At a special meeting held by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council a few days ago, members were concerned about whether electronic consumer coupons would continue to be distributed in the next financial year. It may not be that easy to see.”
In his blog post on Sunday (January 16), he quoted some reasons for opposing the continued distribution, including "the amount involved is huge, and public resources should be used more targetedly" and "I believe that people will reduce their consumption outside the home during the epidemic, so that consumption will be reduced." Vouchers are limited.”
In addition, Chen Maobo also stated in his blog that "different people's approaches to solving problems can be very different, and many times they may not be able to reach a consensus", so the authorities "can only explain more" and "seek the support of the majority of citizens" ".
At the same time, he also believes that "Once any relief measures "strive to be precise" and focus on a certain group of target audiences, it is easy to cause a backlash due to "differential treatment". On the contrary, if the measures achieve "universal benefits", they may also be subject to It is regarded as insufficient care for vulnerable groups," and called on all parties to understand "to strive for better results within a range that is more acceptable to everyone."
The Liberal Party advocates that the government send 5,000 to 10,000 yuan of electronic consumer vouchers.
(Photo by Zhou Haoyi)
It is necessary to face up to the role of consumer vouchers in relief
In fact, since the consumer voucher program began to be discussed the year before last, officials of the Hong Kong government have been taboo against calling it a "relief" measure directly, but have always focused on its role in boosting local consumption, boosting economic sentiment or encouraging electronic payments.
Even in his speech at the consultation meeting and his latest blog post, Chen Maobo deliberately distinguishes electronic consumer vouchers from other one-time relief measures.
On the other hand, most Legislative Council members and the general public tend to regard it as a "relief" measure. Even though its "general benefit" nature may not be effective against vulnerable groups, not many people would deny that it has always helped the grassroots to tide over difficulties. .
From the perspective of the governor, the ultimate goal of promoting consumption, stimulating the economy and directly assisting the "bailout" should be to improve people's living standards.
Now that consumer vouchers have been proven to have both the aforementioned effects, before discussing whether the "relief" measures should "strive for precision" or "benefit universally", the SAR government must first face up to the fact that consumer vouchers are also "relief" measures, and do not This can be covered up again through the so-called "explanation".
As for the implementation of the Consumer Coupon Program to strike a balance between "strive for precision" and "universal benefit", the direction of the government's discussion should also be how to adjust the recipients and amount of distribution, and study how to make more needy recipients receive more benefits. More favors, rather than completely denying the entire plan because of choking and cutting feet to avoid criticism.
For example, the authorities can consider allowing grassroots citizens with lower incomes to obtain a larger amount of consumer coupons, or provide higher discounts or subsidies for grassroots consumer items.
Chen Maobo summarized the work of the whole year, especially the consumer coupon program.
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Progressive tax increases should be on the agenda
On the other hand, although Chen Maobo also tried to oppose the re-distribution of consumer coupons on the grounds of huge government expenditure, effective use of public funds, and preservation of financial strength, he has admitted that the deficit in this financial year is not as serious as originally expected, which shows that the Hong Kong government is currently reasonable. It can still withstand the financial pressure brought about by the continued implementation of consumer coupons.
Taking a step back, even if the fiscal deficit turns out to be too large to support a new round of consumer vouchers or other "bailout" measures, the government still has the option of implementing redistribution by raising taxes on the wealthy to increase treasury revenue.
If the Hong Kong government is really worried that "relief" measures such as consumer vouchers will cause financial pressure or cannot be distributed fairly, then it can greatly increase taxes on the wealthy to make up for these problems.
Oxfam recently released the report "Inequality Kills", which pointed out that the two-year epidemic has severely exacerbated the global disparity between rich and poor, and 99% of the world's poor have further reduced their incomes and are in crisis. Governments should immediately impose permanent progressive taxes on wealth assets and then invest in public measures to eliminate social and economic inequality, especially for Hong Kong, where the Gini coefficient has been chronically high.
Looking at Chen Maobo's blog last year, there are more than a dozen articles promoting the consumption coupon program. In August, an article "Government for the People" even described consumption coupons as "benefiting the most citizens, the most merchants, and the resources available." All the measures are circulated in the local economy.” He also claimed that the implementation of the plan should “think what the people think and relieve the people’s difficulties”, and “promote in the direction that the citizens can feel, share and benefit from.”
If there is no change in his judgment of the consumer coupon program, then he should continue to try to maintain and improve this good deed, and don't look for excuses to avoid responsibility.
The Hong Kong government should no longer overestimate the deficit and avoid tax hikes