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CE's statement on 2018-19 Budget
     The Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, today (February 28) issued the following statement on the 2018-19 Budget:

     The Financial Secretary today delivered the first Budget of the current-term Government, providing financial resources to implement all the initiatives announced in my inaugural Policy Address last October, introducing additional policy initiatives with long-term effects, offering one-off relief measures and earmarking another $388 billion for further investing in the future and enhancing public services. In so doing, the Financial Secretary has fully embraced the new style of governance, the new roles of the Government and the new fiscal philosophy that I have set for this term of government.

     Specifically, I am grateful to the Financial Secretary for earmarking an extra $2 billion per year for education, thereby bringing the commitment in my Election Manifesto on "new education resources" from $5 billion, of which about $3.6 billion has been deployed, to a total of $7 billion. This will provide greater capacity for us to accommodate recommendations from the various task forces set up to examine different aspects of quality education. We will continue to uphold the "Led by Professionals" principle and engage stakeholders in the education sector to prioritise the use of these additional resources. I should add that the $2 billion in recurrent expenditure earmarked is in addition to a range of education-related measures contained in the Budget - from school social work services at primary schools and kindergartens, gifted education, continuing education and matching grants for publicly funded universities to the two relief measures to provide a one-off support grant for needy students and a one-off payment to meet students' examination fees for the 2019 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination. These Budget initiatives echo my belief that government expenditure on education is the most significant investment for our future.

     While ensuring the health of our public finance, the Financial Secretary has adopted forward-looking and strategic financial management principles in optimising the use of surplus to invest for Hong Kong and relieve our people's burdens. In respect of healthcare services that are of grave concern to many in the community, the 2018-19 Budget has increased recurrent funding to the Hospital Authority. In addition, the Financial Secretary has set aside a sum of $300 billion to support the second 10-year hospital development plan, improve the clinic facilities of the Department of Health, and upgrade and increase healthcare teaching facilities. This, together with the $200 billion earmarked earlier for hospital development, will bring the total capital commitment to $500 billion.

     I have every confidence that the 2018-19 Budget will inject new impetus into Hong Kong's economy. It also reflects a conscientious effort to address the needs of the people. I appeal to Members of the Legislative Council and the society at large to support these proposals with a view to facilitating their early implementation.
Ends/Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Issued at HKT 12:58
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