Public doubts officials' financial skills, survey shows The public consultation on the introduction of a goods and services tax has lowered Hong Kong people's confidence in the government, a political group said as it announced findings from its regular opinion poll. The New Forum interviewed 1,408 people last month and this month, and found respondents least confident about the government's ability to handle economic matters and fair competition. Respondents were asked to assign a score of one to seven for the government's performance in five areas. A score of four is considered satisfactory. They were most confident about the government's ability to maintain human rights (which scored 4.41), governance and livelihood policies (though both scored below four), followed by its work on constitutional development. They gave a score of only 3.36 for the government's performance on economics and maintaining fair competition. Its work in this area drew the third-best score in the same survey in May. The main reason for the government doing worse in this field was a significant drop in confidence in its ability to implement a fair tax system for all, maintain fair competition (where it scored 3.14, down from 3.25 in May) and prevent big firms monopolising the market. The group believes the findings show the public has less confidence in the government's ability to managing the public finances because of the consultation on the introduction of a GST. It encouraged the government to provide more data to support the introduction of such a tax. The survey findings were released yesterday before Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen attended the second of four closed-door district forums on the GST in Sham Shui Po last night. He said afterwards that most of the participants in yesterday's forum and the seminar on Thursday agreed there was a need to broaden the tax base.