We need a budget that responds to the angst of HK's youth
Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po presented his budget last Wednesday, with a particular emphasis upon tackling the economic fallout induced by the ongoing pandemic, as well as restoring consumer and investor confidence in the aftermath of the 2019 civil unrest.
The usual critics – Pan-Democrats and opposition politicians – have characterised it as too little, too late in ameliorating the abject poverty induced by the skyrocketing unemployment rates. The budget arrived at a time with unprecedented scepticism and antipathy towards the state – especially amongst the city's youth, many of whom were involved in the pro-democracy social movement and civil unrest over the past few years.
To give credit where credit's due – the budget did allocate sizeable portions to economic stimulus and welfare relief. In balancing the needs for austerity and imminent relief for the poor, the budget was strategically restrained in what could have otherwise been a disastrous curtailing of cash handouts and subsidies to the poor qua austerity measures. The unprecedented loan scheme and tax breaks certainly strike a healthy balance between indulgent welfarism and laissez-faire negligence, whilst equipping the unemployed with the necessary means to seek gainful employment. ...