Legislators shrugged aside complaints of too little for the elderly and poor yesterday to overwhelmingly vote into law Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's first Budget as Financial Secretary. Declaring that it was a budget for the people of Hong Kong, not the business people of Hong Kong, Mr Tsang was delighted as Legco responded with a 52-2 vote in favour of the 1996/97 financial blueprint. The dissenting voices came from independent unionists Lee Cheuk-yan and Leung Yiu-chung who blasted the Budget for failing to help society's underdogs and ease unemployment. Mr Tsang was gratified by the clear support for the bill, saying it was important Legco had followed public opinion. But he emphasised the importance of maintaining tight control over government spending, disagreeing with some demands within Legco that he should boost the economy by expanding public expenditure. 'We must not allow government spending to grow disproportionately and, as a result, deprive the private sector of the resources required to fuel our economic growth,' he told members. 'To do so would put at risk our future growth prospects.' Mr Tsang also rejected calls to draw on Hong Kong's huge fiscal reserves. Several years of budget surpluses have boosted Hong Kong's reserves to more than $150 billion, but Mr Tsang claimed it was a dangerous time to reduce the cushion the funds provided when they were fundamental to the stability of the territory's financial system. 'Maintaining confidence, both locally and internationally, in the soundness of our financial system is of paramount importance in the remaining months before the birth of the Special Administrative Region government,' he said. Answering claims that the Government was surrendering fiscal autonomy by inviting China to help draft next year's budget, Mr Tsang emphasised the uniqueness of the situation. 'In the unique case of the 1997-98 budget, clearly we need to co-operate with the Chinese side in order to achieve a full 12-month budget which will cover the normal budgetary cycle from 1 April, 1997 to 31 March, 1998,' he said. Drafting a budget that straddled the handover so that it was acceptable to both China and Hong Kong was of paramount importance to a smooth transition of power and Hong Kong's long-term prosperity. By listening to Legco members, sticking to budgetary guidelines and working with China, it was possible to come up with a 'through budget' acceptable to all, he said.