Budget Speech by the Financial Secretary (16)

Concluding Remarks

184. Mr President, the socio-economic situation facing us is so distinctive that it has little resemblance to what we have seen before.  The new economic landscape has provided welcome opportunities for many sectors and people in Hong Kong.  However, the unusual external environment has given rise to inflationary pressure and increased the risk of asset-price bubbles, adding to the burden on our citizens.  In such exceptional circumstances, it is only natural that some people feel worried about the increasingly heavy burden they have to bear or the difficulty in clinching a place in the new economic contest.  They may even be anxious about their development prospects for the future.

185. In view of this year¡¦s socio-economic conditions, I propose in this Budget to increase our spending on areas related to people¡¦s livelihood, such as education, health and social welfare.  We also seek to alleviate the inflationary pressure felt by our people, reduce the risk of asset-price bubbles, and use public resources to invest in the future.

186. People come first in all our policies.  No matter how our economy fares, we cherish each and every member of our community.  We always remind ourselves that the social and economic problems facing us are not just figures on paper, but the livelihood and well-being of every single citizen and family.  I believe that it is in Hong Kong¡¦s best interests to give our people opportunities to fully actualise their potential and pursue their own value and happiness.

187. As a poet wrote, ¡§A great city is that which has the greatest men or women¡¨.  The achievements of Hong Kong¡¦s free and robust economy stand for all to see.  But remarkable economic performance alone does not make a city great.  It is of equal importance that our society remains open and diversified, and that we solve our problems together through rational discussions.  With fairness and care, we can create a vibrant socio-economic environment in which everyone can realise their potential.

188. In my last Budget, I pointed out that we should make good use of the ¡§big society¡¨ which exists somewhere between the ¡§big market¡¨ and the ¡§small government¡¨.  We should join hands to tackle our problems by utilising our abundant social capital.  On the premise that Hong Kong people are always striving to excel while feeling concern for others, we provide the necessary platform for co-operation for the big society, involving the community, business and Government, to work together for social and economic development.

189. Education is a prerequisite for developing social capital.  I propose to devote more resources to the development of talent and increase of knowledge, making learning an essential component of our lives.  In the area of social development, investment in education is the key to enhancing our overall competitiveness.  For personal development, education is an important step in the course of empowerment.  I believe that the education a person receives has a profound effect on his future.  Knowledge is power.  With knowledge, we are masters of our own fate.

190. We have always considered it appropriate to empower the community, and this underpins my Budgets.  I encourage everyone to pursue their own happiness.  To this end, I propose initiatives that encourage young people to strive for self-reliance, support disadvantaged groups to integrate into the community, and seek to help people realise their dreams of starting up business.  At the same time, I will allocate resources and take forward various projects to help community organisations pool their efforts for social development and innovation.

191. At the economic level, we foster the innovative and enterprising spirits that Hong Kong has always been proud of.  I take heart from experience like that of the 40 square feet make-up counter in a shopping arcade in Causeway Bay that has grown into a cosmetics retail group with over a hundred shops in Asia, or the small restaurant in Central that has expanded into a catering enterprise operating more than 600 outlets around the world.  The key to the success of Hong Kong enterprises, as evident in their prosperous growth despite various crises, is the persistence and determination of our people doing their best.  I believe that the support from the Government will help foster an enterprising spirit among our people and eventually nurture more and more new generations of entrepreneurs for Hong Kong.

192. A society which empowers its people will also be a responsible one.  A government is obliged to create a favourable environment, safeguard equal opportunities and maintain fair competition.  It is obliged to deal with socio-economic fluctuations or market failure with appropriate policies.  The community has the responsibility to boost the positive momentum in its members so that they will be able to rise to challenges with tenacity.  Enterprises have the responsibility to demonstrate higher moral standards and act to show their care for the community apart from making profits.

193. The post-tsunami period still abounds with challenges.  The impacts of a changing global economic landscape, the pressure of an ageing population, and the social tension arising from the poverty problem are urgently calling for a broader consensus and greater willingness in our society to confront these issues together.  With our diligence and perseverance, desire for excellence, caring and accommodating attitude, we shall overcome the many difficulties coming our way.  That Hong Kong has emerged from the financial tsunami more vibrant and caring than ever speaks for itself.  I believe Hong Kong will rise to challenges ahead with greater vigour.  The spirit of Hong Kong will continue to shine through.

Ends/Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Issued at HKT 13:00