The Financial Secretary will announce his latest Budget at the end of next month. The Government has enjoyed a fiscal surplus for 13 consecutive years, and now has an accumulated surplus of more than HK$1 trillion. There are voices in the community calling for cash handouts to the public.
But I think it is necessary for the Government to plan for the future, make good use of this abundant surplus to implement its long-term plans and strive to create a streamlined regulatory environment. Various channels should also be provided to help SMEs enhance their efficiency and competitiveness.
According to the IMD World Talent Ranking 2018 released at the end of last year, Hong Kong plummeted to 18th place, with its ranking in terms of “talent investment and development” and “attracting and retaining talent” going down. Hong Kong was even ranked third-last among 63 regions in terms of the cost of living. Our drop in this ranking can be attributed to a number of factors. However, it is worth considering that the Government needs to make more effort to retain talent and improve our business environment in order to enhance Hong Kong’s competitiveness.
As such, we cannot be complacent, despite having a huge surplus. Instead, we should adopt a “down-to-earth” and long-term approach when implementing policies, and should introduce various tax cuts in a well-planned manner and support SMEs with bold measures. Meanwhile, the Government should proactively plan for various long-term development projects and review outdated laws, with a view to sustaining Hong Kong’s status as one of the most attractive business and financial hubs in the world.
On the other hand, we are faced with various negative factors affecting the economic environment including the trade war, stock market volatilities and rates hike, amid a possible reverse in the property market trend that has seen real estate prices rising without any sign of dropping for more than a decade. Therefore, I hope the Government will ensure adjustment measures are in place to regulate the property market and improve SMEs’ access to finance.
In recent years, Hong Kong society has been moving towards populism, with some people opposing the Government while the labour sector confronts the business sector.
These people care only about welfare issues and neglect the challenges and difficulties the business community faces. The SAR Government should attach great importance and listen to the voice of business by showing its “down-to-earth” and long-term vision in its upcoming Budget, so as to maintain the position of Hong Kong as an international metropolis where businesses thrive and talent congregates.