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FS' transcript


The following is the transcript of the Financial Secretary, Mr Antony Leung, speaking to the press after the Policy Address at the Legislative Council today (January 8):

Mr Leung: Good afternoon, the Chief Executive has just announced his first Policy Address in his second term. We believe that the positioning of the economy as outlined by the Chief Executive is a correct one with the measures being pragmatic and reasonable. I hope that all of you can support the direction as outlined by the Chief Executive. The economic positioning is really based on the existing strengths of the Hong Kong economy as well as the opportunities afforded to us by a growing Mainland. We emphasise the role "moving towards higher value" particularly the sectors that we have strengths including financial services, logistics, tourism, professional and producer services, and we are also aiming to create jobs because of the growth of these sectors.

We are also emphasising the need to work closely with the Mainland so we can maximise the opportunities that are accorded to us and the Chief Executive has outlined quite a number of measures that allows Hong Kong to capitalise on the opportunities arising from the growth in the Mainland.

The Chief Executive has also committed to continue investing in education as well as attracting more talents and professionals to Hong Kong. As you know, improving the Government resources situation in Hong Kong is key in moving towards a knowledge-based economy.

Lastly, the Chief Executive has outlined the need to improve the business environment further. In short, we want a larger market and a smaller Government.

In tackling the budget deficit, one would hope that we can take this as an opportunity to re-engineer the processes of the Government, re-organise the Government as well as re-prioritise the work that we are doing so that we can improve the business environment further. Now as far as the budget deficit is concerned, the Chief Executive has outlined the measures. Broadly they are; firstly, to re-vitalise the economy; secondly, cut expenditure; thirdly, raise revenue appropriately. He has outlined the measures on how to control and reduce the Government expenditure. As far as the revenue measures are concerned, we will continue to listen to the views of the public and I will tell you in more concrete terms in March when I read the Budget Speech.

I hope that the citizens will have confidence in the Government because through the works of the Government we have already seen quite some improvements in the economy particularly in the export sectors, including the export of goods and the export of services. We are also seeing that the slow-down in local consumption is somehow decelerating, meaning we believe that going forward, the confidence in the local economy and therefore the local consumption will continue to improve. And so with a very clear direction outlined by the Chief Executive, with very appropriate measures, we are confident that over a period of time that the economy will be re-vitalised and the budget deficit will be addressed.

Reporter: Mr Leung, do you not think that the man in the street is not going to welcome this address bearing in mind that there has already been a warning sound that fees and charges are going to go up and that there is a likelihood that more is to come?

Mr Leung: I believe the citizens in Hong Kong are reasonable. Reasonable in the sense that they are all talking about the size of the budget deficit has to be controlled because Hong Kong people being so economically well-tuned, they know that if the budget deficit is not addressed, it is going to affect their livelihood through a deterioration of the investment confidence, or the confidence of the investors in Hong Kong as well as monetary crisis. So I believe that, at least reading the media reports which I believe partly reflects the public's opinion, the general public in a way is willing to share the burden to resolve the budget deficit problem.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

End/Wednesday, January 8, 2003


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