….wild is the wind…creative freedom is the seed….
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 All this is based on the outdated Air Quality Objective, which has remained unchanged since 1987, way off from the World Health Organization guidelines.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:
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.”
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”.
Cecilia is a Hong Kong Chinese-Australian Social Entreprneur, Artist, Directors of NGO in Africa, South Ameria, Asia and California who really really likes to "tell it how it is", having travelled to over 40 countries around the world & seen some interesting things every so often.
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