Hong Kong’s new financial chief urged to put fiscal surplus to good use in his budget

Parties call for relief measures to help needy and long-term investment in society

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2017, 7:10pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2017, 9:59pm

The new financial secretary was urged to make long-term investments and provide one-off relief measures for the city’s needy in his budget as the fiscal surplus looks set to exceed HK$75 billion.

Paul Chan Mo-po – who took up the post last month after John Tsang Chun-wah resigned to run in the Hong Kong leadership election – will unveil the blueprint on February 22. It will be the last under the administration of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

“The administration had given out one-off sweeteners in previous budgets but was reluctant to launch any long-term investment in society,” said lawmaker Hui Chi-fung, one of a dozen Democrats who protested at government headquarters in Admiralty on Wednesday.

“It should really take up the responsibility this time, especially when it is expected to record a surplus of more than HK$75 billion.”

Among 25 suggested measures, the Democratic Party called on the government to fully subsidise all full-day kindergarten education, which would involve more than HK$1.17 billion in recurrent expenditure per year.

It also urged the government to increase the annual elderly health care voucher from HK$2,000 to HK$2,500, which would cost HK$1 billion.

Hong Kong budget to include short-term stimulus measures, finance chief hints

Protesters from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the largest pro-establishment party, also marched to government headquarters, urging the administration to offer more relief measures, including a full-year waiver of housing rates, a one-month rent exemption for public housing tenants and an electricity subsidy.

As of last December, the government had recorded a cumulative year-to-date surplus of HK$65.4 billion while the fiscal reserves stood at HK$908.3 billion.