A controversial sales tax proposal should be delayed, experts said yesterday. But a three per cent levy should be affordable when the economy improved, the director of Lingnan University's Centre for Public Policy Studies, Ho Lok-sang, said. Officials have left open the possibility of introducing a sales tax amid fears the Government might continue to spend more than it is actually raising. At the weekly RTHK City Forum, Professor Ho said consumers could afford a three per cent sales tax. 'If the tax base is broadened, the rates on other taxes can be reduced,' he said. He suggested a rebate of $3,600 for a low-income family of four each year to reduce the tax's impact on the poor and cut administrative costs. Non-affiliated legislator Eric Li Ka-cheung, said a sales tax could broaden the tax base and ease the burden on the middle class. He warned that revenue from land sales and property, which accounted for half of the annual $200 billion government spending, had been falling. 'The question is how to even out the tax burden,' he said. Mr Li said the controversial sales tax proposal would have a slim chance of being introduced in the financial year beginning in April. Legislator Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, who represents the wholesale and retail industry, said she had grave reservations. 'A sales tax could deal a heavy blow to the recovering economy and the tourism trade,' she said. Taxation Institute vice-president Chiu Sin-koi said the percentage of the proposed tax must be low. 'The levy should target those with high consumption power, like the rich tai tais who could spend $100,000 or $80,000 each day,' he said. But sales tax should only be considered when the economy improved.