Last month, Hong Kong’s new financial chief Paul Chan Mo-po (陳茂波) made his first budget. Chan was picked for the post after the resignation of John Tsang Chun-wah (曾俊華), who is now competing to be the next chief executive. The 2017-18 Budget highlights how the city should make good use of financial resources to progress.
HK’s spending plan
This year, the government will spend more to improve our city. It hopes not only to maintain a sound and progressive economy, but also to enhance its citizens’ living standard.
THE future is uncertain, but it is crucial to plan ahead and save for a rainy day. To sustain Hong Kong’s prosperity, it is especially important to utilise financial resources well. A primary responsibility of the SAR government is to benefit Hong Kong’s citizens and ease their financial burdens. In its 2017-18 Budget, the government is estimated to get HK$507.7 billion as revenue, from selling land and taxing companies and individuals, for example. Meanwhile, it will spend HK$491.4 billion for Hong Kong’s continuous development.
There are six objectives and approaches in this year’s budget, including investing for the future, improving livelihood and enhancing liveability. The following are some plans for how to spend our money this financial year, from 1 April to 31 March.
$89.1 billion (Infrastructure and housing)
THE government spent the most on building infrastructure, such as expanding air, sea and land transport networks. This year, HK$86.8 billion will be spent on these construction projects. They not only improve our quality of life and enhance our business environment, but also create many job opportunities for
the construction industry, transport industry and other trades.
HONG Kong’s houses are the most expensive in the world. To ease citizens’ worries about housing, Hong Kong plans to build 94,500 public housing units
from 2016-17 to 2020-21. For this financial year, 32,000 private housing units will be produced.
THE second largest share in expenditure goes to education. As our city’s future lies in the hands of the next generation, we have to offer more opportunities to students and better equip them. In 2017-18, Hong Kong will allocate HK$300 million to expand the current scholarships and youth exchange programmes to broaden youngsters’ horizons. Spending on pre-primary education will be increased to about HK$6.7 billion.
$18 billion (Tourism and technology)
THIS is one of the pillar industries of Hong Kong, and it largely supports our economy and businesses. This year, the government will spend HK$240 million
on enhancing Hong Kong’s appeal to tourists and attracting visitors who are willing to spend more during their trips.
Innovation and Technology
WE now live in a digital era, so the government plans to set up a new committee on innovation and technology development. It also earmarked HK$10
billion for supporting related development, such as local start-ups.
$80.5billion (Elderly and disability care)
HONG Kong is facing an ageing population and there are more and more elderly people. To prepare for the future, Hong Kong will reserve HK$30 billion to strengthen services for the elderly and disabled people. It will also give more money to people receiving an Old Age Allowance (高齡津貼) or Disability Allowance (傷殘津貼).
1. How can the SAR government get revenue, other than those aforementioned?
2. In what aspects could Hong Kong citizens benefit from in this year’s budget? Which areas should the government spend more money on?
3. To relieve poverty and ease the citizens’ burden, extra allowances will be given. However, some criticise that these are short-term ‘sweeteners’. Do you know why?