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Giving Our Community a Respite

73.      Last year's Budget contained a number of specific proposals to raise revenue and relieve the pressure on our fiscal deficit. The understanding and support of the community together with Members of this Council have enabled the successful implementation of nearly all of these measures and I am most grateful for that. With the exception of the second phase of adjustments in salaries tax, property tax and profits tax for unincorporated businesses, which will apply from the 2004/05 year of assessment, these measures have already come into effect. Upon full implementation, they will generate nearly $13 billion annually in additional revenue for the Government.

74.      In this year's Budget, I propose no further increases in salaries tax, profits tax or any other taxes. This respite will allow the Hong Kong community and our enterprises to regather their energy. It will also create conditions favourable for a sustained economic recovery. I understand that some members of the community would like me to reduce taxes. However, owing to our tight fiscal position at present, there is really no room for major tax reductions.

75.      As for rates, I have decided to maintain the charge at 5 per cent. Since rateable values fell by an average of 8 per cent last year, the amount of rates payable for the vast majority of premises in the coming year will be lower. Not counting the effect of the rates concessions for the third quarter of last year, we expect that over 90 per cent of ratepayers will see an average reduction of 11 per cent in their rates bill next year.

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2003 | Important notices
Last revision date : 10 March, 2004