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Budget Speech

Concluding Remarks

162.    Mr President, as Financial Secretary, my foremost priorities are to promote economic development and to maintain a sound business and employment environment.  Through sustainable development and diversification of the economy, I believe every member of our society will have the opportunity to unleash their potential and realise their aspirations.  This will provide a more solid foundation for the development of our next generation.

163.    I note that some members of the public are wary of any excessive growth in our spending and are worried that Hong Kong will be moving towards welfarism.  I understand their concern.  However, I would like to point out that Government's welfare spendings are meant to help the needy by providing them with short-term relief, so that those capable of working could re‑enter the labour market, make a living on their own, and leave the safety net as soon as possible.  I believe that so long as our society maintains adequate upward mobility channels and a level playing field, people will be able to improve their living through hard work.  Those who are in need today may be able to offer a helping hand and pay back to the community some day.

164.    We have seen examples of governments spending beyond their means in recent years in Europe and America.  This not only undermines the stability of a society but also gives rise to far-reaching consequences for the future.  The community's rising aspirations in an evolving environment will inevitably put increasing pressure on public finances.

165.    A philosopher once said, "Society is a partnership.  It is a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born."  Past generations have laid a solid foundation for economic and financial development in Hong Kong.  I believe that the present generation recognises the importance of fiscal prudence, that is to avoid making today's spending a burden for the next generation.

166.    We are faced with various challenges and choices.  Yet, I have full confidence in Hong Kong people.  Looking back, Hong Kong has gone through many tough times.  In the midst of these ups and downs, we survive the crises, breaking new grounds with our bare hands.  With confidence, we shall be able to meet the challenges that come our way.

167.    "Believe in opportunity, not fate" ― this is the innate mindset of Hong Kong people.  No matter what difficulties we face, we stay positive, optimistic and tenacious.  These unyielding qualities are deeply ingrained in us and form part of our collective DNA.  I believe that, at this crucial point in time, our wisdom and experience will continue to guide us to act with pragmatism and make the best choice for the future of Hong Kong.

168.    Thank you, Mr President.



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