(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam will present her annual policy address later Wednesday as the city’s most serious political crisis in decades has put the economy on the brink of recession.
Lam’s speech starting at 11 a.m. will include measures to address Hong Kong’s longstanding housing and land supply problem as well as some 200 other initiatives, she said at a briefing with reporters Tuesday while holding up a copy of the text with a sky-blue cover. While Lam said she wanted to give the speech in front of the legislature, it’s unclear if protesters will seek to block her from doing so.
“I’m sure you agree that the most important livelihood issue that a chief executive should address would be housing and land supply,” Lam said on Tuesday. She first unveiled her controversial plan to reclaim land off Lantau Island during last year’s address.
Here are some measures local media are reporting may be included in the upcoming address:
- The Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Wednesday that Lam plans to announce a target for compulsory land requisitions of 700 hectares over the next five years.
- The government will ease immigration rules for tech talent, expanding its current plan to woo workers to cover those employed by companies outside of the Hong Kong Science Park and Cyberport, Sing Tao Daily reported.
- Hong Kong plans to expand its railway network by constructing three new railway extensions, Cable TV news reported late Tuesday
Lam’s administration has struggled for months to resolve escalating protests sparked by a since-withdrawn bill allowing extraditions to China that have expanded into a broader push for greater democracy. The violence intensified in October after Lam invoked a rarely used emergency law to ban protesters from wearing masks.
Hong Kong’s economy contracted in the second quarter and is widely expected to have fallen into a technical recession as soon as the third. The U.S.-China trade war has impacted exports while protests have scared away visitors from the city’s shopping malls, restaurants and luxury hotels.
The International Monetary Fund this week slashed its forecasts for Hong Kong’s economic growth, now estimating expansion of just 0.3% in 2019, down from the 2.7% forecast in April.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan presented a $2.4 billion stimulus package in August to help bolster the economy. He’s also called on property owners and developers to offer rent relief to struggling retailers. About 100 restaurants have shut down because of the unrest, affecting about 2,000 employees, he said in a Chinese-language blog post on Sunday.
(Updates with details of potential measures in fourth paragraph)
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