Lawmaker suggests more tax benefits to boost Hong Kong's low birth rate

In order to boost Hong Kong's birth rate, lawmaker Eunice Yung Hoi-yan suggested increasing the allowance for tax deduction to HK$25,000 for families with a second child and doubling the amount for families with four kids or more.

In a Legislative Council session on Wednesday, Yung blasted authorities' approach where they “encourage childbirth but will not overly intervene with the matter.”

She noted that the SAR's total fertility rate fell to 0.77 in 2021, far below the natural population replenishment rate of 2.1 and one of the world's lowest.

Yung also called on the government to introduce a “family-friendly enterprise certification” system to encourage companies to implement family-friendly policies to protect pregnant women's rights, interests, and maternity benefits.

Another piece of advice from Yung is providing subsidies for child-rearing and centralizing the management of facilities for community care services to alleviate families' financial burden.

Lawmaker Tan Yueheng also challenged why only the Labor and Welfare Bureau oversees the important aspect of fertility.

In reply, Secretary for Labor and Welfare Chris Sun Yuk-han said the issue concerns a wide range of policy aspects and bureaus, including the Health Bureau, the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau, the Education Bureau, and the Civil Service Bureau.

Sun continued that the Labour Department is planning to organize the Good Employer Charter 2024 to encourage bosses to implement family-friendly practices and adopt good human resource management.

He noted that paternity and maternity leave have increased to five days and 14 weeks in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

He stressed having a child is an important family decision that depends on factors, including personal preference, lifestyle, and economic and social situations.

“The government has implemented various measures to foster a supportive environment for childbearing … but should avoid excessive intervention,” Sun also said.