Tangerine dreams of lucky Budget

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 March, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 March, 1994, 12:00am

IT has taken months of preparation, countless meetings, intense lobbying, considerable arithmetic and not a little arm-twisting, but it is finally here.

Financial Secretary Sir Hamish Macleod's third Budget was waved in front of a gaggle of jostling journalists yesterday.

It was meant to be an opportunity for the territory's hacks to take photographs and television pictures of the much-hyped document. Inevitably, it also turned into a furious question and answer session. Well, furious questions, few answers.

''Is it a give-away Budget?'' gurgled one newspaperman as he wrestled with a rival from a television station whose camera wires had wrapped themselves around his neck in the scrummage.

''How many pages does it run to? Who will benefit most?'' yelled others.

Sir Hamish was giving little away. ''We have just had a very good year both financially and economically. . . . It's an optimistic budget,'' were his most revealing comments.

Assembled journalists keen for more insights were left to ponder the significance of the evidence before their eyes. What we had was a document bound in a lucky tangerine colour. This would seem to indicate another financially fortuitous year ahead. Could we therefore look forward to generous tax cuts? ''No comment.'' It was certainly a slim volume - about the same as last year's. Would this imply that Sir Hamish plans nothing too radical? ''No comment''.

Would its title, ''Managing Prosperity'', indicate that there would be winners and losers in the allocation of resources? And who would they be? ''No comment.'' As everyone was ushered from Sir Hamish's office in Lower Albert Road, a cartoon of that rare event, a lively Legislative Council session, was knocked awry. Would that be indicative of Legco's reaction to the Budget? No comment.

A bilingual guide highlighting the major points of the 1994/95 Budget and how they affect the average Hong Kong citizen will be distributed free at selected MTR stations from 4.30 pm today by the Government.

Copies can also be obtained from the Government Information Services Publishing Sub-Division, French Mission Building, Battery Path, Central, from the Government Publications Centre at the General Post Office Building, Central, and from all District Offices between 4.30 pm and 7 pm.