Call for budget to look ahead and spend more on the young
Forget the tax rebates; this year's budget should focus on investing in our next generation as the city's future is in their hands, says father of two
Jennifer Ngo and Dennis Chong
As the city's residents await the presentation of the budget on Wednesday, one man has voiced his views on how he wants the money to be allocated this year.
Tax rebates may be the fastest way to help relieve the financial burden on the middle class, but the budget should reflect better planning, including making spending on the younger generation a priority, he says.
"My children are the future of the city," said Lawrence Leung Kwan, a father of two.
"In future, they have to support not only [my wife and I], but also many other [elderly] people … Tax rebates are the most practical ... but the government should look ahead."
Last year's budget presented a basket of relief measures mostly beneficial to the middle class. These included a salaries tax rebate of up to HK$12,000, an increase in basic allowance from HK$108,000 to HK$120,000, and a property rates waiver.
The middle class do not benefit from welfare programmes, Leung said, and while many earn a decent amount, economic pressures have made it increasingly difficult for this sandwiched group to cope with rent.
As a result, many felt that the future of their younger generation was in jeopardy, he said.
The city's low birth rate, Leung said, had to be balanced out by allocating more resources to the next generation to better prepare them for the future.
The management consultant and his wife, a full-time housewife, have a son in Form Two and a daughter in Primary Six.
The family of four, who have a monthly income of about HK$50,000, live in a rented flat at South Horizons in Ap Lei Chau.
Leung said the government should spend more money to improve language teaching in schools.
"There are now fewer English schools, and honestly, our younger generation's language abilities have gone down," he said. "Improving our children's English will improving Hong Kong's future as an international city."
Leung, who was in favour of negative tax policies for couples with more children, said: "We should learn from Singapore [on how they encourage citizens to have children]."
Improvements should also be made in the medical sector to cater to the greying population, he said, adding that he frequently worries about the health of his elderly parents.
But Leung said he believed that many Hongkongers had already lost faith in the current administration.
The lack of responsible long-term planning had resulted in poor land and housing situations as well as a lack in education and medical resources, he said.
"I don't really have much hope," Leung said.
"It's not that I don't have expectations for this year's budget, but it's more like I don't have much trust and hope in this government.
"Most of my friends also don't have a positive attitude towards this administration."
Meanwhile, a teachers' group urged the government to spend some of the money from its expected budget surplus on improving services in the education sector.
The group, the Federation of Education Workers, said that money should be spent on various aspects to support teachers, students and schools in the city.