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  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 6:36pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 April, 2013, 3:03am

Just whose rainy day is it, Mr Tsang?

When you read about cases like that of 87-year-old Lee Lan and her middle-aged son who suffers from Down's Syndrome, it makes your blood boil. He has been on a government waiting list for almost a decade, for a subsidised home for a disabled person. All this time, his mother's health is failing. She worries that after she dies, no one will take care of him.

Their plight was highlighted in a Post story this week. There are thousands of people who suffer from mental or physical disabilities and are queueing for a place in a care home, which takes 10 to 12 years. In a city that prides itself on being rich and modern, this long waiting time is an outrage.

We may worry about never earning enough to buy a home. But our city is full of people from desperate families who don't even have a home where they can be properly cared for.

Hong Kong is sitting on HK$1.38 to HK$1.6 trillion in reserves, depending on how you calculate it, equivalent to 70 per cent of the city's gross domestic product. In 2012/13, our fiscal surplus is HK $64.9 billion - against an original forecast of a HK$3.4 billion deficit. But thanks to officials like our Ebenezer Scrooge of a financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, we won't be using a cent of that if the money doesn't come from our annual fiscal budget.

But year after year, Tsang shamelessly or incompetently projects a deficit, only to correct himself when he delivers a giant surplus. People like Tsang claim we need all that money to build solid public finances or save for a rainy day, but he never defines what he means by these.

Throughout the global financial crisis, he has cited this rainy day argument. But it never came. So we must save again for the next crisis, and never dip into our reserves. But how solid, for public finances, is solid? Our reserves are enough to pay for almost two years of public expenditure.

For our rich government and our powerful tycoons, a rainy day is actually a rare occurrence. But for the weak, vulnerable and poor in our society, every day is a struggle; every day is a rainy day.

Leung Chun-ying ran on an election platform of taking care of the grass roots. And he has started some worthwhile initiatives. Let's press him to do more with our obscenely high reserves.

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chaz_hen
It's all OK as long as HK continues to discuss the righteousness of giving away money to Mainland government entities under the guise of "earthquake relief".
Maybe Chan Chi-bun can drink a coffee whilst watching French movies??
wang.feng
Posting on behalf of reader johnyuan
"I don’t know what power a FS holds besides money but could go against CY Leung’s said policy (to be). Is this a balance of power within government structure? Who is the master and who is the subordinate in the Administration? I am still puzzled that Tsang with his lack of performance still being picked as the Financial Secretary – a political link with the local powerful? If so, what is all about? If not, can CY Leung get someone else to replace Tsang. A professional accountant as a city comptroller subordinate to Chief Executive or a mayor in other cities would be the right proven way to be. Get rid of this fancy title, expansive and confusing role in the Hong Kong government structure. "
donniemcm
Mr Lo, even though this old lady and son story is upsetting, please do not mix and wrongly match issues.
Having a lot of a savings is one thing. Addressing society issues properly is another.
And about examples of rainy days, just have a look at European countries with a huge debt and claiming bankruptcy ... you'll see that they will heartily say with regrets : "if I had kept some savings ...". Having 2 years money for public expenditure is a bit unconscious and too carpe diem as a way of life for a government.
So please stand up but shout smartly, thanks.
impala
So yesterday we have a Mr Lo investing proudly in arms manufacturers after a school massacre with no other objective than to enrich himself, and today we have a Mr Lo caring for the disabled in lower-income households. Will the real Alex Lo please stand up?

Yes, our FS is indeed incompetent, out-of-touch and more stubborn than an elephant with tunnel vision. We have known that for many years. It is nice to see Mr Lo discovering this too (better late than never), and even more touching that he is taking an interest in the large population of urban poor in Hong Kong. Yet, especially after yesterday's revelations, I remain sceptical of his intentions and motives. Does he perhaps hold shares in companies that would profit from spending more of our reserves?
johnyuan
I don’t know what power a FS holds besides money but evidently could go against CY Leung’s said policy (to be). Is this a balance of power within government structure? Who is the master and who is the subordinate in the Administration? I am still puzzled that Tsang with his lack of performance still remains as FS – a political deal with the local powerful? If so, what is all about? If not, can CY Leung get someone else to replace Tsang. A professional accountant serving CY Leung and his Administration perhaps will get numbers right and policy moving?

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