Hong Kong this year will be at a critical stage, presented with both danger and opportunities, therefore the outlook for the city is uncertain, says Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po.
As such, Chan, who warned a week ago that Hong Kong’s economic growth could weaken further this year after a significant drop in the last quarter of 2018, believes light green is the most suitable color to represent the city’s current situation, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
In a post on his official blog on Sunday, Chan was seen in an attached photo holding his budget speech whose cover was light green. He is scheduled to deliver the 2019-20 budget this Wednesday.
Chan said he chose light green because Hong Kong is like fertile soil, but people still need to sow, irrigate and work hard to plow it in order to reap a good harvest.
The finance chief said he had to face many different challenges when preparing for the budget each year, and that consulting stakeholders for their views during the preparation process was necessary.
However, he noted one thing that needed no extensive consultation and could be decided internally by the government itself was what color should be used for the cover of his budget speech.
Chan said whereas the color of red was used last year to signify that the global economy looked bright, light green can reflect better what the government is feeling at the moment about the economic environment.
In a blog post on Feb. 17, Chan said the government will need to support companies, keep jobs, stabilize the economy and improve people’s livelihood this year.
According to media reports, the financial chief will unveil several measures in his budget speech on Wednesday, including a one-time grant of HK$2,000 in cash for each of the students from low-income families based on a means testing mechanism as seen last year.
The Hospital Authority is expected to get an additional HK$600 million for its recurrent expenditures, and there are rumors that over HK$500 million is reserved for the refurbishment of more than 200 public toilets across the territory.
Also, a fund will be set up for the transitional housing program, the rumors said.
Some political parties and civil groups went to the government headquarters in Admiralty on Sunday to submit their proposals regarding the coming budget.
A group called the Kowloon West New Dynamic urged the government to return the salaries tax to employees with an upper limit set at HK$40,000 while the Society for Community Organization asked the government to provide universal retirement protection and an electricity bill subsidy of HK$2,000 for every low-income family.
Lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun, who represents the social welfare functional constituency, told RTHK’s City Forum on Sunday that instead of giving cash handouts, the government should raise the level of public expenditure as a portion of GDP and increase recurrent expenditure to help solve social problems, including those pertaining to healthcare, social welfare and education.
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