Happy Chinese New Year. I wish you exceptional health, joy and prosperity in the year of the tiger. It is quite unfortunate that this year’s celebrations have coincided with the fifth wave of COVID-19 outbreaks in Hong Kong. The dire situation has seen daily confirmed cases surge into the thousands, compared to the “mere” double digits recorded when we presented the Institute’s tax policy and budget proposals for 2022-23 in January. In face of the many challenges emerging from the pandemic, I encourage you to remain vigilant and prioritize your well-being and health. For those looking to establish healthy hybrid working practices for the office, we have a “How to” article in this issue on with some great insights.
Indeed, with the pandemic impacting the global economy and putting pressure on Hong Kong, measures in this year’s budget will be critical towards providing relief to businesses in the short term and revitalizing Hong Kong’s economy. During the announcement on 23 February, the Financial Secretary introduced a number of targeted relief measures, including HK$10,000 consumption vouchers, to help the public tide over these difficult times. Alongside my colleagues, I took part in presenting the Institute’s views on the budget to the media afterwards. The Institute has advocated for initiatives to help the public cope with ensuing economic pressures in the short-term as well as measures to improve Hong Kong’s fiscal position in the medium to long term. We are pleased to see the government is actively seeking avenues to relieve financial burdens for Hong Kong’s citizens, and we are happy to note that many of the suggestions from the Institute were included in the 2022-23 Budget. Nonetheless, the Institute has recommended that the government review the city’s revenue model to address its longstanding narrow tax base. You can read more about the Institute’s commentary in this month’s “Thought leadership” column.
Another highlight of the budget we are happy to support is the government’s sustainability strategies to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, which among others, included additional funding into the EV-charging at Home Subsidy Scheme and the expansion of the government’s green bond issuance. The Institute has repeatedly reaffirmed its commitment to taking the responsibility to minimize its own carbon footprint as well as enabling its members and stakeholders to contribute to a more sustainable future. As accountants, our roles have been growing in importance as the demand for environmental, social and governance information, and assurance increases in the business world.
Earlier in February, I took part in a “meet the media” session organized by the Institute. I discussed a wide range of topics including the regulatory reform, the role of the Institute moving forward, the future of the profession, and latest developments of the Qualification Programme. During the interview, journalists were especially interested in the retention of talent within the profession. This is a topic we also explore in this month’s feature, where we found digital transformation in the profession and communicating the profession’s value to society to aspiring CPAs could be the key to attracting more talent. Read the story here.
Working with the media to better engage the wider public about the Institute and the profession is, in fact, one of our key strategies in the coming year. As I mentioned in my message in the January issue, the year of the tiger will be a transformative year for the Institute. With the discussions on the transition under the regulatory reform underway, my colleagues at the Institute and I have been tirelessly planning ahead on how we will reposition ourselves as a body, rebuild our image in society, and reinforce our members’ trust in us. In early February, the Council held its annual Strategy Day to lay down the blueprint for the coming year with key strategic focuses and a clear road map. Rest assured, the leadership team of the Institute will make every effort to bring these plans to fruition and ensure we can better serve our members. More information will be shared with members in due time, so please stay tuned.
Loretta Fong CPA (practising)