A sober affair

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 March, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 March, 1995, 12:00am

SIR Hamish Macleod's last hurrah was, as the pundits had suggested, a sober affair. Sir Hamish may have been moved to offer some bigger tax breaks for the territory but in the end the overriding concern was paving the smoothest path possible for the transition.

Certainly Sir Hamish bordered on the side of caution. Tax giveaways were for last year, this year the catchword was caution.

As 1997 approaches and the outlook for Hong Kong becomes foggier Sir Hamish has opted to boost the reserves to ensure the territory's financial stability and to allay any fears from international investors there will be a drain on funds in the final years.

It is an understandable approach and will reassure all sides that the future is clear, at least financially.

But the question still remains - for how long will the Hong Kong Government continue to take in more than it spends? For how long must taxpayers watch as the reserves climb without being offered a rebate.

There is no doubt that a healthy fiscal cushion needs to be in place over the remaining years of Britain's rule, but the balance will need to be redressed. It could be a grand gesture on the part of the incoming SAR government.



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