The finance secretary for Hong Kong has stressed the need for more resources to accelerate economic recovery in the upcoming budget.

In addition, Paul Chan Mo-po said one of the principal objectives of the 2023-24 budget was to maintain a forward-looking vision to boost Hong Kong’s economic revival.

During the government’s budget consultation exercise on Sunday, the finance secretary said: “Looking to the year ahead, the external environment will still be complex and challenging. But as our connections and exchanges with mainland China and the rest of the world gradually return to normal, Hong Kong’s economy is likely to gather steam again.

“When preparing for the 2023-24 budget, we will, on the one hand, continue to strive for stabilising and stimulating the economy as well as easing the pressure on members of the public and businesses; and on the other, plan for Hong Kong’s long-term development and allocate resources appropriately.”

Chan added that Hong Kong’s economy was forecast to contract by 3.2% this year, with a deficit surpassing HK$100 billion forecast for 2022-23, South China Morning Post reports.

The government stated total 2022-23 expenditure was estimated at HK$807.3 billion, a 16.4% increase from the year before, in part due to heightened spending on health, education and social welfare.

Officials also stated revenues stemming from profits tax and salaries tax in 2022-23 would likely be lower than the prior forecast of HK$715.9 billion.

Nevertheless, Chan said Hong Kong’s business sector was becoming more upbeat about next year’s economic outlook but cautioned: “We still need to be careful about the uncertainty brought about by rapid changes in market expectations and investment sentiment.

“When society is gradually returning to normal, and the economy is becoming more stable, many residents still hope more relief measures can take up a considerable part of the countercyclical measures.”

The finance secretary continued: “But, as the economy is progressing toward revival, we also have a pressing need to inject more resources to ride on the momentum of the revival to speed up pushing economic development so as to achieve speedier, more powerful, and more reliable social and economic development for Hong Kong’s future.”

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