This week has been most eventful for Hong Kong politics, with two more candidates formally announcing their bid for Hong Kong government’s top job of Chief Executive, bringing the race from two running and two assumed to four candidates formally running.
My next project at the Lion Rock Institute is to analyse the economic policy of those contending for Chief Executive, with the successful candidate leading the government of Hong Kong from July this year. While it was assumed both John Tsang and Carrie Lam would run for Chief Executive, their public announcements this week had significant importance as they are seen as the two most likely candidates to win the election.
Neither outlined their economic policy initiatives during their announcement speeches so my research has been limited to analysing the history of both candidates. They are included alongside Regina IP and Woo Kwok-hing who are also running. John Tsang with his celebrity-like status here in Hong Kong, was until last month the Financial Secretary and is the candidate who is closest to LRI’s mandate of free market public policy
One of the most astounding factors of the government here in Hong Kong is that as written in the constitution, the government is to run a balanced budget. Despite having one of the lowest income taxes in the world at 15% and no tax on dividends or capital gains, the surplus is large enough that it could continue to operate without taking on new debt or collecting a single dollar in taxes for two years! In contrast to the norm of unsustainable fiscal policies and burgeoning government debt, Hong Kong leads the way on responsible government budgets!
I was fortunate enough this week to have lunch with Bill Stacey, board member and one of Lion Rock’s directors. It was great to hear Mr. Stacey’s perspective and insights on finance, economics and business in the Asian region. This brings me to one of the best points about interning at the Lion Rock Institute and living in Hong Kong; every week you can count on meeting the most interesting and thought provoking people!
Over the weekend I enjoyed a day trip with Lion Rock alumni Wilson Li to Macau, one hour jet-boat from Hong Kong. While neither of us was selfless enough to make a donation to the casinos (gamble), we did see some tourist attractions and indulge in the best coffee in Macau! Walking the streets and observing everyday life and business was what I enjoyed most of visiting Macau. Known as the Vegas of Asia, the former Portuguese colony is also rich in its own unique Asian-Euro fusion of culture!