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HK Financial Secretary Rules Out Tax Rise in Budget

If economic situation allows, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government will not raise taxes in the March 16 Budget, Financial Secretary Henry Tang said Saturday.

Tang made the remarks while attending a budget forum to listen to public views on his forthcoming budget.

Tang said in view of a revival in the economy, revenues in a number of areas, such as land sales, are better than expected.

It is normal that the public will have expectations, which have made this year's budget preparation more difficult than last year, he said.

However, the government should not be over-reliant on non-recurrent income to pay for recurrent expenditure, he added.

Most of the targets laid down in the last budget have been met, including the creation of more job vacancies. Up to now more than 130,000 jobs have been created.

He said he understands the thinking of the middle class and requests to cut taxes are still being considered.

Tang said he will adopt a pragmatic approach in preparing the budget and the target to achieve fiscal balance by 2008-2009 remains unchanged.
(Xinhua News Agency February 20, 2005)

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