Patten's broadcast warning against 'creeping socialism'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 1997, 12:00am

The Governor warned yesterday against allowing the territory to fall victim to 'creeping socialism'.

In RTHK's Letter to Hong Kong, Chris Patten said the laissez faire economic policy, successful over the past decades, should not be changed.

He rejected claims the territory could have done better if the Government had adopted different economic policies. He said people who believed the Government was a better judge of the market than businessmen were 'wholly alien to Hong Kong'.

He opposed the idea taxpayers' money should be used to subsidise unprofitable firms and sunset industries, and said there should not be any tax holidays, tariff incentives, exemptions from licences or controls, or privileged access to transport and other facilities.

'We have never needed to lure investors with gimmicks. Our tax rates are so low, our economy so open and free, that artificial incentives would make no sense,' he said.

'I really think it would be an awful error if our road map for the future of Hong Kong's economy took us back down the highways and byways towards indicative planning and creeping socialism.' He said the Government should simply concentrate on making Hong Kong the region's most efficient business location.

'Whatever we do, we shouldn't throw away a winning ticket,' he said.