FS speaks on Appropriation Bill 2016 (with video)

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Financial Secretary, Mr John C Tsang, at a media session at the Legislative Council Complex this afternoon (May 13):

Financial Secretary: I shall now summarise what I have just said in English. LegCo has just passed the Appropriation Bill 2016, more than two months after the delivery of my Budget Speech. Four years in a row, the annual Appropriation Bill was subjected to filibustering by a few LegCo members, wasting much time and much resources. I wish to thank the 49 members who voted for the bill, in particular members of the pro-establishment camp, who have spent much time and effort in sticking with the long, drawn-out meetings.

     As I have mentioned in the Budget, 2016 will be a challenging year for the global economy. The Hong Kong economy will also face severe headwinds and downward pressure this year, owing to the weak and volatile external environment. That is why I have allocated in this year's Budget some $39 billion in tax and short-term relief measures to support local businesses, in particular our small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as to safeguard employment and to ease our citizens' burden. These short-term measures, together with other spending initiatives in the Budget, are expected to bring about a stimulus effect of 1.1 per cent of GDP growth.

     With the passage of the Appropriation Bill, we shall now implement these initiatives as soon as possible in order to provide a timely boost to our economy. I shall continue to monitor closely Hong Kong's economic situation as well as the condition of the local job market, which is showing some signs of weakening with the slowdown in our export, tourism and retail sectors. I must stress, however, that with our sound economic fundamentals, our stringent financial regulatory regime, robust banking system and healthy fiscal position, we do have the capability, we do have the experience and the determination, to rise to the challenge that has been the result of the current weak economic downturn. Thank you very much.

Reporter: Mr Tsang, are you happy that more lawmakers give you support of this Budget, much more than last time?

Financial Secretary: As in all other Budgets, we try our best to solicit as much support as possible, and we always work hard every year, in the last nine years, in soliciting the same kind of support and I'm grateful to the members who have lent us their support.

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

Ends/Friday, May 13, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:45