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Chief Executive Donald Tsang

Fulfilling job:  Speaking on a radio talk show, Chief Executive Donald Tsang tells listeners his Policy Address aims to make Hong Kong a better place for us all to live.

Legislative Council

The Legislative Council's main functions are to enact laws, control public expenditure, and monitor the work of the Government.

Financial Secretary

The Financial Secretary's primary responsibility is to assist the Chief Executive in overseeing policy formulation and implementation in financial, monetary, economic, trade and employment matters.

CE's job not easy, but rewarding

October 15, 2010

Chief Executive Donald Tsang says in developing his Policy Address, he took time to consider what is most important to Hong Kong in the years ahead, to make it "a better place for us all to live".


Speaking on a radio talk show this morning, he said: "I believe this is one of the last occasions I have in my working career to do that."


The centrepiece of his address this year is the My Home Purchase Plan, an alternative to the former Home Ownership Scheme which he described as "HOS Plus". He staunchly defended it.


"Hong Kong is a very strange place, in that it is a small territory in terms of area. We have seven million people living on it, and we reserve half of it as a green belt, making sure we have air to breathe. So we are really a congested and confined place.


"Land is precious. For that reason, our real estate prices can go well beyond what ordinary people, the working class, can afford.


"Whether we like it or not, for the last half century or so the Government has been intervening in the market, producing public housing estates."


While this ensures everyone has a roof over their head, the challenge now is to help people who are not eligible for public housing to buy their own flat.


"I want a steady, stable market, where everyone can plan ahead and either rent or buy whatever they want. I want a harmonious community, and that must be anchored on having a satisfactory place to live and raise a family," Mr Tsang said.



HOS drawbacks addressed

Two main drawbacks to the former HOS scheme were that it did not help provide a means for would-be home owners to amass a down payment, and it was hard for them to move into a better flat later as they had to pay a hefty premium upon selling.


My Home Purchase Plan enables them to save for the first instalment and enables them to sell their flat without requiring a premium payment. The plan's critics are not the ones the plan is targetting, he said.


"Young married couples looking for some place to buy and facing the difficulty of finding the first sum of money to go into that market, these are the people we have catered for," he said. "Ask them."


To those who worry the proposed 5,000 flats a year for the plan will not be enough, he gave assurances the Government would find land for more.


Middle-class assistance

When a caller asked whether the Government could consider adjusting the cap on residential mortgages, so young middle-class home owners could more easily trade up, the Chief Executive said he would convey the idea to the Financial Secretary.


Another caller asked whether more low-priced flats could be exempted from stamp duty, not just those priced at $2 million or less.


"Stamp duty is major revenue source for the Government," Mr Tsang said, adding it was one of the instruments to stop excessive speculation in the market. 


"You have to do it very carefully if you want to relax certain things. I do take the point for certain classes of  property, speculation is less significant, and there might be some room, but this is a matter for the Financial Secretary to consider."


Article 23 legislation deferred

When asked why he had agreed to defer enacting legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law, the Chief Executive was candid.


"This is usually the sort of thing done federally, not regionally," he said. "Over my term, I do not believe we have gotten over the ill feeling started by the last episode. I do not think any effort on our part will bear fruit. When we do this and get it through, we must convince people it is good for Hong Kong and good for our nation. I do not think I can do this now, as I do not think I have support in the community nor in the Legislative Council."


Overall, Mr Tsang was satisfied with what he has achieved as Chief Executive.


"I look at what I promised to do in 2007, I look at all the promises I made each day. Not all are completely fulfilled, but I did a pretty good job. Being the Chief Executive will never be an easy job, but it is a rewarding job."