John Lee policy address 2023: can Hong Kong leader deliver as city battles sluggish economy and property market, shrinking reserves and falling birth rate?

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A HK$20,000 cash handout and a progressive tax allowance for new parents are among measures to be unveiled by Hong Kong leader John Lee Ka-chiu will unveil his second policy address on Wednesday morning as the city struggles with a sluggish economy, shrinking reserves and falling birth rate.

Insiders earlier said Lee’s administration had considered encouraging couples to give birth by offering cash handouts or even priority for subsidised housing, an unprecedented and controversial initiative that immediately sparked concerns over its effectiveness and fairness.

He is also expected to ease some property market cooling measures to help boost sales.

Lee remained tight-lipped over the latest blueprint on the eve of its release, but stressed the speech aimed at fostering hope, unity and vitality to drive prosperity.

Analysts, meanwhile, warned that Lee would have to address the higher expectations that residents had of the leader for his second year in office after enduring a slow economic recovery since the city reopened to the world early this year following the pandemic.

Reporting by Jeffie Lam, Kahon Chan, Denise Tsang, Harvey Kong, Lilian Cheng, Emily Hung, Elizabeth Cheung, Jess Ma and Willa Wu

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