Govt rejects call for committee on population policy - RTHK
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Govt rejects call for committee on population policy

2022-12-07 HKT 15:33
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  • Govt rejects call for committee on population policy
The government on Wednesday rejected calls from lawmakers to set up a dedicated committee to come up with a new population policy.

Councillors noted there have been major changes in the local demographics since the government last came up with such a policy report in 2015, as the workforce has shrunk and the birth rate has fallen further in recent years.

Responding to an oral question in the Legislative Council, labour minister Chris Sun said many places around the world face the problem of people not having babies.

He said the local birth rate fell to 0.77 last year, in large part because of Covid, and he expressed the hope that more people will have children as the pandemic eases further.

"The decision to raise a family or otherwise hinges upon a number of factors, including personal preference, lifestyle, economic and social conditions," the minister said.

"While child-bearing is a major family decision in which the government cannot intervene, the government has put in place a number of family friendly measures to encourage families to have children."

These measures include five days of paternity leave, extending maternity leave to 14 weeks, and providing more daycare services.

Election Committee lawmaker Simon Lee said he was not happy with Sun's answers, accusing the minister of reacting passively to the problem.

He urged the government to study in detail why people are not having children and are getting married at a later age than in the past.

The councillor also called on the administration to follow Shenzhen's example when it comes to attracting new talent, by providing people with money and housing.

Sun said the government doesn't provide monetary or housing incentives for everyone coming to Hong Kong, but stressed that these would be given to people in strategic industries like innovation and technology.

He noted that the chief executive has introduced a number of policy initiatives to attract talent, saying Hong Kong is still attractive based on its long-standing advantages and the opportunities it provides.