Balance of payments data to get first public airing
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is set to publish Hong Kong balance of payments figures for the first time, in the February issue of its monthly bulletin.
The figures will show that Hong Kong had a slight balance of payments deficit in 1994 although there was no significant capital outflow from the territory in that year.
Sources involved in preparing the figures said the monetary authority was making a 'desk-top' estimate of the balance of payments from statistical data provided by banks and from the movement of Hong Kong's monetary reserves.
Sources said the study would show the balance of payments situation in 1993 and 1994. Hong Kong recorded a balance of payments surplus in 1993 but 1994 would show a slight deficit.
They said that the deficit was so small that it was not due to a large outflow of capital from the territory. It may, they said, be due simply to the fact that the property and stock markets performed badly in that year.
Another reason may be related to the expansion of the exchange fund. Capital invested in Hong Kong from overseas is an inflow of capital while the exchange fund's purchases of foreign currencies to expand the size of the fund is counted as a capital outflow.
So the capital outflow, they said, did not reflect any loss of confidence in Hong Kong.
The sources said publication of the figures would increase the territory's financial transparency and thus boost overseas investors' confidence in the run-up to the change in sovereignty.
It is believed that the monetary authority is hoping that by releasing the figures it will prompt the Government to publish them on a regular basis.