In the pink
WHAT a cheerful Budget. But the public's response to the last Budget from Sir Hamish Macleod, who is taking early retirement to make way for a local successor in August, has been mixed.
However, it can't be denied that Sir Hamish was cleverer than before in formulating the annual budget by paying adequate attention to an election year.
There were no drastic increases in taxation besides two mild ones. Allowances were also made to most taxpayers except the top 2 per cent who pay the standard rate.
Fairly speaking, given the pessimistic forecast over the local economy, which was elicited by the slump in both the property and stock markets late last year, lasting to early this year, the fiscal measures listed in the Budget brought us a little surprise.
But should we feel cheerful at the allowances being made? I don't think so. As inflation remains high this year and wage increases will be suppressed in face of a downward forecasting economy, it is doubtful whether the living standards of Hong Kong people will be improved with the help of these allowances.
Though they look generous, with the prevalence of small families, the increase of child allowances do little to help. The first two children of a family receive only a 10 per cent increase. Maybe Sir Hamish is being humorous by thinking that Hong Kong can hold more people by encouraging the public to rear more children or he has the enough foresightto relieve the burdens of a second-wife family by granting children born in mainland China, the right of abode here.
To make life easier, I think the FS should introduce more allowances to meet different needs. One of the new allowances I suggest should be introduced is for education programmes taken by adults, whose endeavours in improving themselves deserve rewards.
The Government should spend more effort on preventing tax evasions, not only on individuals but big corporations also. The gap between the rich and the poor must be tightened through a fair fiscal policy. Nevertheless, Sir Hamish's pink Budget should be welcomed and may we hope his local successor will bring us such a cheerful budget next year? Y.M. CHOI New Territories