立法會十二題:財政預算 LCQ12: Budget estimates



以下為今日(二月二十七日)在立法會會議上馮檢基議員的提問和財經事務及庫務局局長陳家強的書面答覆:

問題:

  根據政府最新公布的數字,本年度首九個月(截至二零一二年十二月三十一日)的財務狀況為400億港元的盈餘。據報,本年度的財政盈餘保守估計會超過250億元。該數目與財政司司長去年發表《財政預算案》時估計的34億元赤字大相徑庭。根據《基本法》第一百零七條:「香港特別行政區的財政預算以量入為出為原則,力求收支平衡,避免赤字,並與本地生產總值的增長率相適應」。再者,香港的公共財政體制一直採用審慎理財的原則,政府把公共開支維持於生產總值的20%以下。此外,前任行政長官更在其任內最後一份《施政報告》內明言,香港應該維持公共開支不超過本地生產總值的20%的「財政紀律」。然而,現任行政長官在競選時曾表示,堅守公共開支在一定界線內(即限制公共開支佔本地生產總值的20%),不是實事求是的做法。就此,政府可否告知本會:

(一)根據當局最新的估計,2012-2013年度的公共收入和支出為何;該等估計收支的差額與34億元的預算赤字如何比較;如兩者有巨大差距,原因為何,當中有否刻意低估收入或涉及收支結構的因素;當局會否檢討為何多年來公共收入和支出的預算數字與實際數字均出現巨大差距;

(二)面對多年來財政預算與實際收支出現差距,當局有否評估過去有否出現因低估收入而未能有效運用多出的資源的情況,以及會否由於過去是根據被低估的收入來預算開支,因而錯誤地削減支出或拒絕新增應有的開支項目,以致未能提供足夠的資源應付市民的需要;有否研究上述以低估收入去制訂支出的安排,是否違反《基本法》所載「量入為出」的原則;若有,研究的結果為何;及

(三)現屆政府是否恪守上屆政府把公共開支維持於生產總值的20%左右,以及財政儲備不設上限的理財原則;若是,有否評估這做法是否有違行政長官在選舉時提出的上述倡議;若不是恪守該原則,政府現時的理財原則和政策為何;當局如何在財政政策的制訂和財政儲備的使用上,體現行政長官所提政府要適度有為以發展經濟的施政理念?

答覆:

主席:

(一)財政司司長會在動議二讀《2013年撥款條例草案》時,交代2012-13年度的修訂預算。

  由於政府的財政開支及收入龐大,涉及的項目眾多,預算工作難以絕對精確。預算與結果之間的差距,往往涉及許多因素,尤其外在因素。我們在制訂預算案時,會根據當時所能掌握的資料作出最佳的估算。

  政府收入當中,地價收入、利得稅、印花稅等,波動性較大,特別容易受經濟情況影響,往往不是政府所能預計的。

(二)我們一直按審慎理財、量入為出、應用則用的原則管理公共財政。

  相比2007-08年度的實際開支,2012-13年度預算的總開支及經常開支,將分別有近七成(68%)及三成(33%)的升幅,遠高於同期只得近兩成(21%)的經濟名義增長。2012-13年的工務工程開支預算超過600億元,比2007-08年度增加204%。

  政府近年的開支增長,絕不保守,充分反映政府對社會的長遠承擔。考慮到香港的長遠財政承擔能力,我們有必要嚴格控制我們的開支,尤其是經常開支的增長。政府會堅守量入為出、應用則用的原則。

(三)財政司司長將會在二月二十七日宣讀現屆政府的首份《財政預算案》,當中會闡述政府的理財原則和政策。

2013年2月27日(星期三)

香港時間11時15分

 

Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung and a written reply by the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Professor K C Chan, in the Legislative Council today (February 27):

Question:

According to the latest figures announced by the Government, the financial situation for the first nine months (ending December 31, 2012) of this financial year was that there was a surplus of HK$40 billion. It has been reported that based on a conservative estimate, the fiscal surplus of the current financial year will exceed $25 billion, which is a far cry from the deficit of $3.4 billion estimated by the Financial Secretary when delivering the Budget last year. According to Article 107 of the Basic Law, "[t]he Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall follow the principle of keeping the expenditure within the limits of revenues in drawing up its budget, and strive to achieve a fiscal balance, avoid deficits and keep the budget commensurate with the growth rate of its gross domestic product (GDP)". Furthermore, the principle of managing public finances prudently has all along been adopted in the fiscal system of Hong Kong, under which the Government maintains public expenditure at a level below 20% of GDP. Besides, the former Chief Executive (CE) even stated clearly in the final Policy Address during his term of office that Hong Kong should maintain the "fiscal discipline" of keeping public expenditure at a level not exceeding 20% of GDP. However, the incumbent CE has stated during the election that it is not practical to maintain public expenditure firmly within a specific limit (i.e. to limit public expenditure to 20% of GDP). In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the public revenue and expenditure for 2012-2013 according to the authorities' latest estimation; how the difference between revenue and expenditure estimations compares to the budget deficit of $3.4 billion; if there is an enormous discrepancy between the two, of the reasons for that and whether there is a deliberate under-estimation of revenues or whether factors of revenue-expenditure structure are involved; whether the authorities will review the reasons for the wide gaps between the estimates and the actual amounts of public revenue and expenditure over the years;

(b) in the face of the discrepancies between budgetary estimates and actual amounts of revenue and expenditure over the years, whether the authorities have assessed if there had been ineffective use of the surplus resources due to under-estimation of revenue in the past, and whether expenditure had been wrongly cut or addition of required items of expenditure rejected due to the expenditure being budgeted on the basis of the under-estimated revenue, which resulted in a failure to provide sufficient resources to meet the needs of the public; whether they have examined if the aforesaid arrangement of setting expenditure on the basis of under-estimated revenue violates the principle of "keeping the expenditure within the limits of revenues" enshrined in the Basic Law; if they have, of the outcome; and

(c) whether the Government of the current term observes the financial management principle of its predecessor that public expenditure should be maintained at a level of around 20% of GDP and no upper limit is set for fiscal reserves; if it does, whether it has assessed if such practice violates the aforesaid advocacy put forward by CE during the election; if it does not observe that principle, of the Government's principle of and policy on financial management at present; how the authorities realise, in their formulation of fiscal policy and utilisation of fiscal reserves, the principle of governance advocated by CE that the Government should be appropriately proactive to promote economic development?

Reply:

President,

(a) The Financial Secretary will give an account of the revised estimates for 2012-13 when he moves the second reading of the Appropriation Bill 2013.

The Government expenditure and revenue involve huge sums and cover a large number of items. It is difficult to estimate with accuracy. The difference between the estimate and actual figures is invariably the result of many factors, particularly external ones. In preparing budget, we will compile the best estimates on the basis of the information available at the time.

Among different sources of government revenue, land premium, profits tax and stamp duties are particularly volatile. They are very susceptible to economic changes which are often beyond our capacity to estimate.

(b) We have always been managing public finances in accordance with the principles of fiscal prudence, keeping expenditure within the limits of revenues, and committing resources only where justified.

The estimated total expenditure and recurrent expenditure in 2012-13 have increased by 68% and 33% respectively over 2007-08, substantially exceeding the nominal GDP growth of only 21% during the same period. The estimated capital works expenditure in 2012-13 is over $60 billion, an increase of 204% over the year 2007-08.

The increase in government expenditure in recent years is by no means conservative, which is a testimony to the Government's on-going commitment to the community. Taking into account Hong Kong's fiscal affordability in the long term, we must strictly control the growth of our expenditure, especially recurrent expenditure. The Government will adhere steadfastly to the principles of keeping expenditure within the limits of revenues and committing resources only where justified.

(c) On February 27, the Financial Secretary will explain the Government's fiscal management policy and principles in the context of presenting first budget of the current-term Government.

Ends/Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Issued at HKT 11:15



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