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  • Jul 30, 2014
  • Updated: 10:01am
NewsHong Kong

CY Leung ally slams 'foolish' HK$200b fiscal giveaway

Tycoon claims financial chief splashed cash 'out of self-interest' on sweeteners when it would have been better spent on hospitals and schools

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 July, 2013, 7:46pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 July, 2013, 5:32am

Property tycoon Ronnie Chan Chi-chung stepped up his war of words with John Tsang Chun-wah yesterday, claiming the financial secretary's dishing out of sweeteners worth nearly HK$200 billion in recent years was "foolish".

Chan, chairman of the Hang Lung Group and a key supporter of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, said the money would have been better spent on schools, hospitals and offices.

He followed up his remarks on Tuesday - when he said Tsang was a "big sinner" - by saying the cash could have built 30 Universities of Science and Technology or 30 Queen Mary Hospitals. Tsang hit back on Wednesday by describing Chan's comments as "too much".

In his latest attack, Chan said Tsang kept giving handouts because he feared public criticism.

"He should do the right things for the overall interests of Hong Kong, rather than his own selfinterest. It was foolish for him to keep on handing out goodies," Chan said.

"More shopping malls, exhibition halls and office spaces could be built on the Kai Tak site to push down operating costs for the business sector."

Since the 2007-08 financial year, the administration has handed out HK$170 billion in one-off relief measures.

The vice-chairman of the think tank SynergyNet, Brian Fong Chi-hang, said that instead of spending on one-off relief measures, the administration should have spent the money on driving long-term policies.

Chan also hit out at the government's policy of giving out HK$6,000 cash handouts to permanent residents over the age of 18 two years ago.

"To hand out cash is not a wise thing, especially when it is handed out indiscriminately," Chan said. "Mr Li Ka-shing got HK$6,000 and I got HK$6,000. I happened to give it away, and I am sure many people did the same. It is ridiculous."

Chan said such a practice raised expectations of populism, which was "very dangerous" to any society. He said it would lead the city down a "socialistic" path, with people expecting handouts year after year.

Last night Tsang's office said the government had been practising the principle of "to spend what should be spent" in making use of public resources, including investing in transport, medicine and education. In this financial year, expenditure on infrastructure was estimated at more than HK$70 billion.

It said the one-off relief measures were made after extensive consultations.

A government source said: "Most one-off relief measures were introduced in response to calls by political parties. If the financial secretary didn't offer any relief measures, he would have turned a blind eye to political realities."


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Hong Kong, a city, and merely with a population of 7 million doesn’t need a financial secretary on its payroll. New York City of 8 million has a comptroller whose job qualification is an accountant and whose job is to keep a record what has received and what has spent of city’s tax revenue. And the mayor is his boss. I don’t think many locals even know who their comptroller is. Hong Kong after the hangover, might want to streamline its government structure and get a comptroller whose royalty is not to UK before the hangover or Central China now but to his boss the Chief Executive. Administratively more efficient and financially less costly too. And CY Leung needs not to pretend to be the boss.
Please put 10b in the public healthcare system and put more nurses and doctors on duty. The number of people waiting for treatment is insane, and the hospitals themselves look like refuges from 1970.
"Most one-off relief measures were introduced in response to calls by political parties. If the financial secretary didn't offer any relief measures, he would have turned a blind eye to political realities." So, it's the politicians, stupid!! HK was a prosperous and governable place before these politicians come on the scene. Let's shoot them!(?)
The HK govt has the mindset of making money and accumulating huge reserves from her own people. Apart from the Govt Associates (tycoons, civil servants, welfare dependants, licensed monopolies), all other non-associate ordinary people are most likely to be exploited.
HK is a rich financial centre for the rich and the vested interest. The majority poor have to suffer with long working hours (or two jobs) and live in poverty.
Seriously, why do Ronnie Chan's comments get a response from the government or published? The property developer's advice is to build more malls and commercial property -- "More shopping malls, exhibition halls and office spaces could be built on the Kai Tak site to push down operating costs for the business sector." Are you kidding me? Hey Ronnie, why are business operating costs (basically their rent) so high in the first place? Could it be that real estate developers like well, you, have jacked up the rents to such unaffordable heights? Sure Tsang is immoral, if by moral Chan means that god intended public wealth to be concentrated in the hands of a small number of tycoons. I think god did that on the 7th day before he rested.
It frustrates me to defend John Tsang -- who thought up the 6.000 give-away to HK resident card holders -- yes that means ppl living in Australia and Canada, and UK, US...can come back and claim 6K from taxes they never paid. While expats and other shorter term residents who did pay tax got nothing. Thank you Tsang, hope you are still around when we get democracy. Wait, I take that back.
There could certainly be more investment into infrastructure, health, and education. Given HK’s high population density, we should aim for rail based transport to be the dominant form of transport with over 80% of commuters taking rail on a daily basis. Currently, I believe the ratio of rail is only about 40 to 60%. This could be achieved by building additional MTR lines. A good idea is to build new lines--parallel to the original red, green, blue lines built 30 years ago--to provide redundancy, alleviate MTR congestion, and improve coverage to areas not developed/reclaimed back then. Other possibilities to consider would be a direct connections between Tuen Mun and Lantau, Tai Wai to Tsing Yi via Tsuen Wan, and Shatin/Tai Wai to Kowloon Bay/Kwun Tong. The additional MTR lines would help to reduce the need for feeder services, thus reducing road congestion and its corresponding air pollution.
Healthcare is definitely an area for improvement. There are some really long waiting times at public hospitals, it’s really quite unreal. New construction should favor general outpatient clinics rather than full blown hospitals, since I suspect many who I have seen in accident & emergency probably don’t need to go if there were more slots for general medicine.
While construction of more universities is a good thing, there is are two issues with this. I wonder what the number of annual jobs created that actually require a university education versus the number of annual university graduates. I suspect HK does not produce numbers of jobs that actually fully utilize a university education. Secondly, there is an issue of university reputation. HK has 9 universities and numerous other institutes of higher learning. Do we really need more universities, or do we need out universities to be higher quality? On the regional and global stage, only HKU, HKUST, and CUHK are well regarded. Instead of building more universities, I propose boosting funding to existing universities to increase the size of their campuses, improve the quality of the education they provide, the research they produce, and their global recognition, which helps their graduates more than creating brand new universities.
OldPeak Toad
I have known this for years; there are three types of people living in Hong Kong :
1. Crooks ( the "Elite")
2. Cheats ( The Hong Kong "Business Man - ehh Woman" )
3. Fools ( You and me - aspiring to join 1. and 2. above)
Have your pick!
We've a low tax rate & only a minority pay tax. Both the rich & poor benefit as compare to other countries. Thankfully, we can & should spend to help the poorest of the poor - like a program to eradicate caged home. Spending to create good paying jobs is another - thru better education to provide talent; & make HK attractive to businesses. This is government's job; not robbing the rich to pay the 'poor'. Other places, it's robbing your grandchildren to pay you. Hey, even Ronnie won't turn down more money - though not handouts.
Mr. Chan is not a very likeable or admirable person, but the substance of his comments on this subject are right on target. I agree with him 100%.




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