SCMP Friday, March 9, 2001


It's not an awful mess: new chief

THE SUCCESSOR by SUSAN SHIU

Financial secretary-designate and Executive Councillor Antony Leung Kam-chung said he did not consider the estimated $11.4 billion deficit for 2001-02 an "awful mess".
Mr Leung, who will take up the post of financial chief in May, listened patiently to Mr Tsang's speech with fellow Exco members in the Legislative Council public gallery. He praised it as "a well-balanced and a very realistic" Budget, saying Mr Tsang had taken various aspects into consideration.
Asked what he felt about being handed a budget deficit, Mr Leung said: "It is not an awful mess. Such problems exist and we have to face them.
"We hope to listen to the general public so that we can cope with it."
Mr Leung dismissed suggestions of a possible tax increase in the wake of the deficit and said the Government should first study whether the deficit was a short-term or long-term problem.
He also praised Mr Tsang's performance as Financial Secretary and said he had a lot to learn from him. "I hope I can learn from him so that we can produce a Budget that meets the expectations of the community," Mr Leung said.