No magic solution to an ageing city's financial problems, John Tsang warns

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 5:18am

There is no "silver bullet" for all the problems facing the city, including that of an ageing population, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has warned.

Tsang, who defended his budget on RTHK's Letter to Hong Kong, warned that giving out sweeteners as relief measures should not be a permanent feature of the budget.

"There is no one 'silver bullet' that will solve all the problems at hand. There is simply no magic solution. An ageing population will impact on all areas of government and the economy, and require a co-ordinated approach to meet these challenges," Tsang said. In his budget speech last month, Tsang announced a working group to map out a financial strategy to cope with an ageing population and other long-term financial obligations.

He said that the government would increase spending on services for the elderly, health care and social security and make the services more cost-effective. But despite the dishing out of sweeteners in budgets over the past six years, Tsang said the measures were not and should not be seen as permanent features.

"We must be mindful of the possibility that our apparently high level of reserves at present can be depleted quickly in just a few years," he said.