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CE's statement on 2014-15 Budget

     The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, today (February 26) issued the following statement on the 2014-15 Budget:

     The Financial Secretary has just delivered the Budget speech for 2014-15. This is a well-thought-out and responsible Budget, with targeted initiatives to respond to the aspirations of the public. It also makes long-term planning for our public finances to enable Hong Kong to meet the challenges ahead.

     The Budget provides stable and long-term financial resources to fully support the implementation of initiatives announced in my Policy Address in January, so that the current-term Government can fulfil its pledges to alleviate poverty, care for the elderly, support the disadvantaged, nurture the youth and enhance the quality of public healthcare services. We will continue to devote resources to social welfare and healthcare services.

     I agree with the Financial Secretary that Hong Kong must improve the efficiency in the flow of people, goods, capital and information, and enhance the quality of our living environment and our position as an international hub. We will continue to increase investment in infrastructure, sharpen Hong Kong's competitive edge and create a better living environment for our people.

     The Government appreciates the case for increasing expenditure. Yet it is also keenly aware of the importance of economic development. We need sustained economic growth so that we could have the capacity to address issues such as poverty, housing, an ageing society, environmental protection and the upward mobility of our young people. In this year's Policy Address, I talked at great length about economic development. On this basis, the Budget has analysed the strengths of our economy and constraints on our economic development. It also elaborates on the Government's efforts in promoting various industries and measures to alleviate labour and land shortages.

     Land supply, which is not only about housing but also about employment, is a major issue that the current-term Government is determined to address. Inadequate land supply will constrain Hong Kong's economic development, drive up property prices and rental levels, and weaken our competitiveness. The Budget gives a brief account of the progress of and plans to implement measures to increase commercial land supply in the short, medium and long term. This is a difficult challenge for the Government and the community, and we have to make choices and accept trade-offs.

     Steady economic development during the current term of Government has landed us in a relatively strong fiscal position. However, the Government should uphold the principle of fiscal prudence. As I said in this year's Policy Address, "Money should be spent on helping those in need, improving the quality of life for all, enhancing our competitiveness as a whole, nurturing the next generation and making long-term investments."

     The Working Group on Long-Term Fiscal Planning has reminded the Government to ensure that the growth in public expenditure will not exceed that of the economy and government revenue for a prolonged period of time. Simply put, this is the Government's basic responsibility under Article 107 of the Basic Law. As the Financial Secretary says, we should neither take the problem lightly nor over worry. As long as we take timely actions and introduce appropriate measures, we can still afford new measures that benefit and meet the needs of the public while preventing the Working Group's projected results from surfacing.  

     This Budget strictly follows the principle of keeping expenditure within the limits of revenue while making long-term investments for the sustained and long-term economic development of Hong Kong. It seeks to control expenses while increasing revenue through economic development. This will enable the Government to continue to tackle the long-standing problems in our society.  

     I hope the public and the Legislative Council will support this Budget.

Ends/Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Issued at HKT 13:03


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