Ten community groups yesterday joined forces to criticise the budget, saying Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah lacked a long-term commitment to help the poor. But Mr Tsang said his speech, delivered at the end of last month, had been well received by the public. In a joint statement, the Civil Human Rights Front and allied groups for the underprivileged accused Mr Tsang of pandering to the interests of the rich and powerful. The groups said 'goodies' for businesses and the well-off amounted to nearly HK$22 billion but measures to help grass-roots people cost only HK$5.67 billion. They said the electricity subsidy of HK$1,800 for each household and the HK$6,000 injection into the Mandatory Provident Fund accounts of those earning less than HK$10,000 a month would benefit power companies and fund managers. 'On the surface, the budget is sharing wealth with the people. But it's actually playing with figures,' the groups said in the statement. They called for a universal retirement protection scheme and long-term measures from the financial secretary to help the poor. Defending his speech on RTHK's Letter to Hong Kong, Mr Tsang said his budget had followed the principle of sustainability, pragmatism and commitment to society. 'I'm pleased to see that the budget, so far, has been quite well received,' he said. 'We are already keeping a keen eye on the impact of rising global prices as well as a likely slowdown in the world economy. What we must try to do is use our financial resources to plan ahead so that we can better absorb the effects of any sudden shock. 'We have been able to strike a good balance between spending and saving, meeting long-term objectives and achieving short-term goals, and caring for the needy while ensuring greater opportunities for the next generation,' he said.