Public Finance

Briefs, March 3, 2013

Moscow protesters urge end of foreign adoptions. Photo: Reuters

Britain's Queen Elizabeth is recovering after coming down with a stomach bug that forced the cancellation of a royal engagement. The 86-year-old monarch yesterday cancelled a visit to Swansea, Wales. 

Sunday, 3 March, 2013, 6:30am

So, how well did John Tsang listen?

The greatest failure of John Tsang's budget is his inability to map out a strategic vision for Hong Kong's long-term economic development. Photo: Edward Wong

Tsang cannot be faulted for trying hard to plough back no less than HK$33 billion of the anticipated fiscal surplus of over HK$64 billion to those identified by the government as being most in need. 

4 Mar 2013 - 12:57am 2 comments

John Tsang again delivers overly cautious budget

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah. Photo: Dickson Lee

Delivering a budget with new thinking has proved to be a challenge for John Tsang Chun-wah. While the veteran finance chief managed to provide some short-term relief for the needy without losing sight of the need to invest for a better future, his first budget after his reappointment remains overly cautious. With a record HK$734 billion reserves in hand, he could have taken bolder steps to tackle the challenges ahead.

28 Feb 2013 - 3:37am

At last Tsang accepts that our fiscal policy needs an overhaul

At last Tsang accepts that our fiscal policy needs an overhaul

At least some of the criticism directed at John Tsang Chun-wah recently must have stung. In his budget speech yesterday, the financial secretary attempted to defend his piecemeal approach to fiscal policy while simultaneously promising to set up a working group to formulate "more comprehensive planning for our public finances".

28 Feb 2013 - 5:02am 1 comment

Beijing wise to keep its central banker

Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China. Photo: Bloomberg

News that central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan will stay in his post despite reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65 should be welcomed in China and overseas. It would be hard to name another mainland economic official who could match his experience in monetary affairs or enjoy the respect he has from the international financial community.

27 Feb 2013 - 5:29am

Budget must watch out for Hong Kong's middle class

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah will unveil another budget next Wednesday. Photo: May Tse

We have become a pear-shaped society, with a swollen lower class and a shrinking middle class, the former trapped by impotent rage and the latter resigned to their fate in which the Hong Kong dream is receding from their reach.

20 Feb 2013 - 4:12am 7 comments

Budget promises bounty, but relief measures likely smaller

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah. Photo: May Tse

Relief measures, including the waiver of property rates and public housing rents, as well as a tax rebate, are expected to be unveiled by Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah in the current administration's first - and his sixth - budget next Wednesday.

18 Feb 2013 - 8:24am 9 comments

Hong Kong political, charity groups urge using budget surplus on poor

About 200 members of the Society for Community Organisation marched from Southorn Playground in Wan Chai to the government's offices in Admiralty yesterday, joining others urging the government to use its estimated HK$60 billion budget surplus tohelp the poor. Photo: Nora Tam

Financial Secretary John Tsang had forecast a HK$3.4 billion deficit for the fiscal year, but revenue from land sales and stamp duties resulted in a HK$40 billion surplus in just the first three quarters. Political and charity groups urge Tsang to use the huge surplus to help lift the city's most vulnerable out of poverty.

18 Feb 2013 - 4:34am 3 comments

Obama needs to find consensus in second term

US President Barack Obama. Photo: AP

A second-term US president's first state-of-the-union address after re-election is traditionally a rallying cry to unite the country behind a common goal and build a legacy on the foundations of the first term. President Barack Obama cited the clearing of the "rubble" of [financial] crisis as the foundation for a wider agenda that fleshed out the populist themes of his inauguration address. The item that people everywhere will empathise with, after the horror of a massacre of small schoolchildren, is the reform of gun controls. The one that matters to the world economy, however, is how to deal with a budget deficit and national debt without threatening growth and recovery.

14 Feb 2013 - 1:29am

Hong Kong should revamp muddled fiscal structure

John Tsang Chun-wah, Financial Secretary. Photo: May Tse

The huge budget surpluses that Hong Kong regularly clocks up are a wonder to governments elsewhere. While they struggle to balance their books, our coffers are positively bulging, and increasingly so each year. Such abundance is a welcome cushion for an economy so exposed to outside market forces. But the way it is generated, the manner in which it is managed and how it is dispersed are an embarrassment and a shame. A financial system that is strait-jacketing our future has to be reformed.

14 Feb 2013 - 1:30am

Land sales and stamp duty push up city's revenue

John Tsang Chun-Wah, Hong Kong's financial secretary. Photo: Bloomberg

On his blog yesterday, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said he was always being asked by friends whether he intentionally underestimated revenue to restrict growth in government expenditure.

7 May 2015 - 12:48pm 1 comment

PwC pushes for tax breaks, relief measures in Hong Kong budget

PricewaterhouseCoopers forecasts a HK$28.7b surplus and urges the government to offer more tax concessions and relief measures in the budget. Photo: Reuters

A top accounting firm urged the government to offer more tax concessions and relief measures in the budget as it forecast a surplus of up to HK$28.7 billion in the current financial year, thanks to a windfall from land sales.

9 Jan 2013 - 5:17am 1 comment

China Digest, January 7, 2013

The embezzlement trial of the former deputy general manager of a state-owned military contractor has begun at Beijing's No 1 Intermediate People's Court, the Beijing Times reports.

7 Jan 2013 - 6:28am

China Digest, January 4, 2013

A 12-year-old boy has been detained after stealing a police car and crashing it into a BMW in downtown Chuzhou on Tuesday, reports.

4 Jan 2013 - 4:29am

Finance chief John Tsang warns against ignoring Hong Kong's pillar industries

Financial Secretary John Tsang

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah warned yesterday against "blindly" pursuing new industries to drive growth, suggesting "conventional economic pillars have their edge".

On his official blog, Tsang also said taxes may rise or more government bonds could be issued if the administration fails to keep its budget in the black.

31 Dec 2012 - 4:58am 2 comments