|Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah has an embarrassment of riches|
Perhaps the most irritating aspect is his strategy of estimating Hong Kong will have a deficit and then instead coming up with an embarrassment of riches.
He had predicted a deficit of HK$3.4 billion but instead it turned into a whopping HK$64.9 billion. That means Hong Kong has fiscal reserves of HK$749 billion, enough to pay for 23 months of expenditures.
This is the second time he's done this. One would have thought by now he'd be better at being closer to the mark, but he seems much too conservative and sheepishly surprised by the unexpected receipts from land premiums, stamp duty, taxes and dividends.
And how does he distribute the money? He thinks he is doing the city a favour by handing out one-offs worth HK$33 billion, such as electricity subsidies (again) and income tax relief on HK$10,000 (again), more handouts for the elderly and such.
Why not do some long-term planning instead and think about the future of Hong Kong? The city seems to be doing much better fiscally compared to other countries around the world. Tsang thinks he is saving for a rainy day, but in fact he has run out of space to hide all the money.
Can we not earnestly tackle the housing problem for the poor once and for all with some effective social housing, subsidies for those with low incomes and young couples looking to buy their first home? And what about having some kind of strategy to help the elderly live out the rest of their lives comfortably since that segment of the population is increasing? And why not help young graduates with technical job training or give them grants to start something new?
But perhaps the most hilarious aspect of Tsang is his perception that he is one of us.
At the post-budget press conference, he said in Cantonese something on the lines of, "I think I regard myself as middle class, and I know how Hong Kong's middle class feel."
After a moment's pause of disbelief, reporters burst out laughing.
Sounds like someone is way off the mark in more ways than one.