT assistant for half of the schools in Hong Kong, which will be of much more use to schools, teachers and students.