Last week, Albert Cheng strongly criticized the Liberal Party for our opposition to Li Ka-shing’s suggestion that corporate tax be raised in order to narrow the wealth gap.
Mr. Cheng said we are merely concerned about protecting the vested interests we represent, regardless of the misery of the working poor.
First, I must make it clear that we have the utmost respect for Mr. Li as a great business leader and an extraordinary philanthropist who has been working tirelessly to help the needy.
Second, I must reiterate that the Liberal Party has been a champion of the underprivileged and the working poor since its founding.
Over the years, we have pushed for more public resources to help the underprivileged.
The reason we are opposed to Mr. Li’s suggestion is clear and simple: Leung Chun-ying’s administration is so flushed with cash that raising corporate tax is unnecessary.
The truth is, all it takes to narrow the wealth gap is for our government to stop wasting money and start giving back generously to society by tapping into the huge fiscal reserves.
Besides, given that our government is notoriously stingy, chances are the extra revenue from any increase in corporate tax will only end up in its own coffers.
In the past financial year, the fiscal reserves were a whopping HK$820 billion (US$36.1 billion) and the Exchange Fund was HK$3.5 trillion, not to mention the hundreds of billions of dollars hidden in various government funds.
Mr. Cheng said in his article that the government can earn an extra HK$17 billion if it raises corporate tax by 2 percent.
That might sound like a lot of money but the fact is, it is peanuts compared to HK$100 billion the government receives every year in investment returns from the Exchange Fund.
Imagine what can be achieved and how many lives will improve if the government stopped penny-pinching and invested the profit from the Exchange Fund in healthcare, education and housing.
Mr. Cheng accused the Liberal Party of being heartless but avoided mentioning that the government has been miserly. His article is simply misleading.
He used to be known as a big fan of former chief executive Donald Tsang.
Judging by the way he skirted the issue of stinginess by this government, he might already have switched his allegiance to Leung Chun-ying.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jul 13
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
You have to give a little to take a little (July 11, 2016)
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