Transcript of remarks by CS on Budget (with video)
The Financial Secretary has just delivered the 2023-24 Budget.
Since assuming office last July, the current-term Government has been closely co-operating with all sectors in society to overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 epidemic. Thanks to the concerted efforts, Hong Kong has entered a new phase of resuming full normality. Not only have we re-connected to the international world, we have also fully resumed normal travel with the Mainland. Our economy is expected to see a visible rebound this year. We must join hands now to actively explore and grasp development opportunities for Hong Kong.
At the same time, we are faced with challenges, including quite a sizable deficit as a result of anti-epidemic work over the past three years, and the uncertainties in the external economic environment.
While opportunities and challenges both lie ahead, ensuring opportunities outnumber challenges is the key in this year's Budget. While ensuring public finance sustainability, the Budget has to create strong impetus for growth and enhance people's well-being. This year's Budget is in line with the current-term Government's policy direction, that is, to develop our economy and improve people's livelihood under a result-oriented approach and in a pragmatic manner.
I fully agree with the key directions of this year's Budget, along which a number of short-, medium- and long-term measures are formulated.
First, to achieve speedy recovery and people-oriented governance. This year's Budget puts forward a series of short-term support measures to enable Hong Kong people and enterprises to progress steadily towards full normality. Examples include reduction, waiver or subsidy in items like specified taxes, rates, electricity charges and public transport fares; provision of an extra half-month allowance of standard CSSA (Comprehensive Social Security Assistance) payments, Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance or Disability Allowance; extension of the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme; and launch of fully guaranteed loans for passenger transport operators and travel agents.
Also, the Budget introduces two city-wide initiatives to stimulate local consumption and boost our economy, namely: the consumption voucher scheme to give eligible citizens $5,000 each; and a "Happy Hong Kong" Campaign, jointly organised with relevant sectors, to launch a series of joyful activities for the public to join.
At the same time, this year's Budget includes measures to support Hong Kong's development into a green, liveable and caring city, as well as youth development.
Second, to promote high-quality development and build capacity in alignment with national development strategies. This year's Budget strengthens efforts in investment for the future on various fronts, driving Hong Kong's better integration into the national development. In particular, the Budget earmarks the needed resources to support the city's "eight centres" development under the National 14th Five-Year Plan. It also contains various measures to drive innovation and technology application and development.
Also, with the full resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the rest of the world, the Government is actively drawing talent and enterprises worldwide to boost Hong Kong's competitiveness. To this end, this year's Budget launches a Capital Investment Entrant Scheme to further enrich our talent pool and attract more capital to our city. I believe the scheme can give full play to Hong Kong's strengths in financial and professional services.
Overall, I fully support this year's Budget. I hope the Legislative Council can scrutinise and approve the appropriation bill as soon as possible, so that the various measures can be implemented in a timely manner to chart a brighter future for Hong Kong. Thank you very much.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Issued at HKT 15:00
Issued at HKT 15:00
Audio / Video
CS speaks on Budget