Dollars and sense

Dollars and sense

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Hong Kong's budget will be unveiled on Wednesday, writes Lai Ying-kit. Additional reporting by Cathy Chan and Anson Mok

The city's financial position is expected to have improved from last year, thanks largely to a recovering economy that narrowed its budget deficit. But with a wide range of groups anxious to receive new injections of revenue, it is still an uneasy task for Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah (far right) to draw up this year's annual budget.

On February 24, Tsang will unveil his blueprint in the Legislative Council. The proposal sets out how the government will allocate its resources to every key aspect of life, from infrastructure, education and environment, to arts, sports, entrainment and more.

The budget is also where you will learn about plans for tax rises, the introduction of new levies, or in the case of an economic recession, relief measures, temporary waivers or tax rebates.

However, as always, officials come under pressure in the months leading up to the release of the proposal from groups calling for extra aid for a particular class of people.

Young Post asked its junior reporters to talk to teenagers and ask them what they would like to see in the budget for the coming year.

Rachel Mok, 17

I wish the budget could focus more on education. A well-planned education policy is essential for the well-being of all students and for the future development of Hong Kong. Education is the key to improving a society in whole.

Chiang Yuk-chun, 16

I hope the government will increase funding to promote sports. The city needs more new sports grounds and upgrades for existing venues. Our success in last year's East Asian Games has shown we can achieve good results. We should take this opportunity to bring sports to a new level.

Jane Sung, 17

We should raise taxes on owning private cars to encourage the use of public transport and cut gas emissions. I think air pollution has reached a worrying level. On most days of the year, we see "serious" air pollution alerts. We need to step up our efforts to clean the air.

Lo Hiu-tong, 16

I think the tax rate should not be raised at this stage. It would be beneficial to most Hongkongers if the level stayed where it is. Surveys have found that Hong Kong taxpayers are happy because of the low tax rate.

Christopher Chiu, 14

I expect this year's budget to be frugal because Hong Kong has not yet recovered from the financial crisis. However, necessary policies should be set, such as anti-poverty measures and health reforms. I would like to see more resources poured into Hong Kong's scientific research. Eco-science will be one of the hottest topics in the future.

Tin Wai-chung, 15

I would like to see the government lend a helping hand to the middle class. Officials always lose sight of the fate of middle-class people. The government should spend more money to help them, for example, by giving financial aid for them to buy flats.

Tsang Man-hang, 15

I think the government should spend more money on an internet subsidy for students from low income families. Nowadays, studies rely heavily on the internet. It is clear that the internet is important for students to learn efficiently and comfortably.

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