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FS'transcript (with photos)

Following is the transcript of remarks (English portion) by the Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, after attending a Metro Radio programme this morning (January 6):

Reporter: What is your expectation for the economic growth next year and also, do you think the Government will achieve fiscal balance earlier than expected?

FS: Regarding our forecast for next yearˇ¦s economic growth, I will announce that in the Budget on February 22nd. As far as our target for achieving fiscal balance, it is a fact that government revenue is in direct correlation with GDP growth. So with a better-than-expected GDP growth, it is logical to expect that our revenue will increase alongside. So the circumstances are favourable that we may be able to announce better-than-expected results.

Reporter: Is there room for a tax reduction and are you going to launch a consultation on sales tax?

FS: It is incumbent upon Government to strike a right balance, we want to strike a balance that we will share the results of our collective efforts in achieving this better-than-expected economic growth. This economic growth is not just the effort of Government, but rather the collective effort of everyone in Hong Kong. And because everyone has contributed in the past few years to achieve this recovery, I think it is incumbent on us that if we have the room for it, if we have the conditions for it, then we will always try to strike that balance and share the benefits of the recovery.

Reporter: And the consultation on GST?

FS: As for the consultation on a goods and services tax, I know this is a very controversial subject and I guarantee that Government will not introduce a new tax without a thorough consultation and without giving the public plenty of time to express their views.

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

Ends/Friday, January 6, 2006
Issued at HKT 11:05


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