Senior Beijing leaders yesterday sought to inject a dose of confidence into the SAR, despite the bleak deficit forecast and record jobless rate. Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said after an hour-long meeting with Zhu Rongji: 'The Premier was quite confident we are able to overcome our present problem, which he believes to be short-term because he says we have an excellent foundation, excellent heritage and lots of strengths.' Later in the day he also discussed the latest economic figures with Vice-Premier Qian Qichen. He said Mr Qian was similarly confident the problems could be overcome. 'He noted that the unemployment rate was high but he was confident that when the global economy improves, the employment labour situation in Hong Kong would improve correspondingly,' he said. Mr Tsang, the architect of Hong Kong's five post-handover Budget speeches, sidestepped an economist's criticism yesterday that he was largely to blame for the deficit problems. Professor Sung Yan-wing, the head of the Chinese University's economics department, said permanent tax concessions and salary tax cuts announced by Mr Tsang in 1998 had cost the Treasury a total of $56.8 billion in lost revenue by this year. 'He was wrong in launching relief measures in terms of permanent concessions, which have led to the deep troubles in the financial situation today,' he said.