Your article “Major projects threaten Hong Kong’s finances” (Report, November 8) offers a misleading view of Hong Kong’s fiscal position.
On the contrary, Hong Kong’s fiscal reserves will remain strong as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government continues to maintain fiscal discipline to preserve long-term budgetary sustainability as it pursues new economic growth engines.
With the success of our efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19 and the stimulation brought about by the countercyclical measures, our economy remains on track to recover from the pandemic, as evidenced by the year-on-year real gross growth domestic product of 7 percent recorded for the first three quarters of 2021.
The projected consolidated deficit for 2021-’22 of about HK $ 100 billion – mainly due to the countercyclical measures – may appear to be smaller due to higher government revenues due to an improved economy. In addition, the consolidated deficits are forecast to decrease significantly in the coming years to within HK $ 20 billion annually, and a consolidated surplus is forecast in 2025-2026.
It is undeniable that our legislature has been paralyzed over the past few years by some legislators’ filibusting tactics. After implementing the principle of “Hong Kong’s patriotic administration”, the Legislative Council was finally able to resume its role in allocating funding while exercising proper controls and balances. The average time spent investigating a funding item returned to about one hour in the 2020-’21 legislative session, comparable to the average time spent before filibustering began in 2012.
Of the HK $ 328 billion in funding approved in the 2020-2021 legislative session, HK $ 60bn relates to work combating Covid and providing mitigation measures to individuals and businesses, which are essential to our recovery from the pandemic.
Large-scale infrastructure projects such as Northern Metropolis and Lantau Tomorrow Vision require very large investments. However, one should not just focus on the cost side and overlook the opportunities that these projects offer. They will not only help address Hong Kong’s housing challenges, but also provide much-needed land supplies to sustain our economic growth and in turn generate significant government revenue in terms of land premiums to replenish our fiscal reserves.
Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Hong Kong