Thinking on GST just not cricket

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 September, 2006, 12:00am

After confessing his frustration at the public's intellectual inadequacy in understanding the need for a goods and services tax (GST), Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen (right) yesterday tried a different tack.

On Monday he said: 'We overestimated society's understanding of the topic. Hong Kong people are such frequent travellers that we thought they should know the topic reasonably well. Apparently this is not the case.'

So it's time to treat the common people like five-year-olds. Speaking at a GST seminar in Wan Chai yesterday, Mr Tang dispensed with charts, statistics and economics. Instead, he told the audience about the fable of the lazy cricket and the busy ant.

'The feeling of autumn is upon us with cool mornings in the last few days. Winter will come soon,' he said in a gentle, paternal voice. 'Everyone wants to play and lounge around like the cricket during the summer. But if we prepare in the summer for winter, we can all be like the ant that enjoys a plentiful and secure winter, instead of ending up like the unfortunate cricket.'

He was speaking in metaphors, warning that the next economic downturn could wipe out any excess reserve the government has built up if we failed to expand the tax base.