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Transcript of remarks by CS on Budget (with video)

     Following is a transcript of remarks by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Stephen Lam, at a media session on the 2012-13 Budget in the Legislative Council Complex this afternoon (February 1):

     The 2012-13 Budget is one that encompasses measures across the board to meet the needs of our community.

     Firstly, there are measures proposed in the social, economic and livelihood policy portfolios which meet the needs of our community. In respect of education, medical, housing, labour, training, in all these portfolios, there is going to be significant increase in public expenditure.

     Secondly, the Budget proposes a continuation to build the tradition of caring for our community. The Community Care Fund has already been in operation for a year or so. We have proposed over 10 measures to benefit over 300,000 people of Hong Kong. It is now time, we believe, for us to review the impacts of these measures, to assess the benefits which they have brought to our community, and to consider very seriously whether these pilot measures should be regularised and whether the recurrent expenditure of these measures should be met from the Government's budget. The Community Care Fund Steering Committee will commence this review. We will review, for example, measures such as the provision of a lunch allowance for our needy students and the provision of funds to enable cancer patients to purchase their special drugs.

     Thirdly, this is a Budget which invests in the future of Hong Kong. If we look at the Public Works Programme, there is significant and important increase in our commitment. For the next financial year alone, we are going to have $62 billion worth of capital works launched. In the years ahead, this will increase on a per annum basis to about $70 billion every year. In total we are going to commence over $400 billion worth of capital works. All these projects will provide very important employment opportunities for our younger generation and they will also represent a most significant and important substantial investment in Hong Kong's future.

     Fourthly, this Budget continues the fine tradition of prudence in public finances. By the end of the 2012-13 financial year, we expect to be able to accumulate over $650 billion in our fiscal reserves. This will provide a broad and deep basis for the fourth-term HKSAR Government to commence its new five-year term and to serve the people of Hong Kong with substantial resources.

     We therefore very much hope that this Budget will receive the support of the Legislative Council and that of the wider community.

Reporter: The Government has $650 billion of reserves in Hong Kong. Now the Government is only repeating the measures in the past like different tax allowances, tax rebates to taxpayers. Do you think the Government seems too conservative?

Chief Secretary for Administration: I would say that the Financial Secretary and his colleagues have considered the possible options very carefully. And they have listened to very widely views of political parties, stakeholders and those of the people of Hong Kong. In totality, the measures, the various relief measures, which are being proposed will total up to about $80 billion, and that is a substantial figure. In the course of discussions of the Budget, I am sure political parties will be able to put forth further views.

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

Ends/Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Issued at HKT 17:10


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