Filibuster of the government’s 2017-18 budget is seen likely after pan-democratic lawmakers criticized it for not being attentive enough to livelihood issues.
On Wednesday, the first day of debate on the second reading of Appropriation Bill 2017, some democrats expressed their dissatisfaction with the budget for lacking details of how the government will improve people’s lives, especially as it is sitting on huge amounts of financial surplus and reserves, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Wu Chi-wai, chairman of the Democratic Party, said government expenditures are unable to help the public share the economic gains while a HK$30 billion plan targeting the elderly and the disabled is short of concrete measures.
The budget shows that the government is not serious about tackling chronic social problems, so the party won’t support it, Wu said.
Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung said his party will vote against the budget, calling it something “proposed by a caretaker government”.
Yeung further criticized the government for putting more weight on infrastructure than public welfare.
Two pan-democratic lawmakers — “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung from the League of Social Democrats and Raymond Chan from People Power — said they are prepared to filibuster the budget at the committee stage of the whole council before the third reading.
Starry Lee, chairwoman of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), called on democrats not to resort to filibustering, saying the effort will be to no avail.
She said the sooner the budget is passed, the earlier the elderly can receive allowances from the government.
The debate continues on Thursday.