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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

LegCo passes third reading of 2023-24 Budget bill

LegCo passes third reading of 2023-24 Budget bill

The Legislative Council on Wednesday passed the third reading of the 2023-24 Budget bill with 82 votes for and one abstention, as Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said the government would strive for the economy and exercise the city’s systemic advantages to the fullest.
Speaking to the media in the afternoon, Chan recalled his Budget, which predicted a 3.5 to 5.5 percent economic growth, and noted authorities are now updating the latest figures, which will be released by mid-May.

“Over the past few months, Hong Kong has welcomed many tours from the mainland and overseas since the full border reopening, as well as some business representatives. The overall atmosphere is proactive.

“If the external political-economic trend does not worsen, we have faith that the annual economic growth can tip towards the high end,” Chan said.

The finance chief added many visitors flocked to Hong Kong during the Labor Day golden week holidays and expected more and more travelers would come to the SAR.

He pointed out that Hong Kong was cut off from other places during the Covid pandemic in the past few years and caused many misunderstandings. He hoped visitors could come in person to experience how the city is now thriving.

Chan said the past year was difficult, and the situation worsened in 2023, including the China-U.S. relationship, the Russia-Ukraine war, and geopolitical conflicts, leading to risks like climbing inflation rates and interest rates.

The markets were also impacted by a wave of U.S. banks closing. Chan also referred to the estimations by the International Monetary Fund that the U.S. will only expect a 1.6 percent economic growth this year and Europe will perform worse.

Chan said the SAR government must have risk awareness and solutions to react to impacts brought by external circumstances.

He added the city has mutual consent to help existing industries by developing innovation and technology, such as artificial intelligence, biotech, and new energies.

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