Following is the full text of the Speech on the 2011-12 Budget delivered by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, in the Legislative Council today (February 23):
I move that the Appropriation Bill 2011 be read a second time.
2. This is my fourth Budget. In the past three years, we have been fighting back against the financial tsunami. We have striven to gain a foothold in the rapidly changing global economic landscape by dealing with the various problems triggered by the crisis on the one hand, and seizing new opportunities for development on the other. Today, our economy has fully recovered. The employment situation has shown continuous improvement, and our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has exceeded the peak before the financial tsunami.
3. The lessons learned from this once-in-a-century financial tsunami help shed light on how to position ourselves and make better preparations for future challenges and opportunities. I will sum them up in four respects.
4. First, the shifting of global economic gravity from the West to the East has become more evident. During the financial tsunami, the sustained rapid economic growth of the Mainland brought in fresh opportunities, boosting our economic recovery. The accelerating trade and economic integration in the region also presents enormous opportunities for Hong Kong.
5. Second, adopting appropriate policies is vital to countering crises. Since 2008, we have introduced five rounds of fiscal stimulus measures, which are worth $110 billion and equivalent to 6.6 per cent of our GDP. These measures have stabilised the employment market, boosted consumer confidence and fostered economic recovery. Our fiscal reserves have provided us with strong support for handling financial crises and created favourable conditions for economic development.
6. Third, perseverance and confidence are crucial to overcoming crises and solving problems. During the financial tsunami, the people of Hong Kong demonstrated flexibility and tenacity in the face of difficulties, turning crises into opportunities. Hong Kong is a people-oriented city. It was the interests of the people that we had in mind when we responded to the crises by implementing the strategy of "stabilising the financial system, supporting enterprises and preserving employment". Our focus was on maintaining social and economic stability by supporting employment.
7. The role of the Government is, through various policies, to create a favourable environment to empower people to realise their potential and pursue their dreams and happiness. By developing the economy, we help people create wealth and enhance their competitiveness in the face of socio-economic changes. By developing education, people are given means for self-improvement and upward mobility. By introducing relief measures, people in need are helped to tide over immediate difficulties. Looking ahead, we will endeavour to create better economic conditions and open up more opportunities in society, thereby enabling everyone to share the fruits of economic growth.
8. Fourth, the market and the community should have a more varied relationship. Between the "big market" and the "small government", we have a dynamic "big society". We should make good use of our abundant social capital, encourage further cross-sector collaboration, and unite the efforts of our people to work for the common cause of Hong Kong's social and economic development.
9. There are still many challenges ahead. The Government will make continuous efforts to promote the economic development of Hong Kong, build a cohesive community and improve people's livelihood through proper allocation and effective management of public resources.
(To be continued)
Ends/Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Issued at HKT 11:10