FS speaks on public consultation on tax reform (with photo)

Following is the transcript of remarks (English portion) by the Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, after attending a radio programme this morning (July 22):

Reporter: How do you respond to Mr Chris Patten's comment yesterday on Goods and Services Tax?

Financial Secretary: First of all, in Mr Chris Patten's first book, "East and West", he said that Hong Kong is a very interesting place where you can increase spending in welfare, cut taxes and have a substantial fiscal surplus. Actually, what he said is against economic principles. So we can see that after he had left, we suffered through Asia Financial Crisis for many years. I don't think any economies, let alone Hong Kong, does not have to follow economic principles. The economic principle is very simple íV that you live within your means. It is important that we take a view on how to stablise government revenue so that our commitment in expenditure can be assured.

Reporter: In a society with universal suffrage, would it be easier for the discussion to be brought up?

Financial Secretary: I have confidence that Hong Kong people knows very well how to run Hong Kong. I would say that Hong Kong actually has learnt a lot in democratic election since 1991. Don't forget that 1991 is the first year where we have directly elected Legislative Council (LegCo) members. Hong Kong people are very smart and we are fully capable of following a fast learning curve in both democracy and the rights and privileges of being a Hong Kong citizen. At the same time, we will also learn very fast that rights come with responsibilities.

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

Ends/Saturday, July 22, 2006
Issued at HKT 12:40