Hong Kong’s new budget was unveiled Wednesday, with Finance Secretary John Tsang making clear a policy of government spending to soften risks of economic slowdown.
[John Tsang, Hong Kong Finance Secretary]:
“Given the bleak economic prospects in Europe and the US, the risk of a sharp deterioration of the external environment is increasing.”
In his last budget speech as a member of the outgoing administration, Tsang described HK$80 billion (10.32 billion US dollars) worth of measures to help ease the coming trouble.
Social spending, and economic moves targeted at relieving working class burdens are notable in the new measures. Just outside the government center where Tsang spoke, union demonstrators called for more attention from an administration perceived as focusing on the needs of huge economic players.
[Alice Mak, Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions]:
“We ask the government to use, to propose effective measures to help the underprivileged and the grass roots of society.”
Economic fairness, and attention to rising inequality levels, has also become a growing narrative among opposition politicians—especially in this election year.
[Miriam Lau, Liberal Party Chairman]:
“We ask for effective measures to help the middle class and the small and medium sized enterprises because the government has not been paying too much attention to them in the past and I think the small and medium sized enterprises are facing a very difficult year.”
Tsang said he expected economic growth to slow to 1-3 percent in 2012 from 5 percent last year, and cautioned that bleak economic prospects in Europe and the US posed the risk of a possible double dip in the global economy.