Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hong Kong's Budget Bests Singapore's

THE LION ROCK INSTITUTE PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Peter Wong;
Peter.Wong@lionrockinstitute.org (+852) 8101 2112
Alternative Contact: Nicole Alpert; Communications@lionrockinstitute.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

24 February 2010

Hong Kong's Budget Bests Singapore's

The government's sliding approval was surely given a boost today by the Hon. Finance Secretary John Tsang. The Budget thankfully bore few surprises and reinforced Hong Kong's unique foundation, built upon the principle of "big market, small government."
Examining the Budget, The Lion Rock Institute would like to comment briefly on the following items: the HOS Scheme, the Development of Financial Services, and the Stamp Duty.

The HOS Scheme

• Co-Founder of The Lion Rock Institute, Andrew Shuen Pak-man said, "[He's] glad the government has decided not to revive the HOS scheme, despite tremendous pressures from the left, right, and center.”
Development of Financial Services

• Lion Rock commends the government's focus on reinforcing Hong Kong's position as a Financial Centre. However, there are worries that other jurisdictions' finance rules might be copied unnecessarily. Further, the government should work to streamline processes for licenses and setting up business, further aiming to attract business and talent.

Stamp Duty Increase

• In response to the increase, Executive Director of Lion Rock, Peter Wong said, "The government's actions concerning stamp duty will not be effective to curb future speculation if it is only applied to flats over HKD$20 million. Under the new scheme, investment costs for luxury flats will be increased by 35% up to 90% – this will not affect properties under HKD$20 million – and therefore the scheme will not help ‘non speculators,’ those people who want to own a home.”

• Communications Manager, Nicole Alpert said, "HK Land Policy presents an issue problematic enough that the details set out here only tinker at the margins."
Briefly, The Lion Rock Institute would also like to applaud the government for not raising the Tobacco Tax despite external pressures.

Shuen said in conclusion, "if [the government] was to be graded on a curve, this Budget would receive an 'A'. The government's Budget looks especially good when compared with Singapore's, which was announced Monday."

Hong Kong is a unique place for many reasons, and benefits from its foundation. However, there are worries about losing Hong Kong's freedoms and attitudes changing. If Hong Kong firmly sticks to its principles, maintaining its good foundation, it will succeed. A reversal on Hong Kong's core values is the biggest single threat to Hong Kong.

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