Mind the spending gap

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 12:00am

The average total tax revenue of OECD countries was 36.9 per cent of GDP, more than double the average figure of 17 per cent for Hong Kong between 1990-91 and 2002-03.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries spent, on average, 21.2 per cent of their GDP as social expenditure - defined as cash benefits, direct provision of goods and services, and tax breaks for low-income households, the elderly, disabled, sick, unemployed or young people.

Hong Kong's combined public spending on social welfare and housing, two items that fall most closely under the OECD definition of social expenditure, constituted only 4.9 per cent of GDP.

Most OECD countries' public expenditure on health ranged between 5 and 8 per cent of their GDP, but the figure for Hong Kong was just 2.7 per cent.

The gap between Hong Kong and the OECD countries on education spending was smaller.

While we spent about 4.4 per cent of GDP, the average for the OECD was 5 per cent.