ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Hong Kong's staggering surplus earmarked for ageing population

Senior citizens are expected to account for 26.4% of the population by 2036.

The government forecasts that Hong Kong’s staggering fiscal surplus may be used to prepare for a future with decreased productivity levels due to the city’s rapidly ageing population.

“And apart from economic development, we need to use our surplus wisely to prepare for the future. Ageing society is a pressing issue that has to be tackled,” said Finance Secretary Paul Chan who was quoted in a press release. 

The proportion of citizens aged 65 and older is projected to account for over a fourth (26.4%) of the population by 2036, according to a report from the Census & Statistics Department. 

Mr Chan added that the government needs to strike the right balance between short-term relief measures, rebates and long-term community needs in utilising its substantial surplus.

For long-term investment, the government is mulling using the surplus to invest in the innovation and technology sector. 

“This will help across-the-board many industries in enhancing their competitiveness. And innovation and technology alone can be a substantial industry, bringing quality jobs for people,” he added. 

Hong Kong’s surplus is originally estimated at $16.3b for FY2017/18 but accounting firms are providing staggering estimates with EY estimating a $160b surplus, PwC taking a less modest forecast at $168b and KPMG estimating it to fall within a $150b to $180b range amidst the government's steady income stream from land premiums and stamp duty.

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