Quick, prop her up, the tax inspector's knocking at the door
IF you are a chain-smoking property speculator who dreams of driving your four grandparents around in an electric car, this was truly a Budget with you in mind.
And if you're a chain-smoking property speculator who doesn't have four grandparents, you had better get some.
The Government's figures show that a single person on $20,000 a month is $12,400 a year better off with a dependent grandparent thanks to the new granny allowance.
No doubt the folks at Coopers and Lybrand, Arthur Andersen and the like are already trying to stretch this loophole so it will go around Pacific Place.
And the market price of aged relatives has already doubled.
They've got government encouragement, too.
Printed left is an excerpt from the official Budget documents, which looks like an ad for slimming pills or phonecards.
Just look at that grin: ''I lost 36 per cent from my tax bill in just two weeks - you can too!'' If the concessions are extended not only to grandparents - of which four is the maximum for humans - but to great-grandparents, then we could see the unearthing of some remarkable family trees.
Dodge city WHO are the mystery tax dodgers? During his remarks on ''taxpayers' obligations'', Sir Hamish said that in one profession 224 tax dodgers had been found out of 237 cases examined.
''It's not fair to point the finger for those who are not doing it,'' he later said. ''I'm sure you can guess who it is.'' In fact, one insider says the tax-dodging prize is to be awarded to those popular heroes - taxi drivers.
When Sir Hamish was discussing the matter, some disreputable character shouted out: ''Journalists!'' Another muttered: ''Tax accountants.'' McMuzzled ONE of the best-kept secrets about the Budget is that it is usually printed on Friday, and kept under lock and key for a full four days.
Government printers are the ones entrusted with the printing of this top-secret document, and a government aide was asked yesterday how they managed to keep it so hush-hush.
''You wouldn't get very much for an advance copy of the Budget,'' they said.
''But they also print school exam papers - and they would be worth something.'' The first Budget release comes at about midday, when a load of journalists are locked in a room with lots of copies of the Budget but no phones.
They are not let out until Sir Hamish has stopped speaking or collapsed with fatigue, whichever is first.
The Government yesterday bought 200 McDonald's Sausage McMuffins and Fillets-o-Fish to feed the multitude, but no Big Macs - Sir Hamish must be getting tired of the jokes.
It quickly became a contest between the different news media to set up the biggest camp, with Wharf Cable the undisputed winner.
Wharf sent more journalists than they had viewers, and commandeered a press table larger than the area they had wired up for reception.
Drifters from Guangdong province could have turned up for a free burger, although they'd have to have been pretty desperate to endure three hours reading the Budget speech to get it.
Hopefully, the government printers have a more sophisticated system for ensuring secrecy.
If they had been kept in a locked room with McDonald's food for three days, Chris Patten would have had the US Consul on the phone threatening to revoke MFN for human rights violations.
Dear prudents FULL credit must be given, however, for Sir Hamish's sudden realisation that he imprudently overuses the word ''prudent''.
In Tuesday's Lai See it was wagered that even if offered $1 million, he couldn't avoid using the word.
Sure enough, less than one minute into the speech he said: ''. . . the community rightly expects the Financial Secretary in particular to ensure the prudent . . .'' Oops.
He used it at least two more times in the speech, then again in the question-and-answer session afterwards.
''Sorry to use that word again,'' he said. ''I can't find a better word than 'prudent'.'' He also admitted that financial secretaries were ''consistently boring'', at least in a fiscal sense.
Punacea SENSITIVE measuring equipment similar to that used to find new atomic particles has found - buried deep within the Budget speech - two jokes.
This is believed to be a 100 per cent increase on last year.
On building new Housing Authority flats there are going to be ''concrete'' proposals.
''The present structure of duty on alcohol is a confusing cocktail.'' Unplugged A MOTORING expert was last night pouring brake fluid on the idea that cutting first registration tax would supercharge sales of electric vehicles, saying: ''These electric vehicles are awful. What's needed is an electric Lexus.'' One problem is that people only want to buy cars which are regularly stolen.
China Light and Power is testing an electric vehicle at the moment. Instead of testing it, perhaps they should drive it into the harbour and report it stolen, to try and get some consumer interest.