Medical and Health
104. As I mentioned in my first Budget, with an ageing population, healthcare presents the greatest challenge to the stability of our long-term public finances. After completing the first stage public consultation on healthcare reform in 2008, the Food and Health Bureau is now preparing for the second stage public consultation. In health care service reform, we have already set up the Working Group on Primary Care to put forward specific proposals on enhancing primary care. We have also implemented a number of pilot projects based on the concept of "money follows patient". These include the Influenza Vaccination Subsidy Scheme and the Elderly Health Care Voucher Pilot Scheme. These projects have laid the foundation for the enhancement of healthcare services through public-private partnership.
105. The Government will honour its pledge to increase healthcare expenditure to 17 per cent of recurrent expenditure by 2012. When the supplementary financing arrangements are finalised after consultation for implementation, we will draw an amount of $50 billion from the fiscal reserves to implement the reform, irrespective of what the final arrangements are.
106. In the next few years, we will make use of increased healthcare resources to strengthen services and take forward service reform. I will increase the recurrent subvention for the Hospital Authority over the next three financial years by about $870 million a year. In other words, the annual subvention in 2011-12 will be approximately $2.6 billion higher than at present. I have also earmarked some $840 million for the next three financial years to implement various complementary measures to strengthen primary care services and the support to chronic patients, promote public-private partnership, and develop a territory-wide electronic health record system.
107. As the public is attaching increasing importance to food safety, we are taking measures to support the development of food testing services, such as the provision of reputable accreditation services for private laboratories. This will help Hong Kong to develop into a food testing hub in the region.
108. Separately, for public health reasons, I propose to increase tobacco duty by 50 per cent with immediate effect. The duty on cigarettes will increase from around $0.8 to about $1.2 per stick. We will also continue to step up our efforts on smoking cessation, as well as on publicity and enforcement in tobacco control.