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Transcript of remarks by FS at Budget press conference (with photos/video)

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at the Budget press conference at Central Government Offices, Tamar, today (February 24):

Reporter: Mr Tsang, in your Budget Speech you discuss in great detail various political and social conflicts, problems. But it seems that you did not propose any concrete solutions. Do you have any solutions to these problems in mind, or do you think the greater chaos, as suggested by you, are unavoidable? And actually many pan-democrat lawmakers said your Budget Speech is way better than the Chief Executive's Policy Address. Are you very happy to hear that? And People Power lawmaker Albert Chan actually said he told you that your Budget Speech is just like your announcement speech for the Chief Executive election, and you just smiled without saying anything. Can you clarify whether you are really getting ready for the race?

Financial Secretary: Maybe you can sort of summarise and let me know what is your question.

Reporter: My first question is about the political and social conflicts you suggested. Do you have any concrete solutions to them?

Financial Secretary: As I have mentioned earlier, this is a complex issue. I think what we need to do, it is going to take a long time to resolve this type of issues. This type of issues took a long time to form, and so it would take also a long time to resolve. But I think the first thing that we need to do is to come to a consensus, come to a recognition, come to an understanding that there is such a problem and we do have the determination to resolve that. And in order to do that, we have to overlook some of the short-term political benefits and then look at the overall long-term benefits for Hong Kong, and I think with that kind of determination I'm sure we can resolve anything that's confronting us.

Reporter: Can you clarify whether your Budget Speech is your announcement speech for the Chief Executive race?

Financial Secretary: Albert Chan said that. But you know he's always blabbering. Don't take him seriously.

Reporter: There have been criticisms about this year・s Budget, that (it) doesn・t have relief measures for the grassroots. What・s your response on that? And I understand that you have four quarters of waivers but there・s no rent waiver this year, and why is that. Why did you decide to do that? And also another question, do you think it・s appropriate for the Government to rather spend money on an iBond that only has two per cent return rather than to distribute this amount of money to the low-income families? Thank you.

Financial Secretary: About the rates, about relief, I think I・ve answered that question about four times already, so I don・t want to repeat that again. I think I want to save some time for some other questions. But I・m sure you・re bilingual, right? But anyway, as to the iBond question, in doing that it・s really not dishing out any more resources, period. This is creating another channel for people to invest, and this is also a way for us to build up the bond programme in Hong Kong. Bond issue has always been weak in Hong Kong and we have been trying very hard to use government resources to try to build up that particular sector and hopefully that will serve a purpose.

Reporter: Many people have said your Budget is in stark contrast to the Policy Address, like you mentioned the :One Belt One Road; Initiative only three times compared to the 44 times mentioned by the Chief Executive. Why is there such a big difference and does that suggest a growing rift between you and the Chief Executive, and are you trying to drum up support ahead of the Chief Executive Election using this Budget? Thank you.

Financial Secretary: I must make clear about this :One Belt One Road; thing. In the past year, I have talked about, I mean, if you look back at my Budget last year, I covered that quite extensively, and in this past year I must have mentioned :One Belt One Road; over 400 times, so maybe you can count, look at my different speeches and different things, so many, many, many times. So I don・t, you know, people are always talking about this stark contrast. But in terms of government policy, government direction, we are from the same government and we progress in the same direction for the benefit of the Hong Kong people. There is no rift between us.

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

Ends/Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Issued at HKT 22:54


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