No spending cheer these New Year holidays

Fox Yi Hu

Most Hongkongers do not plan to spend any more this Lunar New Year than last despite the strong economic growth over the past year - a sign the masses have yet to benefit from the recovery.

About 31 per cent of poll respondents said they would spend less than last year, while 52 per cent said their budget would be similar. Only 16.7 per cent said they would spend more.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong interviewed 1,452 adults by telephone last month on their Lunar New Year plans.

Respondents are also not planning to be overly generous in handing out lai see, with just more than half saying the largest amount they would give would be HK$50. About 32 per cent would give a maximum of HK$100 and 16 per cent would give more.

The survey also found that 18 per cent of respondents planned to give out less lai see than last year, while 62.7 per cent said they would give out a similar amount.

'We can see that the citizens are not very keen to spend - probably because the economic recovery has not benefited the masses,' said legislator Chan Kam-lam of the DAB.

Mr Chan said the government should announce favourable tax concessions ahead of the budget scheduled for February 28.

'The DAB believes the government's fiscal surplus will be much greater than expected,' he said. 'It can preannounce some budget measures for returning wealth to the people - to encourage spending and give them a happy Lunar New Year.'

About 20 per cent of poll respondents believed the yuan appreciation would have a significant impact on their Lunar New Year spending on the mainland. But 33.3 per cent believed there would be no impact.

The survey also found 52 per cent of respondents were in favour of lifting the fireworks ban in certain controlled zones, with 36 per cent supporting the ban.