More money, tax concessions and bigger rebates: a wish list for Hong Kong’s budget
The South China Morning Post speaks with several Hongkongers about what they want from the budget on Wednesday
Hong Kong’s annual budget will be unveiled by new Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po on Wednesday.
The budget is expected to outline relief measures to help boost the economy, improve livelihoods and benefit different commercial sectors through the likes of one-off cash handouts and waivers for small and medium-sized enterprises.
So what relief measures do Hongkongers at all levels of society have on their wish list this year?
MORE RESOURCES TO HIRE TEACHERS
Jessie Cheung Chok-fong, 42, primary school principal
Cheung hopes the government can provide more resources to schools for staffing so teachers have more time to attend to their students’ well-being, as well as be more effective in “screening” for students who have mental issues.
“In my school, we can only afford 1.5 teachers for a class of 25 students, and these teachers have to teach from 8am to 3pm, with a break of only 80 minutes in between,” she said.
MORE TAX REDUCTIONS FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS
Bergman Li Chak-lam, 40, property management maintenance officer
Having two residential properties and a car might sound like a dream for many in Hong Kong, but Li and his wife hope more can be done for the “sandwich class” in Hong Kong.
The two working parents have a household income of around HK$40,000 plus the rent they receive from one of the flats, but they have expenses for two young children, the mortgage for the two flats, their car and a domestic helper.
“I hope the government can maintain the salaries tax reduction [of 75 per cent] this year, provide more tax reductions for those with children and give more concessions on rates,” he said.
A TWO-TIER CORPORATE TAX SYSTEM
Shirley Yuen, CEO, Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce
Hong Kong’s most prominent business body is proposing that the standard rate of profits tax be reduced from 16.5 per cent to 15 per cent, with the first HK$ 2 million of taxable profits being taxed at 10 per cent.
“Instead of discretionary, ad hoc rebates, [the chamber] strongly advocates a sustained, recurring approach to stimulate economic growth ... [and] provide certainty and clarity to businesses. [Our proposal] would be simple to administer and non-discriminatory, [as] the rates would apply to all businesses – although it would be especially helpful to SMEs with taxable profits of less than HK$2 million.”
BIGGER REBATES FOR GOING GREEN
Law Mang-hing, CEO, Sun Fat Heung Food Products
Having taken over the family tofu business in Yuen Long 20 years ago, Law is always thinking of ways to innovate it. This year he will invest HK$1.5 million as part of a quality food traceability scheme, which will provide customers with more information about the production line. He has applied for money under the government’s technology voucher programme.
“Even if the application is successful, I get a cap of HK$300,000. Another problem is half of my fleet of 20 trucks have to be phased out by next year due to stricter regulations on diesel vehicles. For me to purchase so many new trucks in one go is quite a burden. I hope the government can provide subsidies for smaller businesses like ours.”
A LIVING ALLOWANCE FOR THE WORKING POOR
Yan Nga-chi, 32, subdivided flat resident
The single mother lives with her daughter and her mother in a 200 sq ft subdivided flat. She works 70 hours a week on two jobs and is the sole breadwinner of the family. She hopes the government can reintroduce a one-off living allowance, which was scrapped, for a group dubbed “N-nothings” – low-income families who do not live in public housing and do not receive any government assistance.
“If I don’t work two jobs, how am I able to put food on the table for my daughter and my mother? I’m barely able to save anything after paying the rent and my daughter’s tuition fees. With the government’s help, it would be great to be able to live a little easier.”
FUNDS FOR ELDERLY COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES
Chan Sing-moon, 71, retiree
Chan is a member of the Hong Kong Association of Senior Citizens. He is involved in outreach programmes for the elderly and participates in hobby classes with other senior citizens.
“In previous years, the government has done a good job in giving senior citizens direct help by increasing funds for the Old Age Allowance and Old Age Living Allowance. But we don’t want to create a situation where the elderly will only wait for money to drop into their lap. The resources should be given to NGOs to organise community activities for the elderly in all 18 districts.”