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Community views welcome on tax reform proposals

    In response to media enquiries, a Government spokesman said today (August 6) that the Government welcomed community views on tax reform and proposals in its consultation document.

     The spokesman said that in particular, views were sought on the proposed goods and services tax (GST), related household compensation package and other tax and relief measures during the consultation period of about nine months.

     "The proposals put forward in the consultation document are not meant to be conclusive, but are intended to stimulate rational and informed discussion on this subject. We welcome views from the community on the proposed framework during the consultation period," he said.

     "Being a modern international city at the forefront of international competitiveness, Hong Kong must be vigilant and cannot afford to stand still while its competitiveness is eroded. We must make good use of the respite provided by the economic recovery to act now so that our public finances will be better able to withstand future economic and social challenges.

     "We must act now to broaden our tax base for the future prosperity of Hong Kong. This will ultimately affect each Hong Kong resident individually."

     While noting that the Government was aware of community concerns about the proposed introduction of a GST in Hong Kong, the spokesman said, "As a responsible Government, we believe it is our duty to engage the public in a discussion about this important issue."

     He added that as the present economic circumstances were positive, Hong Kong had an opportunity to think clearly about the issue through the consultation process. "We do not need to rush into a decision and can take our time to consult, consider and plan the best approach to reform our tax base and manage our public finances.

     "As the introduction of tax reform would have implications for the entire community, we will move forward cautiously," he said.

     "We will carefully listen to the views of the community before making a recommendation to the Government of the next term on how to proceed."

Ends/Sunday, August 6, 2006
Issued at HKT 11:35