Acting Hong Kong finance chief deflects talk Beijing won’t elevate him to succeed John Tsang

Professor Chan Ka-keung insists he is focusing on ‘working on the budget’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 January, 2017, 1:30pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 January, 2017, 5:52pm

Hong Kong’s acting financial minister described himself as a team player willing to do whatever necessary to coordinate the government’s work amid speculation Beijing could appoint the city’s development minister as financial chief as early as this afternoon.

Professor Chan Ka-keung, who has been secretary for financial services and the treasury since 2007, also said he and his colleagues in the treasury bureau had been preparing for the city’s annual budget to be unveiled on February 22. He expressed confidence their work could be completed on schedule.

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Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah tendered his resignation on December 12 in an expected bid for the city’s leadership race on March 26.

Since December 12, Chan has served as the city’s acting financial chief. However, the central government was expected to name development minister Paul Chan Mo-po as Tsang’s official successor, based on the recommendation of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

Chan sidestepped a question on Monday whether he would feel “disrespected” if he was not elevated to the position of financial secretary.

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“I am a member of the government’s team,” he said after addressing a forum in Wan Chai on Asian finance. “Under any scenario, whatever I do is in coordination with the government’s team.”

“I and my team from the treasury have been working on the budget and on supporting the policy address [to be delivered by the chief executive on Wednesday],” he added. “We are working smoothly and in accordance to our schedule ... I believe that the work will be completed on time.”