Transcript of remarks by FS at Budget press conference (1) (with photo/video)

    Following is the transcript (English portion) of remarks by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the Budget press conference today (February 27):

Financial Secretary: Ladies and Gentlemen, good afternoon.

    This morning I presented to the Legislative Council the first Budget of this term of the SAR Government.  You will have read about the basic principles I have applied to the management of public finances, as well as the various spending and revenue measures that I have proposed.

    On the backdrop behind me, you can see the words: commitment, sustainability and pragmatism.  These are the guiding principles that I adhered to in drawing up this Budget, a Budget that seeks to combine "consolidation and progress", "respect for tradition while making timely improvements", as well as "caring for the present while developing for the future".  I hope that by working together on this blueprint with the usual Hong Kong spirit, our great city will continue to flourish.

    I would like to mention, in particular, the determination displayed by Hong Kong people during those hard times following the Asian financial crisis.  We stood by one another, endured and overcame considerable difficulties, and emerged stronger.  In the past year, the economy has continued to perform well and we have built up a considerable surplus.  As the manager of these public funds, it is only proper that I return some of this wealth to the people.

    In drafting this Budget, I have been careful to ensure that all strata of the community get some benefits.  I am particularly concerned about those in the lower-income group, and the pressures brought about by inflation.  I have tried to alleviate the difficulties faced by this group as best I can.

    At the moment, Hong Kong is benefiting from strong economic performance.  But our experiences over the past decade have shown that there are many variables that can turn this equation on its head, and quite quickly too.  While I remain cautiously optimistic, we also need to be vigilant.  That is why I have asked everyone in Hong Kong to find the courage needed to face the reality of any challenges that might come our way, while at the same time never to lose sight of their hopes for a brighter future.  Hong Kong is a place where opportunities abound.  The Government will continue to devote the energy and resources needed to create an environment that will help people make their dreams come true.

    I will now take any questions you may have.

(To be continued)

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

Ends/Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Issued at HKT 16:03