Welfare lift before tax cuts, say democrats
Seven pro-democracy lawmakers have joined forces to warn against tax cuts in next week's budget.
Instead, they yesterday urged Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen to first increase spending in welfare and other areas that suffered serious cutbacks during the economic downturn.
They also called for a progressive levy on profits tax and a freeze in government fees that have a direct impact on the public.
Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, said: 'There have been growing calls for tax concessions, but we think the government should first spend money in other areas. We don't want people to think the whole legislature supports tax cuts.'
The other lawmakers in the united front are Kwok Ka-ki, Albert Cheng King-hon, Frederick Fung Kin-kee, Joseph Lee Kok-long, Albert Chan Wai-yip and Leung Kwok-hung. They denied their calls were against the interests of the middle class.
'Tax cuts do not necessarily benefit the middle class,' said Mr Chan, adding that taxpayers might want the government to use the money to speed construction of community facilities instead.
Mr Fung said: 'It is likely there will be a surplus this year. We think the government should first restore its spending on the needy.'
He was referring to the 11 per cent cuts in welfare payments for the disabled and elderly in 2003-04.
He rejected claims that a progressive profits tax would discourage foreign investment.
Group members criticised Mr Tang for turning down a request for a meeting on their proposals.
Ms Lau said it was too early to say whether the allies would vote against the budget as a bloc if their calls were ignored.