Cut taxes, freeze charges: Liberals

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 January, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 January, 1998, 12:00am

Tax cuts and frozen charges would not affect a balanced Budget, the Liberal Party said yesterday.

The pro-business party has suggested a range of short-term and long-term measures to help the economy, some of which they will raise with Tung Chee-hwa today.

These measures include: Freezing salary increases for top-level officials and provisional legislators; Freezing charges for services such as water supplies and tunnel tolls; Reducing rates by one percentage point; Cutting salaries and profit taxes both by 1.5 percentage points; Delaying advance payments for tax due in April by six months; Exempting tax on mortgage payments; and Banning the importation of foreign labourers.

Party chairman Allen Lee Peng-fei said in view of the $30 billion surplus last year, the Government should be capable of managing a balanced Budget despite cuts in various areas.

'The Government should face the real situation, just like the CA Pacific case - the officials refused to do anything when they didn't understand the situation, but once they understood, they would see the need to do something,' he said.

He criticised the Financial Secretary's comments that 'to seek temporary applause from the public with the taxpayers' hard-earned money' was 'too political'.

Party treasurer James Tien Pei-chun said they were not encouraging the Government to 'lavishly increase public spending', but to cut revenue to stimulate economic recovery. He said the Government always underestimated the surplus.

Mr Lee and Mr Tien denied the proposals would hamper foreign investors' confidence in the economy. Mr Lee said he had talks with bankers, who looked forward to the Government 'taking the lead' to renew the economy.

Mr Tien said that unlike other Southeast Asian countries, Hong Kong had abundant reserves and no foreign loans.