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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

Waste bag materials clarified

The Environmental Protection Department today clarified that to reduce the use of raw plastic, designated bags for Municipal Solid Waste Charging must be made of at least 20% recycled plastic, adding that it has already taken into consideration the durability of the bags and the principle of environmental protection.


In response to recent media reports and online discussions concerning the material for manufacturing designated bags, the department explained that all plastics claimed to be degradable require specific environments and temperatures, such as exposure to ultraviolet light or high temperature, to be completely degraded.


However, the department also pointed out that these conditions are absent in the anaerobic environment of the landfills in Hong Kong, therefore it takes a long time for plastics to decompose in the landfills.


Moreover, some degradable plastics, particularly oxo-degradable plastics, are in fact less environmentally friendly, as they will fragment into microplastics when they break down in the natural environment such as the ocean, exacerbating the harm to the environment while hindering recycling.


The use of oxo-degradable plastics has been banned in places like the European Union.


In Hong Kong, the manufacturing and sale of oxo-degradable plastic products will be banned starting April 22, the department added.

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