The government should be prepared to go all out to tackle the widening economic crisis, even if it means breaking some rules, Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce chairman Andrew Brandler said. 'The government should be ready to throw moral hazard out the window - throw some of these principles out the window - on a short-term basis [to maintain market confidence and stability],' Mr Brandler said without elaborating. 'In extraordinary times, the government should not feel shy taking extraordinary measures.' Warning of fiscal deficits amid a shrinking tax base and greater unemployment, Mr Brandler said there was an urgent need for the government to shore up increasingly fragile investor confidence. The chamber expected a global recession next year that might last for a few years, he said, although Hong Kong's financial system remained in good shape. 'You don't want to take risks with what is fundamentally a sound system right now,' he said. Mr Brandler called on the government to act 'quickly and boldly' to boost confidence by 'substantially' raising the HK$100,000 cap on bank deposit insurance. Such a measure would not be permanent, but could be implemented for six to 12 months to help tide jittery investors over until the economic outlook improved. He also supported the use of taxpayers' money to underwrite soured Lehman Brothers minibonds if it helped 'get a deal done' between banks and angry investors. 'You don't want to have people queuing up, demonstrating outside Legco, demonstrating outside banks, saying I want my money back because of these minibonds. You want to get that issue cleared up quickly,' he said. 'We face a once-in-a-lifetime financial turmoil. Let's not take any risks with that, even if it means the government breaking a few principles and digging into its pockets to maintain stability. It's a small price to pay.' Mr Brandler also urged the government to do everything possible to preserve the financial health of the city's small and medium-sized businesses. Nervous banks were less willing to lend to companies in an economic downturn for fear of being unable to recover their money if businesses failed. This choked off funds to companies, which relied on credit. Despite a pledge by the government to use the city's US$160-billion war chest of foreign currency reserves, if necessary, to help deal with the crisis, resources were limited. A large civil service and weak corporate earnings would exacerbate pressure on government finances, which depended mainly on profits and salaries taxes as well as property sales. The chamber had been disappointed at a lack of government commitment to explore ways to broaden the tax base, including the introduction of a goods and services tax, but Mr Brandler said now was not the time to broach the issue again.