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Transcript of remarks by FS at media session (with video)
     Following is the transcript of remarks at a media session by the Financial Secretary, Mr Paul Chan, after attending the "Voices from the Hall - Budget Consultation" forum organised by Radio Television Hong Kong today (January 13):
Reporter: Secretary, we have the largest, one of the worst Gini coefficient in the world. There are demands for more resources into, to be put into education, social welfare, and also, you know, the public health care system. So why are we still spending so much money on infrastructural projects instead of those other areas especially like social welfare? And also could you explain why you have reservations in lifting, helping those, giving those people a hand, who are almost there, and being able to get their own home? Why do you have the reservations?
Financial Secretary: Well, in terms of increasing expenditure on education, social security, social welfare, as compared to expenditure on infrastructure, I must point out that these two are not mutually exclusive. If you look at the figures for the past few years, expenditure on both recurrent education, social welfare, as well as infrastructure spending are all on the rise. So, on the one hand, we have to take care of those in need. But on the other hand, we need to invest in infrastructure to maintain and enhance our competitiveness.
     As to your question about whether the Government should relax the mortgage ratio so as to help those who are able to make the mortgage  payment but may not be able to come up with a substantial down payment, we are very cautious about this because at this level, the property price is extraordinary high and the property market has been on the rise for quite a prolonged period. As you may have noticed, after I answered questions at the Legislative Council on Monday, there were newspaper editorials and commentators pointing out that if at this stage we try to help those who have marginal financial capability to enter into the property market, this may push the market further up unnecessarily. And also if there is a correction in the market, those people will be the most hard hit. This could be a very unbearable situation for them. So we have been monitoring the situation, we share their concern but we have remained to be very cautious.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Saturday, January 13, 2018
Issued at HKT 16:38
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