During the past year, Hong Kong has returned to normalcy after the epidemic. The society and the daily lives of our people are back to normal, as they have longed for. Visitors are returning, and our economy is regaining positive growth.  A series of mega events have helped to restore a buoyant mood in the community.

Meanwhile, geopolitical uncertainties and high interest rates have impacted capital flows. Resumption of outbound travel, changes in consumption patterns and a shift in inbound visitors’ preferences, along with competition from other economies, and so forth, have all weighed down economic confidence.

Amid a complicated and ever-changing international environment, and with our economy and society constantly evolving, more strenuous efforts are required to strengthen the momentum of our economic recovery. While the uneven pace of recovery across industries merits our attention, there are also certain constraints that need to be unravelled in a gradual manner.

Innovation and technology, as well as data empowerment, will catalyse the emergence of new business models; however, they will also heighten competition and pose challenges to many enterprises. Through vigorous promotion of innovative research and transformation of its outcomes, as well as acceleration of digital transformation in recent years, we are well-equipped to navigate the changes.

Underpinned by our country’s firm and steady development, our institutional advantages under “one country, two systems” and our highly international characteristics, Hong Kong will attract yet a bigger pool of talent, capital and enterprises. I have absolute confidence in Hong Kong’s future.

Our public finances, nevertheless, need consolidation as the epidemic subsides. Upon a full and thorough evaluation, we will adopt a fiscal consolidation strategy to narrow our fiscal deficit progressively towards achieving the goal of restoring fiscal balance.

The theme of this Budget is: “Advance with Confidence. Seize Opportunities. Strive for High-quality Development.” I will elaborate on this a little later.

This is the English translation of the opening remarks in Financial Secretary Paul Chan’s Budget Speech, delivered on February 28.


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