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Transcript of remarks by FS at press conference on Hong Kong's latest overall economic situation (with photos)

     The Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, and the Government Economist, Mrs Helen Chan, today (December 1) held a press conference on Hong Kong's latest overall economic situation at the Information Services Department Press Conference Room. Following is the transcript of remarks by the Financial Secretary at the press conference:

Reporter: Secretary, could you comment on last night's events in Admiralty at the occupy movement? And my second question is: How has the occupy movement affected economic growth in this third quarter? You mentioned that there has been double-digit growth in visitors, but you said in non-Mainland visitors there has been a drop. And looking towards the future, if the occupy movement continues, what are your concerns? Thank you.

Financial Secretary: I've already explained that earlier. I think you just want to have a - I'll just provide you with a brief English explanation. The occupy movement made some pretty violent type of move on Hong Kong Island in Admiralty, and the Police went on to enforce, which, you know, this is their job. I feel that this sort of organised movement is totally irresponsible and is totally, sort of, ruffian type of attack needs to be reprimanded.

Reporter: ... if it continues, what are your concerns? Do you think people won't invest in Hong Kong? How will it affect investors' confidence in the city?

Financial Secretary: My biggest concern is really for the middle and longer term. If the occupation were to continue, no doubt our international image could be seriously damaged, which could lead to investment confidence running down. We have already seen different examples of that recently, and if the instability were to continue, that would also affect pay level as well as new job creations. But what is more important, if that whole rule of law concept were to be damaged, that would be very difficult to repair. That is our really core value. That kind of internal damage would be very difficult to heal.

Reporter: Sir, recently several economists have come out with comments that the debt level that Hong Kong companies and households have taken on is too high and has made Hong Kong one of the most vulnerable economies in Asia from an external shock, as, for example, particularly an interest rate hike, as you have pointed out before. Would you share the opinion that the debt level in Hong Kong is too high, and what is the Government doing to prepare for possible external shock?

Financial Secretary: I don't believe our debt level is too high. I think the debt level in Hong Kong now is manageable, and our banking regulator is keeping a very close watch at all times, and as a matter of fact we've been keeping a pretty close watch since 2008 on all the overall situation, and the current situation is still manageable.

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

Ends/Monday, December 1, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:27


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