Speech at Panel on Information Technology and Broadcasting

Information papers issued since the last meeting

Radio Television Hong Kong

Mr CHAN Chun-ying commented that the Panel should concern itself with high level oversight of the Administration’s policy matters. He considered that members’ queries were mainly related to on-going operational issues, and agreed that the Panel should discuss with the Administration on broad policy issues arising from the report of the dedicated team.

The Chairman concluded that, taking into consideration members’ views, he would ask the Administration to consider members’ views and advise whether it would agree that a meeting should be held at which the Administration would address members’ concerns directly, or whether it would provide a more detailed written response to the issues raised without prejudice to the review to be conducted.


Update on smart city development

Smart mobility

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that the Hong Kong International Airport (“HKIA”) had been applying technology to provide passengers with a unique experience and to enhance the airport’s operational efficiency. Nevertheless, the Administration did not specify the implementation timetable for the proposed initiatives, such as increasing automation and use of robotics, expanding mobile smart check-in services to off-airport locations, and using autonomous electric tractor for carrying baggage containers, etc. He asked if the Administration would enhance Hong Kong’s capability in combating the epidemic by using I&T solutions, such as disinfecting passenger baggages and cargoes when the services of HKIA resumed in near future. He commented that it was opportune to carry out the enhancement work at HKIA.

S for IT said that HKIA had adopted robotic technology for indoor disinfection in order to maintain environmental hygiene and minimize cleaning staff’s exposure to viruses and germs. Moreover, the Administration had recently launched a special call for trial projects under the Public Sector Trial Scheme to support product development and application of technologies for the prevention and control of the pandemic. The target funding recipients were local research and development (“R&D”) centres, universities and other designated public research institutes, as well as all technology companies conducting R&D activities in Hong Kong. The Administration had received a total of 332 applications, most of which were related to the prevention and control of the epidemic, such as reduction of the infection risks and its spread.

Smart economy

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that among the tax returns received for the 2018-2019 assessment year, the Inland Revenue Department had only received 110 claims for tax deduction relating to R&D expenditures, and the relevant expenditures for claiming tax deduction were about $1.82 billion. He enquired about the Administration’s measures to encourage more enterprises to conduct R&D work amid the severe economic recession, including whether the Administration would consider expanding the scope of application of the tax deduction measures or providing additional tax concessions for R&D related activities.

S for IT said that as the legislation for enhanced tax deduction for expenditures incurred on “qualifying R&D activities” by enterprises was only enacted in October 2018, we did not expect a large number of claims for R&D tax deduction within such a short time for the 2018-2019 financial year. The Administration would keep a close watch on the relevant situation, and introduce suitable measures as and when appropriate for encouraging R&D investment by private enterprises. In terms of nurturing talent, the funding scope of the Researcher Programme and Postdoctoral Hub under the Innovation and Technology Fund had been expanded to all technology companies conducting R&D activities in Hong Kong since March 2020. S for IT further said that the Administration also funded the operating expenditures of R&D Centres, which worked closely with the industry to encourage private investment in R&D in Hong Kong. In addition, a number of new initiatives had been introduced to support R&D work by universities and public research institutes.


Launching of “iAM Smart” platform and other digital government service initiatives

“iAM Smart” registration and usage

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that when the “iAM Smart” platform was launched in the fourth quarter of 2020, 23 commonly used online government services would be accessible through the platform. He was of the view that as some e-government services (e.g. eTAX, renewal of full driving licence) had already accepted applications by post, there might be no significant difference between using “iAM Smart” and existing e-government services, especially at the initial stage of launching “iAM Smart”.

S for IT said that the public services of all government departments were expected to support “iAM Smart” where possible. GCIO said that even with the launch of the “iAM Smart” platform, some government services might not be able to accept electronic signature or support electronic submission under the exemption provisions of the Electronic Transactions Ordinance (Cap. 553). In addition, there might be services which required the processing by a party outside the Government (e.g. banks), procedures requiring face-to-face verification of applicant’s identity, etc. In reply to Mr CHU Hoi-dick’s further enquiry about a list setting out the types of public services would not adopt “iAM Smart”, S for IT said that the relevant information was not available at this juncture. The Administration would, however, endeavour to promote a wider adoption of “iAM Smart” in the public services.

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that the Administration would start the promotion and publicity of “iAM Smart” in the third quarter of 2020 through different channels such as television and social media to announce details of the “iAM Smart” registration methods and other relevant information. He suggested that the Administration should accord priority to encourage civil servants to use “iAM Smart” in order to facilitate wider adoption of “iAM Smart” among the community. Citing the caring arrangement for the smart identity card replacement exercise as an example, Mr CHAN called on the Administration to provide priority registration for specific groups, such as young people. The Deputy Chairman shared a similar view.

S for IT said that the registration process of “iAM Smart” would be relatively convenient as compared to the territory-wide identity card replacement exercise. To encourage wider use of “iAM Smart”, the Administration would continue with the on-going efforts of promoting the adoption of “iAM Smart” in different public services, such as electricity, gas and water. Furthermore, the Administration would actively promote “iAM Smart” to the public, including civil servants. S for IT anticipated that “iAM Smart” would be well received by the public.

Electronic signing

Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted that residents could use “iAM Smart” to perform digital signing in accordance with Cap. 553 for handling statutory documents and procedures. He queried whether the Administration would enact legislation or, by way of subsidiary legislation, propose a legislative amendment to the existing statutory provisions on digital signing.

GCIO said that “iAM Smart” would provide an additional function of digital signing, which was supported by digital certificate. Given that a signature requirement under the law could be satisfied by a digital signature supported by a recognized digital certificate as provided by Cap. 553, no legislative amendment would be required.