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Transcript of remarks by FS at Budget press conference (2)

Reporter:  Financial Secretary, I guess my question like a lot of the questions before it goes to the question of perceived inconsistency and possible inequities in the Budget. Two examples. You cite recurrent expenditure as a reason that you don't want to give old-age allowance increases and CSSA increases, yet at the same time you give tax cuts which definitely have a recurrent impact, so it appears inconsistent on that point. And on the rates, an individual or company that owns who knows how many flats will benefit from the rates, but on the other hand thousands of families that rent will not benefit. They will still, if their lease includes it, be paying those rates through their rents, but you have no pass-through mechanism for people who rent nor do you have any offset against people's income tax which they might be able to take for getting hit to the benefit of someone else and that's also an inequity. So could you address these kinds of questions and whether there's a fundamental unfairness there in your approach.

Financial Secretary:  No, there is no fundamental unfairness in it. What we have done is to identify ways that we could help different people, particularly those people from the lower-income group. And I have also mentioned the reason why we are returning the taxes to our taxpayers. These are the people who in '02-03 during the time when we were hit by the Asian financial crisis as well as by SARS and avian flu and so forth, they have stood by the government, they have been able to bear tax increases at that time. Now that our economy is better, I think it is the right time for us to share our wealth with the people who have stood by us. And it's very difficult to compare the different things, you know, on the one hand, this expenditure, and on the other hand, those revenue measures. It's very difficult to measure those, but what we have tried to do is to address the concerns of the different constituencies and I think we have done that. 

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

Ends/Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Issued at HKT 18:15


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