Thursday, April 7, 2011 Lawmakers continue to condemn budget


Lawmakers continue to condemn budget

April 7, 2011
Lai Ying-kit

Legislators from different political camps on Thursday continued to criticise Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah?s budget ? reiterating that it had failed to address Hong Kong?s long-term social problems.

On the second day of Legislative Council talks on the budget, legislators said the budget did little to help the poor, despite a plan to give away about HK$40 billion ? including a HK$6,000 handout to all permanent residents.

They said measures proposed in Tsang?s budget failed to address ?deep-rooted? social problems such as high property prices and a widening wealth gap.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat, who represents the New Territories West constituency, said the proposed HK$6,000 cash handouts set a precedent that might expand government expenditure enormously in the future.

People would want more handouts when the economy improved, he said.

?Next year, the public will ask: ?Last year, you gave us HK$6,000. This year, we should have more, say HK$7,000??, Lee said.

Liberal Party lawmaker Vincent Fang Kang, who represents the wholesale and retail sectors, said the public expected the government to invest in Hong Kong?s infrastructure and to allocate more resources to help the underprivileged.

Civic Party leader Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said Tsang?s fourth budget remained his least popular since taking office in 2007.

She said that, even after he announced the cash handout, thousands protested against the budget?s failure to address long-term issues. Tsang?s controversial budget was delivered on February 23. In an unprecedented move a week later, the financial secretary announced amendments to the budget by distributing HK$6,000 to all permanent residents.

This was after his controversial plan to inject HK$24 billion into individual MPF accounts led to a public outcry. Critics said the move would not benefit every Hong Kong resident fairly.

Legislators are expected to vote on the budget next week.

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