Financial Secretary Paul Chan says he looked into providing tax deductions for residents who are renting their properties for the annual budget, but it was not feasible this year.

“If we do that, the computer system at the Inland Revenue Department has to be adjusted. We have to consider operational details, and consider whether there will be room for problems,” he said during a joint radio programme on Thursday.

During a joint TV programme on Wednesday night, he said that the tax forms “had already been printed” and thus it was not feasible.

Paul Chan. Photo: LegCo.

On the radio show, he also said the government considered conducting an electricity fee waiver: “But from an environmental viewpoint, we do not agree very much with an electricity fee waiver for all,” he said, adding that the government will provide additional subsidies for low-income families.

Chan said around 40 per cent of the record high HK$138 billion surplus would be given back to the public in different ways. For instance, citizens who benefit from the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance will receive two months worth of subsidies.

The budget did not provide significant measures for solving issues related to the property market.

A public housing estate under construction in Cheung Sha Wan. File Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

“Housing prices are currently rising. If we help fresh graduates – who have limited financial capability – to enter this rising property market, we will be causing them to receive ticking bombs,” he said.

“We do not feel this is appropriate. If the property market changes, it will have a huge impact on them.”

2018 budget in full:

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.