Budget should include changes to tax system
The government has asked people to share their ideas before the budget speech for 2009-2010 is presented.
I would like to look at a number of areas on which our financial secretary should focus.
It is important to try and ensure people from the middle class keep buying goods and services in Hong Kong.
Therefore, I think the government should consider giving these people a tax rebate. Apart from encouraging them to spend it will help many of them with the financial difficulties they are experiencing.
Those citizens from the richer echelons of society should actually pay more tax, say an increase of 1 or 2 per cent.
Hong Kong's largest companies should also pay this increase.
It is a small increase and the big firms and rich Hongkongers could easily afford it.
People who purchase a new car should have to pay HK$500,000 in tax.
This would help to relieve traffic congestion.
I would propose that help be given to those people on lower incomes, citizens from the grass roots of society.
The government should consider providing social security payments for one year, to help them cope with the economic crisis.
If they do not get some help, then I fear we could see social unrest in Hong Kong.
For many years the Hong Kong dollar has been pegged to the US dollar.
This means that we are directly affected by changes in the US in interest rates and other monetary policies implemented by Washington.
This may be a good time, during the economic downturn, to reconsider this relationship.
It think it is important for us to find ways to develop a much higher degree of autonomy when it comes to this aspect of Hong Kong's monetary policies.
These are not just financial issues. The financial secretary and other ministers have to consider the political implications of the decisions that they make.
Alpha Keung, Sai Wan Ho
U-turns are avoidable
I refer to Rob Leung's letter ('Flawed leader', December 9).
Your correspondent referred to what he saw as an apparent vacuum in the government's decision-making process.
So how do these things work in government?
Administrative officers come up with strategies which are then discussed, amended and finally approved by ministers or permanent secretaries?
Given the number of U-turns recently, where are the gaps?
Is it down to bad strategies developed by administrative officers and approved by ministers or permanent secretaries, or is it a case of these ministers or permanent secretaries simply not having the time and sense of responsibility for discussion, amendment and approval of policies?
U-turns, certainly the avoidable ones, are a waste of time and money from a taxpayer's point of view.
It is far better to have strategies well thought out and then effectively executed.
Arthur Tam, Causeway Bay
Extend hand of friendship
Relations between Beijing and the leadership in Taiwan have improved greatly following the successful election of Kuomintang candidates and less rhetoric about independence for Taiwan.
Since the mainland claims that [Taiwan is part of the PRC] and it should have the allegiance and loyalty of the Taiwanese people, wouldn't it be better to attract them by dropping its militaristic attitude towards fellow Chinese on the island?
I refer to the threat posed by the stationing of long-range missiles on the mainland coast facing Taiwan. They are estimated to number around 700 to 800 and are a cause for fear among Taiwanese civilians. Mistakes and misunderstanding in military matters are not unknown, so these weapons are a serious hindrance to the cause of reconciliation and peace.
It would be very desirable for the PLA to openly dismantle the missile bases and invite Taiwanese citizens to witness the destruction of these threatening devices.
Mainland authorities often use bulldozers to crush bogus medicines, pornographic materials and similar illegal items. But lethal weapons aimed at fellow Chinese are even more obscene and damaging.
Since the weapons are only expensive threats that will never be used anyway, why not dramatise their elimination by a big public display?
An event like that would receive worldwide publicity and definitely speed up the desired union with Taiwan.
J. Garner, Sham Shui Po
Drug test idea has downside
It has been proposed that suspected illicit drug users could be given compulsory tests.
Supporters of such a scheme argue that it would help target drug users, especially in schools.
We cannot ignore this problem among young people and it is worth discussing.
One advantage to having these tests is that it may scare some students who are considering drug use and deter them, because they know they can be taken out of the class and tested. This is relevant given that drug use has increased among young people.
However, there are disadvantages, such as the argument that compulsory testing infringes people's rights.
Schools may also be concerned that if a number of students test positive, it will harm the image of the school.
Also, young people who take drugs may only do so at weekends, so if they were tested during the week the result would be negative.
Ultimately the best way to curb drug use among young people is through education and the school and parents both have a role to play in this regard.
Parents have to get the message across to their children about the side effects of taking drugs.
Bonnie Ng , Tin Shui Wai
Deterrent effect worth noting
I support calls for compulsory tests in schools of suspected illegal drug users.
First it will act as a deterrent and so lead to a decrease in drug use. Also, if a student tests positive, then the school and family members can focus on them and help them deal with their problem.
Police are having to undertake too many checks of young people in public places to see if they have drugs. Early detection in schools will reduce the number of these searches and police can be deployed to more important tasks.
S. Kwok, Sheung Shui
Shoppers will pay for levy
The people who support the government's decision to impose the plastic bag levy are overlooking the other price that is going to be paid by us consumers.
Observing supermarket cashiers trying to place purchases in the motley assortment of so-called 'environmentally-friendly' bags reveals that it is taking them two or three times as long to complete the packing.
This means supermarkets are paying more in wages for this part of the service. And where will the money come from to offset these increased costs? Product price increases, of course. We stand to lose out two-fold because of this nonsense levy.
Danny Thurston, Fanling