Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po has issued warnings about possible trouble in the global economy, with countermeasures planned if Hong Kong is hit by the impact of US President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies.
In a blog post on Sunday, Chan wrote that he was considering rolling out “balanced and suitable” policies – to be announced in his maiden budget later this month – to ensure the city remained stable even if the world economy became turbulent.
Chan wrote that Hong Kong, as a small economy, could not “lower its guard”, and “must constantly watch out for changes” in the outside world.
“Recently, many people have suggested to me that the government should make use of its relatively sufficient financial reserves to introduce short-term measures to alleviate everyday financial pressures faced by people. Many have also advised me to spend resources on supporting new industries in the long-term,” he wrote.
He stressed that he will take into account all of the suggestions given to him.
On the other hand, SCMP’s financial columnist Jake Van Der Kamp finds that the government consistently understate the reserves. He writes that the financial secretary failed to include HK$848 billion of the savings of other statutory bodies and investment profits to the reserves of HK$915 billion at the latest count.
“I doubt that you ignore your own investment profits when totting up how much you are worth. All of our financial secretaries, however, have done so when reckoning the public’s savings.
“It is also miserly where it could spend to good effect but often a wastrel where it does use the money,” writes the columnist. He points out that there are better social uses for the money the city has, seeing as how we’ve overspent on public sector construction projects in recent years.