Mr President, Honourable Members and fellow citizens,
I move that the Appropriation Bill 2018 be read a second time.
2. At the start of the Chinese New Year, I deliver the first Budget of the current-term Government with a thankful heart.
3. Over the past few weeks, the public has engaged in extensive discussions and expressed diverse opinions on the Budget. I am indebted to you all, and appreciate fully that various sectors of the community have different needs and aspirations.
4. The preparation of this year's Budget has enlightened me in many ways. Budget consultation has revealed once again the wide-ranging, diverse and even conflicting demands within the community. At the same time, it has brought me closer to the public, enabling me to see things from the perspective of the people whom I serve, so that I could consider how best to use the resources pooled from them to meet their needs and those of Hong Kong. Therefore, in preparing the speech, I have placed much emphasis on explaining, in a more systematic way, the Government's priorities in using public resources, as well as our visions for the future, development direction and financial planning.
5. The initiatives put forward in this Budget are underpinned by three main objectives: (1) Diversified economy: we have to diversify our economy to create wealth for Hong Kong and provide wider and better development opportunities for our young people. (2) Investing for the future: the outbreak of winter influenza has reminded us once again of the pressing need to improve healthcare services; an ageing population poses challenges which need to be overcome by deploying resources and making early preparation; and we also need to improve our living environment to make Hong Kong an ideal smart city to work and live in. (3) Caring and sharing: children and young people should be given more care, protection and opportunities; middle-class families need relief from financial burdens, while the grassroots and underprivileged require more support. Besides, a fulfilling life calls for not only materialistic improvements, but also better quality of life and spiritual enrichment.
6. In reality, no abundance of resources would ever enable the Government to satisfy the needs of all. It is my responsibility to take care of various sectors of the community. While addressing the pressing needs, I must also be proactive, innovative and bold in investing for the future of Hong Kong. I will elaborate on this in the ensuing parts of my speech.