Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-Kuen has dismissed the likelihood of double-digit economic growth this year, estimating instead 'slightly better than 6 per cent'. Last week, he raised hopes by suggesting strong growth in exports would translate into a 'significant improvement' on his earlier estimate of 6 per cent full-year growth. But during a radio programme in Australia yesterday, Mr Tsang answered, 'no, no, no' when asked whether he was expecting double-digit growth in the coming year. 'Double-digit growth is a freak signal,' he said. 'We are a mature economy. The 14.3 per cent growth we registered in the first quarter of this year, I do not think it is repeatable in the quarters ahead. I would say [for] the year as a whole, we would be doing slightly better than 6 per cent.' Growth would continue to be driven by trade and a rebound in tourism. He noted, however, that unemployment remained slightly higher than usual and property prices would be slow to return to their pre-crisis levels. 'We are pretty confident in saying the system we have now is far more robust and far more resilient than the one we had before the crisis. We have successfully leveraged the crisis to undertake some fundamental reforms.' Hong Kong was emerging with a much stronger technology sector. The present shake-out was not worrisome, he said, describing volatility in the prices of high-technology shares as 'a good thing . . . an occasional health check on the way in which the stock markets are going'. Lay-offs at Tom.com did not worry him. 'Tom.com is a small company. There are companies which open up every day. There are companies which are closing down, going belly up, every day. This is the name of the game in Hong Kong.' The global economy was entering a stable period of low inflation, he said, during which highly leveraged financial institutions, such as hedge funds, would retreat into hibernation. That would give the world's central bankers a period of relative peace in which to reach a consensus on how to handle short-term capital flows.