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'Finance mega infrastructure projects with caution'

2023-01-26 HKT 18:28
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  • 'Finance mega infrastructure projects with caution'
The New People’s Party on Thursday called on the government to spend carefully on major infrastructure projects over the next two decades, saying officials must ensure Hong Kong's economy is capable of funding impending developments.

The caution came after the group set out an array of budget demands to Financial Secretary Paul Chan, who will deliver his next budget speech on February 22. Chan recently warned of a deficit of at least HK$100 billion for the fiscal year 2022-23.

Speaking after meeting the financial chief, party chairwoman Regina Ip said authorities must ensure Hong Kong's economy can afford to finance massive developments, such as the Northern Metropolis, Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands and various planned rail projects.

“The government needs to calculate very carefully, over the next 20 years, the amount of funding required for infrastructure, whether our economy has the capacity to cope with it. Because with so many projects taking place at the same time, that would push up construction costs, labour costs, project management costs,” she said, adding that officials should set priorities for their spending.

Ip, who's also the Executive Council convenor, spoke against dishing out a fresh round of consumption vouchers, contrary to calls made by several other political parties.

Hongkongers received a HK$10,000 handout last year and HK$5,000 the year before, but Ip said the vouchers were simply relief measures and the government has a responsibility to spend its money prudently.

She said officials should consider scrapping the double stamp duty imposed on residential buyers except for first-time purchases.

Among other measures, she urged authorities to reduce the stamp duty on stock transactions to 0.1 percent, while raising the football betting duty from 50 percent to 80 percent.

The party also repeated its earlier call for new parents to be given HK$20,000 as a "baby bonus", as well as for a HK$50,000 subsidy to Hongkongers for freezing their eggs or sperm.

'Finance mega infrastructure projects with caution'