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Budget Speech by the Financial Secretary (1) (with photo/video)

     Following is the full text of the Speech on the 2014-15 Budget delivered by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, in the Legislative Council today (February 26):

Mr President,

     I move that the Appropriation Bill 2014 be read a second time.


2. In the 16 years since our return to China, Hong Kong has seen significant developments in people's livelihood and in the social, economic and political spheres.  Now, in 2014, we have reached a crucial juncture.  We must work together to prepare ourselves for the future, to strengthen further our solid foundation for the well-being of this generation and the next.

3. The community is now discussing the methods for selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 and for forming the Legislative Council in 2016.  I fervently hope that the community will set aside differences, reach a consensus and chart a course towards universal suffrage.

4. On the economic front, the external environment last year was mixed with the US Federal Reserve Board changing towards the end of the year the quantitative easing policy which it has sustained for years.  It is likely that there will be larger and more frequent capital flows into and out of Hong Kong.  We must be prepared to withstand the inevitable volatility while adapting to the underlying changes in the global landscape to open up opportunity for future development.

5. Last month, the Chief Executive delivered a wide ranging Policy Address with over 160 measures benefiting a broad spectrum of the community.  The additional expenditure involved is $25 billion.  I shall ensure that financial resources are adequate to fully support the early launch of the relevant initiatives to meet the aspirations of the public.

6. I set up the Working Group on Long-Term Fiscal Planning to explore ways to make more comprehensive planning for our public finances to cope with an ageing population and other long-term commitments.  I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the experts and scholars in the Working Group for their hard work in the past six months or so as well as their independent and professional analyses and recommendations.  The Working Group's report points out that, with an ageing population and a shrinking workforce, economic and revenue growth would decelerate; a structural deficit would be inevitable if expenditure growth outpaces revenue growth in a persistent manner.  This reminds us of the importance of "living within our means" and "fiscal prudence".  Government will keep the overall fiscal health in view and take timely targeted measures to ensure the sustainability of public finances.

7. Competitiveness is the theme of this Budget.  I shall set out proposals on bolstering Hong Kong's position as an international hub, the promotion of industries, the keys and limits to development, and fiscal sustainability.  I believe that the proposed measures will enhance our competitiveness, help keep Hong Kong's economy growing, improve our business environment, increase employment opportunities and maintain the health of public finances.  With all this in place, I hope that everyone in the community will be able to realise their potential, live a better life and pursue their aspirations.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Issued at HKT 11:04


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