The Hong Kong government complains bitterly that the pandemic is forcing it to run a deficit, and this is unsustainable, and maybe taxes will have to go up – otherwise how can we afford civil servants’ mega-pensions and the Lantau Vision Giant Sandpit Tomorrow Scheme Plan? And yet, come Budget time, it does what any administration must do if it has zero legitimacy but bulging fiscal reserves: it flings money around like dung flying off a high-speed fan.
Highlights here (and here if you want the whole thing).
The headline-grabbing conscience-salver is a HK$5,000 handout to every resident. They could just send us all the cash, or at least supermarket coupons. But oh no – that would be too easy. The payments will come in monthly HK$1,000 chunks, because why spoil the peasants with a whole five grand in one go? And it will have to be spent via a special but unnanounced space-age e-payment system requiring recipients to provide their own blockchain, download the Leave Home Safe app, and pass Beijing’s NatSec anal swab loyalty test. It’ll probably take until summer to organize. Way to piss off the old grannies, guys.
From there on it all goes downhill.
The answer is ‘HK$500 million’. The questions are ‘how much to chuck at cronies to vandalize country parks in the name of tourism?’ and ‘how much to earmark (it’ll never be used) to attract tech talent to replace everyone fleeing NatSec horrors?’ (Is ‘glamping’ the new ‘food trucks’? Yes. Thank you.)
In addition to the ‘glamping’ stuff (it apparently means panty-wetting inadequates spending a night in a tent), there’s another HK$765 million plus plus plus to ‘revive’ tourism. (By ‘tourism’, we mean retail property landlords’ rental incomes.)
Barely heard of a couple of years ago, National Security now features everywhere, and that includes the Budget. The HK$8 billion non-recurrent appropriation isn’t enough for an aircraft carrier. Maybe it’s going on special How to Spot Subversives fun activity packs for primary schools, or simply funding Beijing’s local NatSec Lubianka Office. And then there’s the rest of it.
Most moronic thing I found after flicking through the Budget stuff for three minutes: subsidies to attract real estate investment trusts to list in Hong Kong. Because they sounded cool a decade ago, I guess. Oh, and the inevitable ‘green bonds’.
Main reaction to the Budget is a sort of nostalgia for the good old days when officials would regurgitate this repetitive tripe year after year, and we all took it semi-seriously because it seemed Hong Kong had a future.
For those of you who loathe the Government, why don’t you have a mass gathering where you burn the cash/coupons/charge cards?
You’ll show us that you are morally sound (by refusing the sweetener) AND you’ll piss off the powers that be (the money is not going to enter the economy for their mates to shortly afterwards bank). You could even make associated videos for overseas distribution where the background noise is David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’.
https://www.budget.gov.hk/2021/eng/pdf/e_appendices_a.pdf – see page 13 on unfunded liabilities
Civil Services Pensions HKD1.003217 Trillion
The image of the single-use poly on FS desk blows the Green boat out of the water.
The $5,000 e-vouchers is just a crude attempt to force conversion to ID Octopus cards.
In addition it is an impediment to folk who usually pass their cash handouts over to charities and the needy in a l;ump sum.
Of course they don’t want fair elections. This budget would never get approval from a Legco that has the public interest at its core.
As Financial Secretary, Paul CHAN earns some HKD 4.3M per year. In closing his budget speech, Paul CHAN remarked “I know how difficult it is to earn a living during the economic downturn. I can feel their pain.” How on earth is that possible?
Paul Chan…he of the intimidating teenaged classmates of his children at international school Paul Chan?
Totally agree with your question.
But these people do not “earn”, rather they are “paid”. “Earn” connotes,something of worth and fair recompense.
Indeed, the libellous he of the illegally subdivided flats ownership, and he of the dodgy “it’s a total coincidence that I just happen to own the land I’m planning to develop on as the development Secretary” scandal. The guy the muppet regime thought “yeah he’s a straight arrow and good with money – we’ll put him in charge of the treasury. What could possibly go wrong?”
Big Al: may I put that question to him on tomorrow’s Backchat?