Budget surplus beats expectations - again

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 May, 2008, 12:00am

The budget surplus in the past financial year reached a new high of HK$123.6 billion - HK$8 billion more than the finance chief's estimate two months ago.

The government yesterday said the 2007-08 financial year closed with a surplus higher than the HK$115.6 billion forecast by John Tsang Chun-wah in his budget in February.

The increase was due to better-than-expected revenue in profits tax and stamp duty towards the end of the year, as well as vigorous cost controls across departments, the administration said.

A government spokesman said revenue amounted to HK$358.4 billion for the year, HK$5.5 billion higher than the original forecast.

Spending was HK$2.5 billion lower than planned, mainly as a result of efforts to rein it in and spend only where necessary, the spokesman said.

The reserves had risen to HK$492.9 billion by the end of March, a third higher than the HK$369.3 billion in March of last year.

It is not the first time the annual budget surplus has been underestimated. Last year, former financial secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen's forecast was HK$3.5 billion short of the surplus. The discrepancy in 2005-06 was HK$10 billion.

For a rainy day

Over the past year, Hong Kong's fiscal reserves, in HK dollars, increased to: $123.6b