Opinion

理財新哲學:增開支,房屋醫療問題僅略提

香港政府預計本年度財政盈餘將達到創紀錄的1380億港元,高達GDP的5﹒2%,在此背景下,香港新一屆政府宣布首份預算時目標明確,並以「理財新哲學」形容將會增加支出。

By: Date: March 20, 2018 Topic: Global Economics & Governance

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積穀防饑雖然有必要,但問題的另一面為是否應該無止境地累積儲備。香港政府預計本年度財政盈餘將達到創紀錄的1380億港元,高達GDP的5﹒2%,在此背景下,香港新一屆政府宣布首份預算時目標明確,並以「理財新哲學」形容將會增加支出。從表面數字看來,公共開支實際增長將會從去年的4﹒4%增加至14﹒1%,政府似乎兌現增加支出的承諾,但我們關注的是支出的走向。

公眾對「理財新哲學」的理解似乎與香港兩個最急需處理的社會問題掛勾,即與住房和醫療保健有關,但兩者支出卻只有小幅增加。相反地,教育和社會凝聚的支出佔比大幅增加。此外,走向多元經濟一直是政府的目標,創新科技於今年的預算案的次序甚至處於四大產業(即金融服務、貿易及物流、旅遊和工商業支援及專業服務)前面,但香港政府亦不忘帶來支持金融業的新政策,除了已引起廣泛注意的同股不同權外,還提出補貼首次債券發行人及綠色金融等政策。住房醫療問題上僅蜻蜓點水我們認為支持發展教育及新興行業看起來的確對香港未來有所幫助,然而就香港社會關注的主要問題而言,這顯然令人失望。除了重點關注的領域外,政府似乎更優先考慮安全和行政管理,而不是住房和健康的緊逼問題。具體來說,住房問題的語調與去年相比幾乎毫無變化。

就數字而言,政府維持未來五年內建設十萬間公共房屋的目標。換而言之,新增住宅單位供應量有機會超過新增本地家庭數目,但前提為政府房屋計畫真正實施,尤其是在各種因素不變之下,我們很難認為這次會有所不同。一直以來,實際私人房屋完工量一直以來低於預測值,而上屆政府亦未能兌現建造7﹒5萬個公屋單位的承諾,僅達到6﹒45萬套。

另一個香港逼在眉睫的結構性問題是醫療和人口老化加快,香港65歲以上人口將從2017年的16%升至2030年的26%。我們預計在醫療問題上應該有更強的措施,但這部分的政府支出總額比重卻從14%降至13%。雖然醫療實際支出增長7﹒7%,但這遠低於政府平均支出增長14﹒1%。

金錢並非成功創新的唯一因素

然而,除了香港的融資優勢之外,政府應該明白基建或商業物業並非為研發帶來成功的唯一因素,優秀的人才及創業友好的政策同等重要,甚至更重要,其中一個例子為很難想像初創公司於香港開設銀行帳戶其實極度困難。如果不意識到根本問題,資源只會帶來另一個房地產項目,或是資金沒有分配到真正的創新項目,這使得香港在與深圳競爭處於困境。

總而言之,「理財新哲學」看似放眼未來而非著眼現在。政府增加支持教育、科技創新及金融市場支出,但對於香港時下急需處理的社會問題只採取蜻蜓點水的取態,對於住房和醫療問題基本上毫無作為。


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