Finance chief's approval rating falls after speech
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah's public approval rating dropped by eight percentage points immediately after announcing what was probably his last budget.
However, those who liked his blueprint gave him higher marks on average than last year.
The findings, in a survey by the University of Hong Kong, highlighted the mixed public reception for the financial chief's fifth budget.
While the middle-class in general liked the proposals, the poor were angry, believing that they had again been left behind.
The poll showed that 38 per cent of respondents were satisfied with the budget, while 26 per cent said they were not dissatisfied.
Those aged over 50 were more positive towards Tsang's performance and the budget, while those aged between 18 and 29 were generally unhappy with both, the findings showed.
The survey ranked the budget as 'slightly below average' when compared with the previous four, but still better than the previous one - which was so unpopular that it triggered a mass protest and forced Tsang to significantly revise his plans. Public anger only eased after he gave a HK$6,000 cash handout to every permanent adult Hong Kong resident.
The average mark the public gave to this year's budget was 57 out of 100, up 6.5 compared with last year, which scored a record-low rating.
Tsang's approval rating dropped eight percentage points to 29 per cent, according to the survey, which polled about 1,000 people. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 per cent.
Tsang was confronted by many angry callers on a radio phone-in programme yesterday. Most were poor and they accused him of doing little to ease their burden.
Many measures Tsang announced on Wednesday for those on lower incomes - such as subsidies for public housing rent and electricity - do not apply to those who live in subdivided flats and do not receive welfare. Many middle-class callers thanked Tsang for the wide range of tax relief measures, with some urging the government to help the poor.
Tsang said they would be helped through recurrent government spending on such areas as education.
Officials decided against cash handouts because of the criticism this generated last year, he said, adding that the new measures would benefit various classes of people.
The amount by which profits tax was reduced for 2011-12 in the budget, subject to a ceiling of HK$12,000
Number out of a population of 7 million left paying salaries tax after an increase in the basic allowance
The amount, in Hong Kong dollars, provided by John Tsang in the budget for a basket of relief and fiscal measures