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HK's New Budget Widely Welcomed
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Hong Kong government's 2007-2008 budget, giving out the largest handouts since the establishment of the special administrative region, was widely welcomed, said local media Thursday.

Singtao Daily, a local Chinese news paper, said in its editorial that the 20 billion HK dollar (US$2.564 billion) handouts in the new budget make Hong Kong people more united and more confident in the future of the city.

According to the government's new budget presented Wednesday, Hong Kong's tax payers are happily rewarded with salary tax rebate in 2006-2007 up to 15,000 HK dollars and salary tax deduction for the first two quarters of 2007-2008 up to 5,000 HK dollars per quarter.

The daily said most Hong Kong people are satisfied with the budget, which makes their Chinese new year in a happy and harmonious mood. The budget is a win-win plan to reduce tax and at the same time to improve social welfare.

The benefit of the wealth shared by the society will be more than the money itself if it can further stimulate Hong Kong people 's contribution to the society, the daily added.

Wen Wei Po, another local Chinese paper said the new budget announced by financial chief Henry Tang is the most welcomed since Hong Kong's returning to its motherland.

In its editorial, the daily said the budget satisfies Hong Kong people's needs and makes the fruits of economic development shared by common people. The above-trend economic development, the profit increase in the local enterprises and the healthy trading of the stock market contribute to the government's surplus, it said.

And the budget reflects the government's appreciation to Hong Kong people's hard-working spirit in the past three years and mirrors Tang's saying "We shared the hard times and now it's time we share the wealth," it added.

Hong Kong Economic Times, a local economic daily, said the government budget, which shares its surplus with people, has won applause from all walks of life, especially the middle class, though some of the critics think the assistance to the disadvantaged groups are not enough.

However, it said the new budget failed in pointing out the way for future development, especially how to develop the city's infrastructure which is crucial for the city's further economic development.

(Xinhua News Agency March 2, 2007)

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