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  • Oct 2, 2014
  • Updated: 5:04am
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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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Giwaffe
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.
Giwaffe
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.
daily
Another hypocrite who is not qualified to make such comments............
Byebye
Good analysis, jve. Hong Kong government, please take note.
aplucky1
macau regularly?
they give it out EVERY MONTH and they seem to survive
ianson
Medical services in Hong Kong are far short of developed nation status (we spend less than half what we should). Those 30 new QMH's would have made the difference. Instead, Tsang merely stoked inflation with his hand-outs.
megafun
Big Sinner is an under-statement, Tsang is a Devil, robbing commoners to help the poor, while allowing the rich to avoid taxes through HUge loopholes in our simple "low" tax system that any dummy accountant can find tax-avoidance means. If Tsang is to repent, maybe he should follow Europe and UK's route in tax avoidance!

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