Pricey wine

THE footnotes to a picture of Sir Hamish Macleod taken on the day he delivered the Budget speech in the South China Morning Post stated that our Financial Secretary is a light drinker.

I have every reason to trust the accuracy of the statement given that he, again, aimed his shot this year at wine lovers by dramatically increasing the tax on wine.

To levy any kind of tax on wine is already unacceptable and to charge a 90 per cent Value Added Tax on wine is a shock by any standards.

To quote an example, a bottle of wine that sells in the UK for HK$100 would retail at $140 pre-Budget, based on the pre-Budget tax formula and this wine is now going to cost at least $200 post-Budget.

If that same bottle of wine is being ordered in restaurants which normally charge a 200 per cent mark up, the price of the wine would increase from $420 to $600.

The impact of this will be that an overseas businessman coming to Hong Kong on a business trip, will on his first night out, understand why people call Hong Kong an expensive place in which to do business, when, while entertaining business partners, he orders some wine.

Tourists will, from the moment they look at a restaurant wine list, call Hong Kong a rip-off destination. And local people will know what is meant by the Government fuelling inflation when they buy wine from retailers.

All wine lovers in the territory should protest against the increase in tax on wine and challenge Legislators to put forward a motion to abolish the tax on wine altogether.

LEWIS CHUNG Causeway Bay