Limited options in the upcoming budget: Paul ChanLocal | 21 Feb 2021 8:18 pm
Revealing the budget’s turquoise cover in his blog, Chan said one should “cook a meal depending on the ingredients available” – indicating the limitations the government faced with tightened purse strings.
Chan said like the four seasons and flowers blooming, the economy has ups and down, and the pea green color represents “hopes for the future”.
“No matter if it’s just a small blade of grass or a big tree, they both started from a tiny seed – but one that keeps its infinite vitality hidden,” he wrote.
Chan said like in the past, he had communicated with citizens and people from different sectors, to understand their conditions and what they needed.
“After balancing different considerations and limitations in reality, the framework and measures of the budget were finally finalized,” he said.
In response to the economic downturn and to fight against the pandemic, the government’s fiscal deficit has soared to a record high, Chan said.
He said the deficit will remain relatively large in the upcoming fiscal year as the government has to maintain “a countercyclical policy” to stabilize the economy which has not yet been recovered.
“In reality, we can only eat the food on the table, so there are limited choices. However, we still hope that we can help and support our family and friends. We hope that we can still talk and laugh, and to face the future positively and optimistically regardless of how much food is on the table,” Chan said.
“The pandemic will pass, and the difficulties must be overcome. The changing environment will make us more resilient,” he added.
In the coming budget, it is expected that some 70 of the 300 soccer pitches under Leisure and Cultural Services Department could be improved, with some of them converted to the five-a-side format.
To encourage the use of electric vehicles, it is understood the government would require new buildings to have charging facilities in their car parks where the power companies will pull the cables to the buildings and such costs will be borne by the government.
Sources also said fresh rounds of inflation-linked retail bonds, i.e. iBond, and Silver Bond are expected in the budget.
The issue amount of iBond could be higher than last year’s 15 billion with a minimum interest rate at two percent.
As for the silver bond, it is said the age requirement for subscription could be lowered from the current 65 or above.
The new budget will be released on Wednesday.