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FS outlines fiscal consolidation plan

In the 2024-25 Budget announced today, Financial Secretary Paul Chan proposed a number of measures to increase revenue and outlined a fiscal consolidation programme which aims to restore fiscal balance in a few years’ time.   Mr Chan said even though the Government strived to reduce expenditure as the COVID-19 pandemic had subsided, the total expenditure for 2023-24 reached $727.9 billion, representing an increase of 36.9% compared with 2018-19, of which operating expenditure rose substantially by 40.2% whereas operating revenue increased only 13.1%.   On capital works, owing to the fact that the Government has been pressing ahead with land and housing supply projects, along with other infrastructure works for improving the environment and people’s livelihood, the average annual expenditure has increased from about $76 billion over the past five years to about $85 billion in 2023-24.   Fiscal reserves have dropped to the current level of $733.2 billion.   Fiscal consoli

HK officials visit Laos

Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Christopher Hui and Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Algernon Yau today met senior Laotian officials during their visit to the Indochinese Peninsula.

 

In Vientiane, Laos, Mr Hui and Mr Yau held bilateral meetings with the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith, Minister of Industry & Commerce Malaithong Kommasith and Minister of Finance Santiphab Phomvihane. Discussion topics included Hong Kong’s recent relaxation of regulations on Laotian talent coming to work, train or study in Hong Kong, the potential for collaboration in financial and commercial services, and Hong Kong’s accession request to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
 

To learn more about Laos’ business environment and explore opportunities for business co-operation, Mr Hui and Mr Yau met representatives from the Lao National Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and the Lao Chinese Chamber of Commerce. Mr Hui also exchanged views with Bank of the Lao PDR Governor Bounleua Sinxayvoravong on ensuring resilience in the financial system and the supervision of financial institutions.
 

Under the theme “ASEAN: Enhancing Connectivity & Resilience”, Laos will assume Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) chairmanship next year. Mr Hui commented that “Hong Kong attaches much importance to our connectivity with places around the world and resilience against various challenges. It is believed that Hong Kong and Laos have huge opportunities for co-operation in economic and financial areas.”
 

He added: “We will make the best use of our positioning as an international financial centre under the National 14th Five-Year Plan by playing the roles of a ‘super connector’ and a ‘super value-adder’. Hong Kong stands ready to provide solutions for Laos and ASEAN to attract international capital to support their projects and development.”
 

Mr Yau said: “Hong Kong offers a business-friendly environment with a simple and low tax system, and a robust financial regulatory regime together with a mature legal system.
 

“With our unique advantages under ‘one country, two systems’, Hong Kong is an ideal gateway for the Laotian business sector to tap into the Greater Bay Area market and participate in the Belt & Road Initiative.”
 

Highlighting that bilateral trade between Hong Kong and ASEAN member states has seen continued robust growth, Mr Yau appealed to the member states, including Laos, to offer their support to Hong Kong’s early accession to RCEP.
 

Before concluding their visit to Laos, Mr Hui and Mr Yau will call on Charge d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Laos Wang Chang tomorrow. Mr Hui will then depart for Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to carry on with his visit to the Indochinese Peninsula. Mr Yau will return to Hong Kong.


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