Hong Kong News

Nonpartisan, Noncommercial, unconstrained.
Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024

Fewer budget handouts are a blessing in disguise for Hong Kong

Fewer budget handouts are a blessing in disguise for Hong Kong

Increased dependence on the government lets it off the hook for not getting on with addressing the city’s deep-rooted problems. Now without the balm of handouts, the government has to take on the painstaking work to revive our economy and support households with children.

The budget Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po delivered last week might have been the most challenging one for him yet. Chan became financial secretary when the city had huge reserves, which afforded him the leeway to pay for crowd-pleasing measures, such as the consumption vouchers that came to save the day during the Covid-19 pandemic’s darkest days.

By harping on our finite resources and budget deficits, Chan has in the past done reasonably well to manage people’s expectations. But the tactic has become less convincing.

Even with the government handing out HK$5,000 (US$640) consumption vouchers, on top of other “sweeteners” such as tax allowances, the general consensus is that this year’s budget is just a “better than nothing” budget.

The handouts drew on coffers fattened by previous administrations. But with our falling revenues and a negative economic outlook, they have become increasingly unaffordable.

In 2020, Chan called the handout an “exceptional measure taken in the light of the current unique circumstances”. The situation has changed, even if households and businesses are still struggling.

Perhaps this is also a “blessing in disguise” budget. It’s a good thing that the government can no longer rely on handouts in lieu of coming up with better policies. At the end of the day, giving money to the people isn’t sound or sustainable public finance management.

The truth is that we simply cannot pass out money every year like it’s candy at Halloween. We need to get unhooked from our sugar dependence. Resources are limited and should be better allocated to support those who need it most.

Prolonged sweetener measures, such as having the government pay for part of our utility bills and government rates for years, have side-effects. We become dependent on the government and this dependence helps mask the real issues. The cost of living in Hong Kong is simply unaffordable for most people, and we let the government off the hook for not getting on with addressing the city’s deep-rooted problems.

Now with fewer handouts available to soothe the pain of our cost-of-living issues, the government will be forced to look at why, for example, the child allowance rate is not nearly high enough.

Recent data shows that births in the city fell to a record low of 32,500 last year. Until the government gets serious about addressing the needs of families with young children and crafting policies that support work-life balance, career advancement for mothers and childcare services that can provide real incentives for young families, our birth rate will continue to drop.

Hong Kong’s current struggles do not have simple fixes. The government is learning the hard way that things don’t magically happen at the snap of one’s fingers, and there are corners that simply cannot be cut.

Let the latest fiasco over the Top Talent Pass Scheme – which offers successful candidates a two-year visa – not requiring applicants to declare of any prior criminal convictions be yet another lesson of the ramifications of poorly planned and hastily executed policies.

A tourist poses for a photo at a residential area in Hong Kong on February. After three years of Covid-19 standstill, rebooting the economy will take time.


It takes time to reboot our economy. It takes time for the tourism industry to recruit people to run tours and drive coaches. The city’s brain drain is a human resources nightmare across most sectors. We are playing catch-up and struggling to undo the damage of the last three years.

Chan’s launch of the “Happy Hong Kong” campaign is a distraction at best. We are now throwing money at organising gourmet festivals and food fairs for our happiness.

Bingeing our way to happiness does not seem like a way forward at all. We really shouldn’t be kicking our budget sweetener cravings so we can bury ourselves in comfort food fests after being overworked, exhausted by what it takes to raise a family in this environment.

Newsletter

Related Articles

Hong Kong News
0:00
0:00
Close
It's always the people with the dirty hands pointing their fingers
Paper straws found to contain long-lasting and potentially toxic chemicals - study
FTX's Bankman-Fried headed for jail after judge revokes bail
Blackrock gets half a trillion dollar deal to rebuild Ukraine
Steve Jobs' Son Launches Venture Capital Firm With $200 Million For Cancer Treatments
Google reshuffles Assistant unit, lays off some staffers, to 'supercharge' products with A.I.
End of Viagra? FDA approved a gel against erectile dysfunction
UK sanctions Russians judges over dual British national Kara-Murza's trial
US restricts visa-free travel for Hungarian passport holders because of security concerns
America's First New Nuclear Reactor in Nearly Seven Years Begins Operations
Southeast Asia moves closer to economic unity with new regional payments system
Political leader from South Africa, Julius Malema, led violent racist chants at a massive rally on Saturday
Today Hunter Biden’s best friend and business associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden met in Georgetown with Russian Moscow Mayor's Wife Yelena Baturina who later paid Hunter Biden $3.5 million in so called “consulting fees”
'I am not your servant': IndiGo crew member, passenger get into row over airline meal
Singapore Carries Out First Execution of a Woman in Two Decades Amid Capital Punishment Debate
Spanish Citizenship Granted to Iranian chess player who removed hijab
US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell freezes up, leaves press conference
Speaker McCarthy says the United States House of Representatives is getting ready to impeach Joe Biden.
San Francisco car crash
This camera man is a genius
3D ad in front of Burj Khalifa
Next level gaming
BMW driver…
Google testing journalism AI. We are doing it already 2 years, and without Google biased propoganda and manipulated censorship
Unlike illegal imigrants coming by boats - US Citizens Will Need Visa To Travel To Europe in 2024
Musk announces Twitter name and logo change to X.com
The politician and the journalist lost control and started fighting on live broadcast.
The future of sports
Unveiling the Black Hole: The Mysterious Fate of EU's Aid to Ukraine
Farewell to a Music Titan: Tony Bennett, Renowned Jazz and Pop Vocalist, Passes Away at 96
Alarming Behavior Among Florida's Sharks Raises Concerns Over Possible Cocaine Exposure
Transgender Exclusion in Miss Italy Stirs Controversy Amidst Changing Global Beauty Pageant Landscape
Joe Biden admitted, in his own words, that he delivered what he promised in exchange for the $10 million bribe he received from the Ukraine Oil Company.
TikTok Takes On Spotify And Apple, Launches Own Music Service
Global Trend: Using Anti-Fake News Laws as Censorship Tools - A Deep Dive into Tunisia's Scenario
Arresting Putin During South African Visit Would Equate to War Declaration, Asserts President Ramaphosa
Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Launches 'Project Disclosure' to Unearth Information on UFOs and ETIs
Typo sends millions of US military emails to Russian ally Mali
Server Arrested For Theft After Refusing To Pay A Table's $100 Restaurant Bill When They Dined & Dashed
The Changing Face of Europe: How Mass Migration is Reshaping the Political Landscape
China Urges EU to Clarify Strategic Partnership Amid Trade Tensions
The Last Pour: Anchor Brewing, America's Pioneer Craft Brewer, Closes After 127 Years
Democracy not: EU's Digital Commissioner Considers Shutting Down Social Media Platforms Amid Social Unrest
Sarah Silverman and Renowned Authors Lodge Copyright Infringement Case Against OpenAI and Meta
Why Do Tech Executives Support Kennedy Jr.?
The New York Times Announces Closure of its Sports Section in Favor of The Athletic
BBC Anchor Huw Edwards Hospitalized Amid Child Sex Abuse Allegations, Family Confirms
Florida Attorney General requests Meta CEO's testimony on company's platforms' alleged facilitation of illicit activities
The Distorted Mirror of actual approval ratings: Examining the True Threat to Democracy Beyond the Persona of Putin
40,000 child slaves in Congo are forced to work in cobalt mines so we can drive electric cars.
×