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Budget Speech by the Financial Secretary (1) (with photo/video)
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     Following is the full text of the Speech on the 2015-16 Budget delivered by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, in the Legislative Council today (February 25):

Mr President,

     I move that the Appropriation Bill 2015 be read a second time.

Introduction

2. Today is the seventh day of the Lunar New Year, our common birthday in the Chinese tradition.  May I wish you, Mr President, Members and fellow citizens good health and happiness in the Year of the Ram.

3. 2014 was an extraordinary year for all of us.  Momentous events, local and global, changed the lives of many and transformed our city.  Events are still unfolding, and will require our close scrutiny.  But, one thing is for sure íV a totally different environment has emerged which presents new challenges ahead.

4. Since the start of 2015, the international political arena and global financial markets have provided plenty of breaking news.  The launch of quantitative easing by Europe and Japan has increased global liquidity.  On top of heightened geopolitical tensions in a number of regions, terrorism has added further uncertainty and once again rattled the nerves of the international community.  Locally, with constitutional reform entering the next stage, we anticipate that disputes, both inside and outside the Council, will become even more vehement this year.

5. The long drawn out unlawful occupy movement disrupted different facets of the city to varying degrees.  The serious divisions in society that emerged during the 79 days has not only affected the image of Hong Kong, but also aroused concern about much more radical social conflict which in turn will make it harder to mend conflicted relationships among people.

6. Without doubt, the social issues revealed during the incident did not come about, nor can they be resolved, overnight.  We should seek to narrow our differences and pursue consensus with patience and pragmatism.  Prolonged bickering will only bog down our development.

7. I am glad to see that most people do care dearly for our home, Hong Kong.  People do cherish our fine tradition of the rule of law, and do not want to see our well-developed systems eroded.  Diversity, openness, peace and freedom are not only our core values, but also the foundations of our success, and the most reliable co-ordinates of our development path.  If we can firmly grasp these fundamentals, we shall be more confident charting our way forward.

8. This year's Budget will complement the initiatives announced in the Policy Address and address the constraints on land and manpower through the effective use of resources.  We seek to reinforce the foundation for long-term economic development.  In addition to capitalising on our strengths, I shall explore new ideas and strive for diversity to help members of the community realise their aspirations.  In particular, I shall make the best use of resources generated by the community's efforts, and continue to care for the disadvantaged and promote sustainable development, so that people from different sectors as well as our next generations can share the benefits of economic growth.

(To be continued.)

Ends/Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Issued at HKT 11:05

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