The DAB reckons that the Budget this year is a pragmatic one, which has basically struck a balance between livelihood issues and the government’s financial sustainability.
The newly released Budget mainly consists of financial preparations for more than one hundred measures announced in the Policy Address last month. By and large, the Budget has responded to the DAB’s demand for making up for the insufficiency of the Policy Address in helping the middle class and SMEs. Measures such as the continuing of the salaries tax reduction, the waiving of rates and the increase of allowance for maintaining parents are likely to relieve livelihood burdens for the middle class. As for the SMEs, the budget has also provided appropriate assistance in the forms of profits tax concession, increase of land supply for commercial/business use, extension of the application period for special concessionary measures under SME Financing Guarantee Scheme, the providence of matching funds for the retail industry to adopt IT measures, and the pledge to foster the development of industries with potentials, such as the fashion wholesaling and retailing industries on the district level.
It is a fact that the “sweetener measures” are reduced this year, but in view of the diminishing budget surplus, the DAB thinks the adjustment is understandable.
The Financial Secretary has spent substantial length of passages in the Budget to discuss public expenditures and revenues and forecast possible structural deficit in future. From the DAB’s view, the government should proactively foster economic development, sustainable enhancement of the city’s capacity, and diversification of industries so as to further improve Hong Kong’s competitiveness and livelihoods.
It was also revealed in the Budget that the Working Group on Long-Term Fiscal Planning has submitted estimates on public expenditures and revenues in future, corresponding improvement measures, as well as a proposal on the feasibility of a “Future Fund”. The DAB hopes that the government can announce relevant details as soon as possible, such as the necessity, functions and objectives of the fund, in order to enable public discussion and gauge social consensus on the long term financial planning of Hong Kong.
Press contact: The Vice Chairperson of the DAB, Legislative Councilor Starry LEE Wai-king 77700820、The Caucus Convenor of the DAB, Legislative Councilor IP Kwok-him 77700988