Chief Executive Carrie Lam delivers her fourth Policy Address on Wednesday at one of the most challenging times in the history of Hong Kong.
The global economy is reeling from coronavirus – and unemployment is expected to surge locally soon from already high levels, as companies cut back.
Politically and socially, the SAR is also in uncharted waters. Lam will be the first leader to deliver a Policy Address to an overwhelmingly pro-establishment Legislative Council after pan-democrats resigned en masse over Beijing's disqualification of four of their lawmakers.
The clampdown on opponents and critics of her administration and the nearly complete suppression of protests have also done nothing to heal the deep social divisions left by last year's often violent anti-government unrest.
But Lam's answers to all such problems now seem to be: look north.
Sources say her Policy Address will include plans for a government subsidy to encourage young people to take up jobs in the Greater Bay Area.
This echoes a call made by President Xi Jinping in Shenzhen last month, for Hong Kong youths, as well as those from Macau, to move to find work in other parts of the Pearl River delta area.
RTHK understands that the scheme involves thousands of jobs that could pay up to HK$20,000 a month, after the government subsidy is added to the wage packet.
It would initially run for one year, with subsidised jobs on offer in areas such as IT and finance.
As jobs increasingly disappear from the SAR amid the coronavirus pandemic, many political parties – including the pro-Beijing DAB – have called for an unemployment subsidy.
But they're set to be disappointed. Lam is understood to be only willing to relax the asset limit for social welfare applicants.
Back in August, she had sought to temper expectations for new big spending to counter the economic effects of the pandemic – saying there are already major challenges to Hong Kong's public finances.
However, the government it appears can still find the cash to press ahead with Lam's HK$600 billion Lantau Tomorrow reclamation project.
Policy Address set to deliver Bay Area jobs boost
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