Public Finance

District councillors may get 20pc more in rent subsidy

Lawmaker Ip Kwok-him

The government is set to improve district councillors' remuneration packages, and this could include a HK$6,000 rise in their operating expenses subsidy to help them with their office rent.

Monday, 27 May, 2013, 4:21am

iBonds are little help in easing inflation and a bad bet financially

iBonds are little help in easing inflation and a bad bet financially

The game show here is that our government offers a three-year HK$10 billion bond issue, available in allotments of HK$10,000, which pays a coupon of the rate of consumer price inflation or a minimum of 1 per cent. Given that bank deposits over the past four years have carried interest rates averaging between zero and nothing while the CPI has averaged 3.2 per cent year over year and is at present higher and threatening to go higher yet, the iBond is obviously not a bad bet.

19 May 2013 - 3:55am

Meeting budget deadline impossible, Jasper Tsang warns

Jasper Tsang

The budget bill could not be passed by Wednesday even if the weeks-long filibuster ended, Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said. Officials have warned that funding for public services would be disrupted the next day.

13 May 2013 - 5:24am 5 comments

How to fund China's urbanisation

How to fund China's urbanisation

After extensive consultation, co-ordinated by the National Development and Reform Commission, the long-term plan for China's urbanisation is being finalised. Behind all the complex issues is one fundamental question: how will it be paid for?

13 May 2013 - 1:52am 6 comments

Bill delay may force bodies to raid their own reserves

John Tsang Chun-wah. Photo: Nora Tam

Some government department and publicly funded bodies may have to dip into their own reserves to maintain necessary services next month if the Legislative Council fails to pass the budget bill by the middle of this month.

2 May 2013 - 5:09am 1 comment

Just whose rainy day is it, Mr Tsang?

Lee Lan, 87 years old, takes care of her 45-year-old son Chan Chi-Bun, who has Down's Syndrome at Tsui Ping Estate, Kwun Tong. Photo: Dickson Lee

When you read about cases like that of 87-year-old Lee Lan and her middle-aged son who suffers from Down's Syndrome, it makes your blood boil. He has been on a government waiting list for almost a decade, for a subsidised home for a disabled person. All this time, his mother's health is failing. She worries that after she dies, no one will take care of him.

25 Apr 2013 - 3:03am 5 comments

China needs bold reform to counter slowdown in fiscal revenue growth

Chinese Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei. Photo: Reuters

The days of belt-tightening are finally here. China's latest fiscal data shows that, in the first quarter of this year, public revenue grew by only 6.9 per cent, down 7.8 percentage points from a year earlier. In March, central government revenue even fell by 5.2 per cent year on year, a dip after five months of growth. By contrast, China's public expenditure increased by 12.1 per cent in the first quarter. The growth in spending is outstripping the rise in revenue.

25 Apr 2013 - 3:03am

Ex-wealth fund guru Lou Jiwei to be finance minister

Lou Jiwei. Photo: Bloomberg

Lou, known for his reformist outlook and preference for a market-oriented economy, was a deputy finance minister for 10 years before becoming head of China Investment Corp (CIC), the mainland's sovereign wealth fund, in 2007. His career has now turned a full circle with his appointment as finance minister.

17 Mar 2013 - 7:01am

John Tsang lacks budgetary vision for better education in Hong Kong

US President Barack Obama's state-of-the-union address shows vision. Photo: EPA

For policymakers, the question often arises, should policy dictate budgets or should budgets dictate policy? For natural-born political leaders, the former is axiomatic. For Hong Kong policymakers, the yoke of "keeping the expenditure within the limits of revenue in drawing up its budget, and striving to achieve a fiscal balance, avoid deficits and keep the budget commensurate with the growth rate of its gross domestic product", as dictated in Basic Law article 107, seems too overpowering to allow new thinking.

29 Jan 2014 - 8:14am

Let's stamp out this talk about Hong Kong's narrow tax base

John Tsang Chun-wah, Financial Secretary. Photo: Edward Wong

Once again talk is going round in government circles that Hong Kong's tax base is too narrow. It offends the official mind that fewer than 1.5 million Hongkongers - less than 40 per cent of the city's workforce - contribute to the government's coffers by paying salaries tax.

14 Mar 2013 - 7:47am 1 comment

Enough funds for public housing

The Housing Authority's latest budget shows that it will continue to have sufficient financial resources to implement the public housing construction and other programmes. Photo: Bloomberg

The Housing Authority has a five-year rolling public housing construction programme. This is reviewed and adjusted annually in accordance with the latest demand and supply situation.

13 Mar 2013 - 3:00am

Hong Kong looks abroad to tackle burden of ageing society

Hong Kong is looking overseas for inspiration on how to cope with the long-term financial burden of its rapidly ageing population. Photo: Sam Tsang

Hong Kong is looking overseas for inspiration on how to cope with the long-term financial burden of its rapidly ageing population. In his budget plan last month, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah set up a working group of treasury officials and experts to make public finance projections for the coming decades.

11 Mar 2013 - 11:03am

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

John Tsang Chun-wah. Photo: Edward Wong

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.

11 Mar 2013 - 5:18am

Legislators want Tsang to start spending

Dr. Fung Wai-wah, President of Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union. Photo: Edward Wong

Pan-democrats have launched a petition urging Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah to start spending Hong Kong's HK$1.38 trillion in reserves on tackling social problems.

4 Mar 2013 - 5:08am

Financial Secretary John Tsang defends his budget amid criticism

John Tsang defends his budget yesterday. Photo: Edward Wong

He emphasised the 16 per cent increase in government spending over the next financial year, saying it was rare for a government anywhere to be lifting expenditure.

3 Mar 2013 - 5:14am 4 comments