Remembering Lee Kuan Yew - Thank you - The nation with you in your final journey - See u in heaven

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew - Thank you - The nation with you in your final journey - See u in heaven
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Friday, 29 May 2015

Budget 2015 - Budget similarities reflect common challenges

Budget 2015 - Budget similarities reflect common challenges


Budget 2015 - Budget similarities reflect common challenges


HONG Kong's latest Budget is strikingly similar in some ways to the Budget handed down in Singapore on Monday, say analysts here.

Hong Kong's Budget includes a generous package for social relief and measures to spur enterprise development, in a bid to address demographic and economic challenges, which Singapore also faces.

The two economies - long seen as regional rivals - both face land shortages and ageing populations, and both are mounting economic restructuring efforts.

In his Budget speech yesterday, Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang announced HK$34 billion (S$6 billion) worth of social relief measures such as tax rebates and extra allowances for social security, care of the elderly and childcare.

UOB economist Francis Tan sees the two Budgets as quite similar in terms of what they try to tackle. "This is unsurprising as the two cities have very similar demographic challenges.

"Both cities have an ageing workforce, with 15 per cent of Hong Kong's population aged 65 years and above compared to Singapore's 8.5 per cent", while under-15s formed only 11.3 per cent of Hong Kong's population and 13.4 per cent here, he said.

Infrastructural development is also a priority. Mr Tsang said the expansion of the Hong Kong
International Airport, including a third runway, will begin next year. Singapore has set aside $3 billion for Changi Airport's fifth terminal.

PwC Hong Kong tax partner K. K. So said: "Hong Kong's financial secretary has attempted to address the limitations imposed by the mismatch of manpower, scarce land resources and the ageing population. But there're also measures to foster industry diversification and support for start-ups."

Singapore's Budget included announcements such as the Silver Support Scheme and SkillsFuture to enhance workforce capabilities.

In a similar measure, Hong Kong will also fork out HK$960 million to subsidise students in 13 undergraduate programmes covering sectors such as tourism.

Mr Tan hopes Singapore will adopt Hong Kong's new inflation-linked retail bonds. An issuance of up to HK$10 billion of these bonds to residents with a three-year maturity was announced by Mr Tsang yesterday.

"I hope to see it happen soon because inflation-linked bonds can better secure the ageing population's purchasing power in the long term."

The Straits Times / Top of The News                        Published on Thursday, Feb 26, 2015

By Wong Wei Han                                                   whwong@sph.com.sg

Budget 2015 - Budget similarities reflect common challenges

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