Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
FS meets LegCo members on 2011-12 Budget

     The Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, met some Legislative Council (LegCo) members this afternoon (March 8) to listen to their views on the 2011-12 Budget.

     Mr Tsang briefed the LegCo members on his proposed revised package.  Among various initiatives he proposed to grant all holders of Hong Kong permanent identity cards aged 18 or above a sum of $6,000.

     ˇ§Members of the public may draw the sum according to their wishes. The initiative will also include some incentive to encourage saving," he said.

     Mr Tsang also proposed to inject additional money into the Community Care Fund to help those who may not be able to benefit from the package but in need of financial assistance, including new arrivals.

     The Community Care Fund Steering Committee will work out the details in discussion with relevant Government departments.

     In addition, the Financial Secretary also proposed a tax rebate of 75 per cent of salaries tax and tax under personal assessment, subject to a ceiling of $6,000, equivalent to last year's tax rebate arrangement.

     In response to the call for a structural change in government expenditure, Mr Tsang pointed out that the operating expenditure for 2011-12 will reach $298 billion, including recurrent expenditure of more than $242 billion, representing an eight per cent increase on the previous financial year.  The increase, which is greater than GDP growth, reflects the Government's continued commitment to improving people's livelihood.

     In 2011-12, 56.4 per cent of the recurrent expenditure will be spent on education, health care and social welfare.  Since 2007-08, government expenditure has increased by more than $136 billion, an increase of 58 per cent, far exceeding the 15.8 per cent nominal GDP growth over the same period.

     Regarding universal retirement protection, Mr Tsang noted that the LegCo Panel on Welfare Services has already passed a motion to establish a subcommittee to study the matter.

     Mr Tsang pointed out that Hong Kong has been adopting a three-pillar model for retirement protection: the non-contributory social security system, the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) system and voluntary private savings.

     Noting that some LegCo members may have different views on the existing retirement protection model, Mr Tsang said that the Government has all along taken into account the socio-economic changes and will closely monitor the operation of the existing model, adjusting the system when necessary.

     ˇ§I have also proposed in the Budget to increase the community living supplement for elderly CSSA recipients,ˇ¨ Mr Tsang said.

     With regard to the MPF system, Mr Tsang said that the Central Policy Unit is now refining the study on the sustainability of the existing retirement protection system in the light of latest developments.  Views expressed by various sectors of the community will be taken into consideration.

     On suggestions regarding the resumption of the Home Ownership Scheme, Mr Tsang said he understood people's wishes for affordable homes and home ownership.  He stressed that one of the Government's current policy objectives is to ensure the stable development of the property market.

     He said that the Government has announced a series of short, medium and long-term measures.  These measures are intended to increase flat supply, curb property speculation, enhance transparency in the property market, and prevent excessive expansion in mortgage lending.

     The Government had also raised the income limit for public housing applicants, and had announced the launching of the "My Home Purchase Plan" in collaboration with the Hong Kong Housing Society.

     Just as with any other livelihood issues, the Government will listen to views expressed by members of the public on housing.

     Funding for health care, education and environmental protection has increased significantly.  Recurrent expenditure on education would amount to $54.5 billion in 2011-12, accounting for 22.5 per cent of total recurrent government expenditure and representing a six per cent increase on the 2010-11 revised estimate.

     New resource allocations are mainly for the continued implementation of the new senior secondary academic structure, small class teaching in public sector primary schools, Pre-primary Education Voucher Scheme, improvement measures on extension of years of study for students in aided special schools, relaxing the income ceiling for student financial assistance, increasing grants of academic expenses for eligible post-secondary students as well as the provision of additional places for primary and secondary student and teachers to join Mainland exchange programmes.

     As for health care, recurrent expenditure will amount to $39.9 billion, taking up 16.5 per cent of recurrent government expenditure and representing a nine per cent increase on last year.  The new funding is mainly to provide for the enhancement of mental health services, expansion of the coverage of the Hospital Authority Drug Formulary, enhancement of chronic disease management and shortening of the waiting time for specialist services. All users of public health care services will benefit from these measures.

     On the environment, recurrent expenditure will increase by 12.4 per cent, while the total expenditure will grow substantially to reach 12.8 billion, representing an increase of nearly 30 per cent.  Major initiatives include an injection into the Environment and Conservation Fund, subsidising franchised bus companies to use hybrid buses, retrofitting of Euro II and III buses with catalytic reduction devices, implementing various public works relating to environmental protection, such as the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme and the construction of a district cooling system at the Kai Tak Development, setting up the Pilot Green Transport Fund and promoting greater use of electric vehicles.

     Overall, the Budget has put in place initiatives on various fronts to guarantee continued improvement in people's livelihood.  It is believed that these measures are in the long-term interests of the community.  The Government will continue to actively listen to views expressed by members of the public.

Ends/Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Issued at HKT 21:21


Print this page