Government expenditure is unlikely to show real growth in the wake of the negative GDP figure announced yesterday, according to a legislator. Dr Yeung Sum, vice-chairman of the Democratic Party, said the figure of minus 2.8 per cent for the first quarter justified his party's call for the Government to abandon its principle of keeping expenditure in line with the growth rate. Senior officials have indicated there will be real growth in expenditure in the 1999-2000 Budget even though GDP growth might only be one or two per cent. Yesterday, Chief Government Economist Tang Kwong-yiu said the second-quarter growth figure could well be worse than the first-quarter figure. Dr Yeung said: 'Judging from the latest figures, it seems likely that economic growth next year will be much lower . . . the room for new resources will be very, very limited. 'That's why we always maintain the Government should not blindly follow the rules, but allow deficit budget for an exceptional year in order to meet the rising expectations of the community for livelihood improvement.' He said yesterday's GDP figures had been widely expected, but was adamant the Government could still do something about it. Dr Yeung said the Government should reconsider his party's proposal to return part of the salary and profits tax payment received for the 1996-97 year to taxpayers. Application procedures for the total $2.5 billion loan for small and medium-sized enterprises should be simplified and approval be speeded up to give early help to cash-strapped firms, he said. Gary Cheng Kai-nam, a legislator from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, agreed the worst was yet to come but conceded there was not much the Government could do. 'It may be true to say that we can simply let the economy slip so that it will reach its bottom quickly. 'After all, there will be a bottom. 'And when we reach that point, we will be able to start picking up.'