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

     Following is the transcript of remarks (English portion) by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the press conference on the 2009-10 Budget at Central Government Offices New Annexe today (February 25):

Financial Secretary: Ladies and Gentlemen, Good afternoon.  

     This morning, I presented to the Legislative Council the 2009-10 Budget.  You may already be familiar with the basic principles behind the Budget as well as the measures that I have proposed.  

     What a difference a year makes. Compared to this time last year, the economic conditions in Hong Kong and around the world have changed dramatically. I fully appreciate the challenges that our citizens face and their concerns about the future. On the backdrop behind me, you can see the words: "Confidence, Jobs, Caring and Creating the Future". These are the main goals of this year's Budget.  

     I consider the top priority at the moment is to restore people's confidence.  To achieve this, the Budget proposes a series of measures that will create jobs and stimulate economic growth.  At the same time, we are focused on building a caring community, and improving the quality of life in Hong Kong.

     I am confident that this Budget will help us achieve these goals, and overcome the challenges arising from the global financial turmoil.   

     I will now take your questions.  

Reporter: So far the majority reaction toward the Budget is over-cautious and some even say it lacked a sense of urgency. Why couldn't you have done more to help people during such dire economic times?

Financial Secretary: I think we have done quite a great deal. Last year, with the measures we introduced in the Budget, as well as in July by the Chief Executive, we have brought out more than $57 billion worth of measures which equated to about 3.5% of Hong Kong's GDP. And this year, just the deficit alone is about 2.4% of our GDP. Itˇ¦s quite a lot of measures, and in terms of measures it is much more than the deficit. And we are introducing another $40 billion worth of infrastructure projects, so itˇ¦s a very active programme that will not only create a lot of job opportunities but it will also stimulate the economy, so I think this is quite an effort to push it forward. If you add all those things together I donˇ¦t think it would compare unfavourably with any other of these administrations.

Reporter: In your third paragraph you referred to the need for far-sightedness, courage, strategic thinking and the need to bolster the communityˇ¦s confidence. I wonder what you can point to in this Budget that you feel gives evidence of far-sightedness, courage and strategic thinking, and in what way do you think the community should be bolstered by this Budget which, listening to it, sounded like a long laundry list of spending projects?

Financial Secretary: Well, in this Budget what we have been able to set out is, first of all, our primary task of creating more jobs for the community. That is really important because at this time we see the unemployment rate going up, and the immediate issue we need to deal with is to provide gainful employment, occupation, for the people concerned. I also dedicated quite a bit of space in the Budget to talk about some of the economic directions that we need to go into, and we also talked a bit about how we should help the people who are in need. So I think, putting all of that together, hopefully we will be able to point the direction for the community to follow.

Reporter: Where's the far-sightedness and the courage?

Financial Secretary: It's in there. You should take a look at all the economic sections.

Reporter: Which sections do you feel? I am asking you to point to sections you feel.

Financial Secretary: I think you should spend some time and read it before you ask the question.

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

Ends/Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Issued at HKT 18:39


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