Budget delivery response 'mixed'
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The Government's break with tradition by presenting the Budget in three instalments has met a mixed reception from the financial services community.
There was consensus, however, that the new approach was worth repeating next year.
Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen started to unveil his economic forecasts, spending and revenues on February 27 and finished the process in the Legislative Council on Wednesday.
He said it made little sense to withhold publication of the main economic forecasts simply for the convenience of his Budget speech.
The territory's transition from a manufacturing to a services economy meant there was a need for access to the best information on the territory's performance and future prospects.
The chairman of Hong Kong and China tax practice at Ernst & Young, Marshall Byres, said: 'It made Wednesday's Budget an anti-climax but that was partly because Mr Tsang had nothing much to say.
'I would need to compare it with a proper Budget, where there is something substantive to say, to judge.' Mr Byres said the Financial Secretary's Budget speech, which was usually 11/2 hours long, could be pruned to 40 minutes if he had only revenues to reveal.
'It is worth trying again. My judgment is reserved because of the nature of the Budget this year. The concept is valid,' he said.
Price Waterhouse tax partner Rod Lee said he could not see the objective of delivering economic prospects separate from the Budget.
'I do not think it was necessary,' he said.
Arthur Andersen tax partner Marcellus Wong welcomed the move, saying it provided an opportunity to prepare for the main Budget details.
'It helps people to digest information bit by bit,' Mr Wong said.
'It also helps people to understand more about the revenue measures.'