CE's statement on 2013-14 Budget

     The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, today (February 27) issued the following statement on the 2013-14 Budget:

     The Financial Secretary has just delivered his first Budget speech of the new-term Government. The Budget provides financial resources to fully support my Policy Address. It is a forward-looking and responsible Budget, which lays a solid foundation for the long-term and sustained economic development of Hong Kong.

     In support of the Policy Address delivered in January, this Budget has provided resources worth $60 billion for the implementation of the new policies set out under the longer-term blueprint of the current-term Government. These include the injection of $15 billion into the Community Care Fund to support the work to alleviate poverty, injection of $5 billion into the Environment and Conservation Fund and setting aside $10 billion to implement the programme of progressively phasing out the heavily polluting pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles. Echoing the governing directions of this Government, the themes of the Budget are "developing the economy, optimising human resources, caring for people's livelihood and investing in infrastructure". The Budget has sought to respond to the aspirations of various sectors in the community.

     I have all along stressed that sustained economic growth is a prerequisite for us to tackle housing, poverty, an ageing population and environmental problems. The current-term Government puts great emphasis on economic development. The Government will expand Hong Kong's economy and create more employment opportunities so that our people can share the fruits of economic development. The Financial Secretary put forward various measures to promote economic development, consolidate our existing advantages and explore new growth areas, as well as exploit business opportunities and new markets. In view of the uncertain global outlook, the Budget proposed measures to support the small and medium enterprises. The Financial Secretary also made substantial investment in education and training to optimise human resources. New measures include establishing scholarships, setting up a training fund and injection of $15 billion to the Employees Retraining Board, to nurture quality human capital and enhance our overall productivity.

     Operating expenditure for 2013-14 is estimated to be $352 billion, representing an increase of 15.5 per cent over the revised estimate for 2012-13. The increase in expenditure for 2013-14 far exceeds the estimated nominal GDP growth in 2013. This fully demonstrates the Government's commitment to serving our people. The Government is very concerned about the people's welfare and medical needs, and will continue to provide resources for welfare and medical services.

     In view of the uncertain external outlook, the expected lower-than-trend growth rate of GDP, inflation risks and upward pressure on the unemployment rate in the year ahead, the Budget introduced a package of relief measures worth $33 billion to help ease the burden on our enterprises and people.

     The Government must make early preparation to embrace the challenges posed by the ageing population. The Financial Secretary will set up a working group to explore ways to make more comprehensive long-term planning for our public finances.

     This is a well-thought-out Budget, with targeted initiatives to respond to the present needs of the community, and lays a solid foundation for the long-term development of Hong Kong. I hope that the Legislative Council and the public will support this Budget.

     As the Economic Development Commission, the Commission on Poverty, the Steering Committee on Population Policy and the study on large-scale land development enter full swing in the coming year, the Government will review the long-term fiscal conditions of Hong Kong and the related public finance principles to make more effort in solving long-standing social problems and building a more competitive economy.

Ends/Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Issued at HKT 17:08