HKU POP SITE releases findings of a follow-up poll on the BudgetBack


Press Release on April 6, 2004
 

The Public Opinion Programme (POP) at the University of Hong Kong today releases on schedule via the "HKU POP SITE" (http://hkupop.hku.hk) a follow-up survey on people's reactions towards the Budget. In the past many years, POP has conducted instant polls after the head of the government delivered his Policy Address, or after the Financial Secretary delivered his Budget Speech. Such instant polls, which measure people's instant reaction to the policies, would be followed weeks later by our follow-up surveys, which measure people's more matured reaction. We believe this is a better way to study public opinion on these issues. The Budget instant poll this year has already been released quite some time ago, while the findings of the follow-up survey are released today. Results of the two surveys are summarized below:

 
  Instant poll Follow-up Poll Latest Change
 Date of survey 10/3 22-24/3 --
 Sample base 1,023 1,015 --
 Overall response rate 64.7% 67.8% --
 Sampling error of percentages (at 95% conf. level)* +/- 3% +/- 3% --
 Appraisal of Budget: Satisfaction rate**# 37% 32% -5%
 Appraisal of Budget: Dissatisfaction rate **# 12% 18% +6%
 Satisfaction rate with the government's strategy in monetary arrangement** 18% 18% --
 Dissatisfaction rate with the government's strategy in monetary arrangement** 29% 41% +12%
 Proportion of respondents agreeing to FS' saying that "the economic outlook for 2004 was rather bullish, and a steady growth was envisaged for the subsequent four years." 47% 45% -2%
 Proportion of respondents disagreeing to FS' saying that "the economic outlook for 2004 was rather bullish, and a steady growth was envisaged for the subsequent four years." 35% 33% -2%
 Proportion of respondents agreeing to FS' principle that "market leads and government facilitates" 60% 58% -2%
 Proportion of respondents disagreeing to FS' principle that "market leads and government facilitates" 15% 18% +3%
 Proportion of respondents agreeing to FS' proposal of "no further increases in salaries tax, profits tax or any other taxes, and no tax reductions or rates adjustments" 79% 71% -8%
 Proportion of respondents disagreeing to FS' proposal of "no further increases in salaries tax, profits tax or any other taxes, and no tax reductions or rates adjustments" 14% 18% +4%
 Proportion of respondents agreeing to FS' proposal of issuing bonds at value not exceeding $20 billions in 2004-05, in order to raise funds and invest in capital projects 66% 66% --
 Proportion of respondents disagreeing to FS' proposal of issuing bonds at value not exceeding $20 billions in 2004-05, in order to raise funds and invest in capital projects 14% 15% +1%
 Perceived that the government could achieve consolidated and operating balances by year X^ 39% 35% -4%
 Perceived that the government could not achieve consolidated and operating balances by year X ^ 36% 38% +2%
 Perceived the tax system in Hong Kong to be fair ** 58% 58% --
 Perceived the tax system in Hong Kong to be unfair** 31% 31% --
 Perceived the distribution of wealth in Hong Kong to be reasonable** 22% 23% +1%
 Perceived the distribution of wealth in Hong Kong to be unreasonable** 62% 62% --

* "95% confidence level" means that if we were to repeat a certain survey 100 times, using the same questions each time but with different random samples, we would expect 95 times getting a figure within the error margins specified.
** Collapsed from a 5-point scale.
# Excluding respondents who had not heard of the Budget. Because of the smaller sample size, the sampling error has increased accordingly.
^ Different wordings were used in this question for the Budget instant polls of 2002, 2003 and 2004. The corresponding questions were: "The Financial Secretary reported the government had operating deficits for four consecutive years, and his target was to achieve consolidated and operating balances by 2006/07. Do you think the government can achieve this?" (2002); "The Financial Secretary said that he would keep his target set last year, which was to achieve consolidated and operating balances by 2006/07. Do you think the government can achieve this?" (2003); and "The Financial Secretary said that his target was to achieve consolidated and operating balances by 2008/09, meaning that the target set by the former Financial Secretary would be deferred by two years. Do you think the government can achieve this?" (2004).

 

Results of the follow-up survey obtained in late March revealed that, after excluding those respondents who said they had not heard of the Budget, 32% were satisfied with it, whilst 18% were dissatisfied. Meanwhile, of the 1,015 respondents, 18% were satisfied with the government's strategy in monetary arrangement, whereas 41% were not.

 

In terms of FS Henry Tang's analysis of Hong Kong's economy, 45% agreed with him that "the economic outlook for 2004 was rather bullish, and a steady growth was envisaged for the subsequent four years", whereas 33% disagreed. Besides, 58% agreed Tang's principle of "market leads and government facilitates", as contrast to 18% who held the opposite view. As regards the specific proposals suggested in the Budget, 71% welcomed the proposed measures of "no tax increases, no tax reductions and no rates adjustments", whilst 18% did not. As for Tang's suggestion for the Government to issue bonds at value not exceeding $20 billions in 2004-05, in order to raise funds and invest in capital projects, 66% agreed with such proposal, whereas 15% disagreed.

 

When asked if the respondents thought the government could achieve consolidated and operating balances by 2008/09, 35% believed that the government could do so, whereas 38% took the opposite view. On the other hand, 58% considered Hong Kong's tax system to be fair, whilst 31% considered it unfair. As for the distribution of wealth in Hong Kong, 23% considered the distribution reasonable, compared with the 62% who considered it unreasonable.

 

Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme, made these comments: "This morning, the NPC Standing Committee has once again interpreted the Basic Law. This made our survey on the Budget rather trivial. Nevertheless, we stand by our responsibility to release our findings on schedule. Put it simple, over the last two weeks, there was not much change in people's satisfaction with the Budget, and their receptiveness of the major proposals surveyed. People's reaction was not as good as that for the first Budget prepared by Antony Leung Kam-chung, but far better than his second one. All in all, this year's Budget could be described as mediocre, judging from people's reaction."

 

POP's normal practice is to release the results of our regular surveys every Tuesday at 2 pm via our POP Site, except during public holidays, each time with a forecast of the items to be released in the forthcoming week. We will review and adjust this operation regularly. According to this schedule, the date and time of our next release will be April 13 2004, Tuesday, at 2 pm, the latest ratings of CE Tung Chee-Hwa, Principal Officials under the accountability system and other members of the Executive Council will be released.

 

Shall anyone have any question regarding the research design of the surveys published in the POP Site, members of the POP Team will be happy to answer them, but we will not further comment on the findings. Shall any person or journalist have any other questions, please email them to us at <[email protected]>. The Director of Public Opinion Programme would answer them as soon as possible. We will keep such an arrangement under constant review, suggestions most welcome. Please note that everything carried in the POP Site does not represent the stand of the University of Hong Kong. Dr Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme, is responsible for everything posted herewith, except for column articles which represent the stand of their authors.