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February 27, 2021

$500m for enhancement works in country parks

The Hong Kong SAR government has made bold decisions to transform Hong Kong into a more liveable city by introducing new initiatives that aim to popularise electric vehicles, relieve traffic congestion, reduce waste and improve country parks. Unveiling his 2021-22 Budget speech, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said Hong Kong's first roadmap on the popularisation of electric vehicles will be announced next month.

     The roadmap sets out policy objectives and plans on the use of electric cars and their supporting facilities. Key measures include ceasing the new registration of fuel-propelled private cars in 2035 or earlier, expanding the charging network of such vehicles and promoting its marketisation. It also comprises formulating a producer responsibility scheme for retired electronic vehicle batteries. Stressing the importance of relieving traffic congestion, the Financial Secretary proposed to raise the rate of each tax band for the first registration tax for private cars, including electric private cars, by 15% and the vehicle licence fee by 30%. The adjustments took effect on February 24.
     Mr Chan noted that the government will set aside an extra $1 billion on more than 80 projects to install additional small-scale renewable energy systems at government buildings and infrastructure. Additionally, $150 million will be used to conduct energy audits and install energy-saving appliances for non-governmental organisations subvented by the Social Welfare Department. Mr Chan emphasised that these new initiatives will help Hong Kong advance towards its carbon neutrality target and create jobs.
     He added that the government will inject an additional funding of $1 billion to the Recycling Fund and extend the application period to 2027 to render continuous support to the trade. It is expected that more than 1,000 businesses will benefit from the measure.
     In its goal to improve the quality of living for residents, the Financial Secretary said the government will earmark $500 million to carry out enhancement works on facilities in some country parks. Such improvements will provide recreational elements like additional lookout points, treetop adventure and glamping sites and revitalising some wartime relics by converting them into open museums.
    The new facilities will adopt low‑carbon and green designs that integrate with their natural surroundings. An additional $55 million has been earmarked to complete the second phase of the enhancement programme for 10 popular hiking trails in country parks. A total of $318 million will also be designated to implement a five-year plan for upgrading over 70 football pitches. Mr Chan said the move will contribute to the long-term development of football in Hong Kong.