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Tang Discusses Next Budget

by Mary Swire, for, Hong Kong

28 November 2006

In a radio interview this week, Hong Kong Financial Secretary, Henry Tang revealed that he will devise the 2007-08 Budget based on the principle of prudent management of public finances, in order to provide room for the next Chief Executive to launch new plans or policy changes.

Mr Tang explained that he will soon outline budgetary policies for the period from April 2007 to March 2008. He stated that they will be devised from the outset based on principles like "market leads, government facilitates" and "prudent management of public finances".

Revealing that the Hong Kong Government has, through spending control, saved $16.7 billion in the past two years, Mr Tang stressed that he will maintain a strict fiscal discipline and ensure the effective use of resources.

He said when formulating budgetary policies, he will also consider how to boost the economy and create more jobs. The total number of people employed hit a record-high of 3.5 million in October - 310,000 more than three years ago. The most significant growth was seen in import/export, tourism and finance/insurance trades.

On tax reform, Mr Tang explained that the consultation is still ongoing, and more views must be sought from the community.

When asked if it would be possible to see the salary tax revert to the 2002-03 level, Mr Tang observed that the suggestion requires more in-depth consideration. Issues such as the narrow tax base, the level of tax rates and adjustment to the standard rate also need to be taken into account, he added.

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