Budget a case of lost opportunities

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 February, 2013, 3:33am

Another year, another budget and, surprise, surprise, another surplus.

Despite overwhelming objections expressed by the public with regard to annual handouts that divert resources from long overdue improvements to our social structure, our politicians have not taken heed.

If the administration continues to reduce annual tax on income, we will end up with a situation where there will be an outcry from the already low number of residents who pay salaries tax.

Many middle-class taxpayers have voiced opinions that instead of dishing out a few thousand dollars that make no difference to their lifestyle, they would prefer the accumulated sums to be spent on addressing some of the problems our community faces.

There would also be concerns over another one-month rent rebate for public housing tenants. Hundreds of thousands of residents, shelling out substantial proportions of their salaries to cover mortgages and rents on the private market, would strongly object to more largesse for those lucky families, sometimes comprising four or more wage earners, who are paying peanuts in rent for their homes.

A glance at the payroll of any large corporation indicates that many recipients of comfortable salaries live in public housing.

This cumulative budget surplus (which will include an additional HK$50 billion expected this year) windfall could have paid for a pension fund that would have lifted thousands of struggling elderly folk out of poverty and provided the seed money for future disbursements.

Long overdue renovations to public hospitals could have been funded. Instead, much of it has been squandered.

Not only are solutions to poverty and health care being ignored, our city's infrastructure is falling to pieces.

Cross any main street and risk falling flat on your face because of the uneven surfaces. Our pavements are a disgrace.

Grubby vermin-ridden alleys are commonplace. Promised greening programmes have never materialised.

It is high time that all parties in the Legislative Council unite for once to demand that the financial secretary, instead of delivering short-term relief measures, devotes the 2013 surplus to projects that will achieve tangible improvements in one or more fields.

Candy Tam, Wan Chai