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Sustainability v. Growth Bubbles: What will Hong kong do with $671.3 Billion Trade Surplus? Use our Conscience?

Well According to a Letter to the South China Morning post by Audrey Eu, a member of theLegislative Council of Hong Kong , there are a number of things Hong kong SHOULD DO with the $671.3 Billion!

In an Article dated the 10 March 2011, entitled “In the Fog”, Eu said,” There is a  Chinese saying “The  cleverest housewife can’t cook a meal without rice” But our  Financial Secretary has plenty of rice.   With forecast surplus of 71.3 billion and  expected fiscal reserves close to 600 billion, (equal to 23  months of  government expenditure) he has more than enough money to improve our air  quality.    What has he done in this budget to help us to breathe cleaner air?

He spends $4.7 billion, giving $1,800 subsidy to each residential electricity  account.  This runs counter to the government policy to encourage energy-saving  and carbon reduction.     I made the same point 3 years ago when John Tsang first  gave the electricity subsidy in his 2008 budget.  I suggested that the subsidy  should be structured in a way to encourage energy-saving.  For example, it can be given only to account holders with low consumption.  Or it can be given out quarterly, only to those who can demonstrate a reduced consumption by comparison with the previous quarter.   But he ignored the suggestion and made the same mistake this year.

We have been warned by health experts.   Recently, the Environmental Research  Group, School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong published its findings  showing that visibility is strongly negatively correlated with air pollution  especially Particulates (PM10) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).    Every kilometre  reduction in visibility causes 70 additional deaths per year, with a total of 1200  deaths in year 2010.  In 2010, there were 223 days of good air quality. Compared  to 256 such days in 2009, we lost 33 good air quality days.  But ‘good’ is relative.    All this is based on the outdated Air Quality Objective, which has remained  unchanged since 1987, way off from the World Health Organization guidelines.

The government has carried out public consultations to update the air quality  objectives, but   action has been long overdue and the government cannot even be    induced to give a timeframe as to when the standards would be revised.

As in previous years, the Financial Secretary spent a lot of paragraphs in the budget on electric cars. In fact, the last budget promised 200 electric cars.  The target is not met. Only 100 electric cars are now on the roads.  The progress is painfully slow.

The Financial Secretary’s job is not to dish out dividends when the company makes a profit but to use them wisely.   He could have spent some of that and it would have greatly improved  air-quality.  We all need it, rich or poor; all the time, day or night.  Money is better spent on such an essential commodity. Waiting is hazardous to health.”

In Summary, her recommended Strategies are:

  • Spent less time promising targets and more time meeting real Carbon reduction targets
  • Spend more money annually on Green tech.
  • Encourage more low emissions vehicles on the roads of Hong kong.
  • Meet Clean Air targets instead of keep lowering the targets!
  • Spend $6 billion a year to retire high-emitting out-dated vehicles on the roads.
  • Replace all  pre-Euro, Euro I and Euro II buses, before 2019. Go with Green public transports !

Well that’s one set of opinions, although there are others that would go to more extreme and say ” Lets spent whatever we have to get as close to Zero emissions using Green-tech as possible. How hard is it to tackle Hong Kong’s air pollution problem? Some actions would go a long way. Our power and transport companies need to use clean fuel and our buildings need to be more energy-efficient. Making this happen is a matter of will and funding. We are not a poor community, nor are we known to be a people afraid of a challenge. For the sake of our health and our future, we should apply ourselves – and our money – to achieve these aims.”

The colors of Hong kong money!

There is also large movements towards a Social Entrepreneurship Agenda in Hong kong. e.g. there are independent cells of Hong kong Pro-active youths  asking the government to spend the money on Welfare, education, improved medical Healthcare & providing Affordable housing for Hong kong’s  7 millions  inhabitants; instead of giving each Hong kong citizen a $6000 HK dividend share of the Trade surplus.

Of course, let us not forget that Hong kong has the highest re-export rate in the world for its population demographics and it is important that Hong kong takes responsibility for its treatment of workers. There has to a Sustainable Minimum Wage in place for all workers in Hong Kong and those working because of Subsidiaries of Hong kong’s Pearl River Delta extended trading companies.

Even though Central Government way up in Beijing has failed to look after their workers, it is actually important for Hong Kong’s Sustainable Competitive & Comparitive advantages to ensure a rule of law that protects fair  wages,  safe working conditions, reasonable worker’s compensation,  paid holidays,  sick pay and maternity leave for women.

These are things that Hong kong should be spending our money on, not just building the largest 4th Generation internet in the world or being the spearhead in turning the Pearl River Delta zones into the biggest municipal (de-facto) extension of Hong kong’s Metropolis in the world!

The Last thing Hong Kong needs is yet another Trophy Giant Skyscrapers at the cost of Sustainable Development! WE HAVE SO MANY SKYSCRAPERS ALREADY!!!!

Greed is killing our environment. Growth is okay but needs to accept its “limits” or we my  face a new global boom-and-bust  economic cycle.

There are other measures of Development beyond just Profit & Growth. The third factor is what the UN use to the describe living standards & quality of life, known as the Human Development Index.

Being a Macrocosm for Global Inequality is the LAST thing we want  for Hong kong’s Public Relation Image! Beyond the measure of Profit & Growth there are also ideas about Human Development Index that measures what is the quality of life for all those involved in Hong kong’s prosperity. Isn’t it time, Hong kong takes the leadership position when it comes to United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) ?

*****BOTTOM LINE: Hong kong, Lets Aim Higher! Lets Aim to have the HIGHEST HDI in the world!

With 671 billion trade Surplus, isn’t it about time Hong kong Gives “Sustainability” some serious “face & recognition”.


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4 comments on “Sustainability v. Growth Bubbles: What will Hong kong do with $671.3 Billion Trade Surplus? Use our Conscience?

  1. Ulysses seconds Barney
    January 14, 2013

    The text in your content is still running off the screen in Internet explorer. saw someone else also noticed. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with internet browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The design and style look great though!
    Hope you get the problem fixed soon. Kudos

    • ceciliawyu
      January 16, 2013

      Yes, so many has mentioned this. Thanks but I can’t fix it unless we change the entire way the internet is used as we know it. 🙂

  2. Val Do.
    December 25, 2011

    This is a great blog you have here.

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