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Transcript of remarks by FS on GST

    Following is the transcript (English portion) of the Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, speaking to the media after addressing the Business and Professionals Federation of Hong Kong's seminar, "Why Hong Kong should broaden its tax base", today (September 8):

Reporter: Mr Tang, you've made an appeal for the public to have a rational discussion on GST. Do you think that at this moment people are getting too caught up in the details and that maybe they're misinformed or uninformed about the benefits of a GST? And does that frustrate you personally?

FS: That's why I posed the three questions and I said the three questions should be considered together and people who are supportive of it or people who are going to discuss it, should have a thorough discussion and consideration of all three questions together. So I believe some of the opposition today is based on question number three, which is, 'If GST is the best way to broaden our tax base in order to deal with some of the longer-term problems, then whether there should be exemptions or whether some lower-income families should have more compensation?' These are some of the issues that we should be considering and I'm happy to discuss them.

Reporter: .. you don't have a long-term plan, like you're waiting for this update to go through before you have a long-term plan.........

FS: The basis of a consultation is that the Government should not make up its mind and launch a consultation just for selling a policy. I think the general policy should be that Government proposes this consultation because we envisage that there are many long-term issues that we need to deal with and this is a time, - a suitable and appropriate time - to consider and discuss some of these wide-ranging and very serious issues that will put pressure on our public finances in the future.

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

Ends/Friday, September 8, 2006
Issued at HKT 15:54