The Hong Kong government will give permanent residents HK$20,000 for each child that they have for the next three years, starting October 25, 2023, to tackle the city’s declining population growth. The measure, called the ‘newborn baby bonus‘, was announced by Chief Executive John Lee as part of his second policy address on Wednesday.
“We will provide a one-off cash bonus of HK$20,000 for each baby born today or after in Hong Kong to a parent who is a Permanent Resident. This measure will last for three years and will be reviewed then,” said Lee, adding that the government will also increase the accommodation-related tax deduction ceiling by 20% for taxpayers who live with their first child born on October 25, 2023 onwards, until the child turns 18 years old.
In addition, a certain number of flats will also be reserved for couples with newborns under the Home Ownership Scheme for the next three years, and these families will have their wait time for public housing reduced by one year, starting April 2024. The government will also roll out measures to support families struggling with fertility issues by providing them a deduction for any expenses they incur for assisted reproductive services, subject to a maximum of $100,000 a year.
Other measures that the government will undertake to encourage families to have children include opening 10 more aided standalone child care centres, extending the After-School Care Programme for Pre-primary Children to cover all districts in the SAR, and raising the Working Family Allowance by 15%.
During his address, Lee noted that, “Hong Kong’s birth rate remains at its lowest level. The average parity of local couples dropped to a record low of 0.9 in 2022.” Earlier this year, the Census and Statistics Department released its population projections for the territory for 2022-2046, in which authorities noted that there will be a “natural decrease” in the population, and a continued low fertility rate, although it will “rebound slightly” by 2046.
Header image credits: annakraynova via Canva