THE majority of Hongkong people have thrown their support behind Financial Secretary Hamish Macleod's giveaway Budget, but feel that not enough is being done to tackle inflation. In the first public opinion poll since his speech to the Legislative Council on Wednesday, nearly half the 577 respondents were happy with the new level of salaries tax allowances and half viewed with equanimity the prospect of a budget deficit for the coming year. Last night, Financial Secretary Mr Hamish Macleod gave a cautious welcome to the results of the poll conducted exclusively for the South China Morning Post, although the findings put public acceptance far higher than anything he could have imagined afterlast year's Budget. ''It's quite good, but I think we can get it better,'' he said in response to figures which showed two thirds of Hongkong people were satisfied with his Budget. However, two thirds of respondents felt he should have done more to control inflation, 35 per cent felt the basic tax allowance of $56,000 for a single person was not enough, and 30 per cent were worried the deficit could turn out to be a burden on Hongkong's economy in the future. The survey was conducted by the University of Hongkong's Social Sciences Research Centre (SSRC). Twenty-seven per cent felt they would be better off as a result of Mr Macleod's proposals. Although half the respondents felt the Budget would not affect their livelihood substantially either way, few respondents thought it would leave them worse off. By far the majority - 64 per cent - felt the Budget had made no difference to their confidence in the future of Hongkong. On the size of the reserves, more than 35 per cent confessed they had no idea whether $78 billion was the right amount to be leaving in the kitty for the Special Administrative Region in 1997. However, a further 38.2 per cent thought it was just enough while 18.7 per cent thought it was too generous. Only 7.7 per cent thought it was too little, prompting SSRC research officer Mr Robert Chung Ting-yiu to comment that it would be unwise for pro-China groups in Hongkong to ask for more. Mr Macleod said he believed he had been making some progress since the survey was taken in explaining that the budget was not very inflationary and that the deficit was not dangerous. He said he had kept recurrent spending down to within the expected level of economic growth, and believed Hongkong would rather not face the recession and unemployment experienced by countries that had put fighting inflation as their key objective. The extra money in people's pockets - if it did not go into savings - would largely go on imported goods which were not inflationary. He also repeated that whatever the Government did in its Budget would have relatively little effect on inflation because government spending accounted for less than 20 per cent of Gross Domestic Product, compared with much higher proportions elsewhere. Pointing out that the only way for the Government to draw on its reserves was to run a deficit Budget, he said: ''If people are saying we should never run deficits, they are saying an extraordinary thing.'' He said the salaries tax allowance of $70,000 demanded by the United Democrats would cost double the $17 billion his own proposals were forecast to cost over the next four years. ''Those people [who are dissatisfied with the allowance] are optimists,'' he said. ''Their expectations have been raised beyond what was ever likely or possible.'' UDHK spokesman on economics Dr Huang Chen-ya said, however, that the Government should try harder on inflation. It still had no long-term strategy for keeping property prices down and its plan to import labour was the wrong approach to curbing inflation in the service sector. He also attacked Mr Macleod's arguments on the cost of raising tax thresholds. ''He's talking about revenue losses. We're talking about what people need to live on,'' said Dr Huang. The Co-operative Resources Centre's spokesman, Mr Ronald Arculli, said he agreed with the respondents who were concerned about the level of inflation. He called for increases in charges and duties below the rate of inflation.