HKU POP SITE releases findings of an instant poll on the BudgetBack


Press Release on February 23, 2006

 

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Latest Figures
 

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 survey on people's instant reactions towards the Budget, including the latest figures on the popularity of FS Henry Tang Ying-yen. 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. As a general practice, all figures have been weighted according to provisional figures obtained from the Census and Statistics Department regarding the gender-age distribution of the Hong Kong population in 2005 year-end. Herewith the contact information for various Budget instant polls in the past:


Year of survey Date of survey Overall Sample Size   Response rate   Sampling error of percentages* 
 2006   22/2/06   1,026   68.3%   +/-3% 
 2005   16/3/05   1,041   65.2%   +/-3% 
 2004   10/3/04   1,023   64.7%   +/-3% 
 2003   5/3/03   1,047   71.4%   +/-3% 
 2002   6/3/02   1,041   59.9%   +/-3% 
 2001   7-8/3/01   502   67.1%   +/-4% 
 2000   8/3/00   856   56.4%   +/-3% 
 1999   3/3/99   1,190   62.1%   +/-3% 
 1998   18/2/98   804   54.7%   +/-4% 
* Calculated at 95% confidence level using full sample size. "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. Questions using only sub-samples would have bigger sample errors.

Changes in the popularity figures of Financial Secretary Henry Tang after the announcement of the Budget are summarized as follows:

  Date of survey  1-7/11/05   30/11-5/12/05   3-6/1/06   3-7/2/06   22/2/06   Latest change 
  Sample base  1,003   1,017   1,018   1,015   540-632**   -- 
  Overall response rate  64.6%   62.5%   63.5%   59.5%   68.3%   -- 
  Sampling error of ratings(at 95% conf. level)*  +/-1.4   +/-1.6   +/-1.2   +/-1.2   +/-1.2   -- 
  Sampling error of percentages (at 95% conf. level)*   +/-3%     +/-3%    +/-3%   +/-3%   +/-4%   -- 
  Rating of FS Henry Tang  60.9   61.7   63.2   63.0   63.0   -- 
  Vote of confidence in FS Henry Tang  --   61%   63%   65%   61%   -4% 
  Vote of no confidence in FS Henry Tang  --   9%   9%   8%   6%   -2% 

* "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.
**Starting from 2006, these questions only uses sub-samples of the tracking surveys concerned, the sample size for each question also varies.

The install poll conducted last night showed that, the latest rating of FS Henry Tang who has just announced his Budget was 63.0 marks, with a support and non-support rate of 61% and 6% respectively.

With respect to people's satisfaction with this year's Budget, the figures are summarized below:

  Date of survey  Sampling error of percentages*   Appraisal of Budget: Satisfaction rate**   Appraisal of Budget: Half-half   Appraisal of Budget: Dissatisfaction rate ** 
  22/2/06  +/-4%   50%   26%   19% 
  16/3/05  +/-4%   48%   29%   11% 
  10/3/04  +/-5%   37%   33%   12% 
  5/3/03  +/-4%   20%   23%   50% 
  6/3/02  +/-4%   47%   23%   17% 
  7-8/3/01  +/-6%   57%   25%   13% 
  8/3/00  +/-4%   70%   12%   4% 
  3/3/99  +/-4%   46%   27%   10% 
  18/2/98  +/-4%   55%   20%   7% 

* "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. Figures listed in this table have already excluded respondents who said they did not know the content of the budget. Because of the smaller sub-sample size, the sampling error has increased accordingly. Sub-sample bases can be found in the website.
** Collapsed from a 5-point scale.

After excluding those respondents who said they had not heard of the Budget, this year's instant poll showed that 50% were satisfied with it, 19% were dissatisfied and 26% said "half-half". Because many of the respondents said they had not heard of the Budget during the instant poll, the valid sub-sample of this item was smaller. The sampling error for this question has increased accordingly. With respect to people's specific reactions towards the contents of this year's Budget, relevant findings are summarized below:

  Date of survey  22/2/06 
  Sub-sample base  576-643**  
  Overall response rate  68.3% 
  Sampling error of percentages (at 95% conf. level)*  +/-4%  
    Positive percentage   Negative percentage   Don't know / Hard to say   Total 
  Some opinions suggested that as our economy recovers, the government should increase expenditure or substantially reduce taxes, for example, by restoring the salaries tax bands and rates to their 2002–03 levels. But the Financial Secretary said, 「a government [should manage] public finances prudently and [keep] expenditure within the limits of revenues」, and turned down this suggestion. Do you agree with what he said?  59%   31%   9%   100% 
  The Financial Secretary today proposed to lower the marginal rates of the salaries tax, whereas the rates charge, standard rate of the salaries tax and profits tax would remain unchanged. He said these measures were to 「[Share] wealth with the people within government's capability」. Do you think these tax relief measures are adequate?  37%   53%   10%   100% 
  The Financial Secretary said he would consult members of the community on whether Goods and Services Tax (GST) should be collected, i.e. tax will be charged every time you purchase a product or consume a service. Do you incline to support or object the GST?  37%   58%   5%   100% 
* "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.
** Starting from 2006, these questions only uses sub-samples of the tracking surveys concerned, the sample size for each question also varies.

Henry Tang turned down the suggestion of increasing expenditure or substantially reducing taxes, while he would uphold the principle of "Managing public finances prudently and keeping expenditure within the limits of revenues ", of the 576 respondents, 59% agreed with such idea whereas 31% disagreed. As regards the specific proposals to lower the marginal rates of the salaries tax in order to 「[Share] Wealth with the People」, of the 643 respondents, 37% regarded Henry Tang's tax relief proposals adequate, while 53% thought them inadequate. Besides, 37% of 629 respondents welcomed the proposed measures of Goods and Services Tax, whilst 58% did not. 

With respect to people's satisfaction with the government's strategy in monetary arrangement, together with other relevant issues, the figures are summarized below:

  Date of survey  Sampling error of percentages(at 95% conf. level)*   Satisfaction rate with the government's strategy in monetary arrangement**   Dissatisfaction rate with the government's strategy in monetary arrangement**   Perceived the tax system in Hong Kong to be fair **   Perceived the tax system in Hong Kong to be unfair**   Perceived the distribution of wealth in Hong Kong to be reasonable**   Perceived the distribution of wealth in Hong Kong to be unreasonable** 
  22/2/06  +/-4%   36%   15%   55%   34%   32%   55% 
  16/3/05  +/-3%   29%   15%   59%   27%   29%   51% 
  10/3/04  +/-3%   18%   29%   58%   31%   22%   62% 
  5/3/03  +/-3%   12%   45%   51%   33%   19%   60% 
  6/3/02  +/-3%   26%   21%   55%   29%   25%   52% 
  7-8/3/01  +/-4%   45%   14%   --   --   --   -- 
  8/3/00  +/-3%   60%   9%   --   --   --   -- 
* "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. Sub-sample base for each questions varies and can be found on website.
** Collapsed from a 5-point scale.

Findings showed that 36% of the respondents were satisfied with the government's strategy in monetary arrangement, whereas 15% were dissatisfied. Meanwhile, 55% of the respondents considered Hong Kong's tax system to be fair, 34% viewed it unfair. As for the distribution of wealth in Hong Kong, 32% perceived the distribution reasonable, whereas 55% considered it unreasonable.

Commentary

Robert Ting-Yiu Chung, Director of Public Opinion Programme, analyzed, 「All in all, people's reaction to Henry Tang's third Budget is quite positive, but Tang's popularity has not changed much because of the Budget. People generally support the notion that government should "manage public finances prudently within the limits of revenues", but most do not think the tax relief measures announced yesterday are sufficient for the government to "share wealth with the people within its capability". Compared to last year's findings, the proportion of people satisfied with the government's fiscal policies and those who considered Hong Kong's tax system to be unfair have both significantly increased. Mainstream opinion in the past many years shows that people generally consider the distribution of wealth in Hong Kong to be unreasonable, a problem for the government to carefully look into.」

News about POP

POP's normal practice is to release the results of our regular surveys every Tuesday afternoon via our POP Site, except during public holidays, each time with a forecast of the items to be released in the next 7 days. According to schedule, our next release of regular survey findings will be February 28, 2006, Tuesday, between 1pm to 2 pm, the latest popularity figures of CE Donald Tsang and people's appraisal of the performance of the HKSAR Government will be released.

Our general practice is to answer all questions on the research design of the surveys published in the POP Site as soon as we receive them, but we will not further comment on the findings. We welcome questions for follow-up purpose, please email them to us at <[email protected]>. 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 POP, is responsible for everything posted herewith, except for column articles which represent the stand of their authors.

Starting this year, we have included a small educational section for the purpose of general civic education, the content of which was based on previous questions and comments we have received from the public. The subject of our education section today is still "About HKUPOP".

About HKUPOP

The operation of Budget instant survey 2006

HKUPOP was established in 1991, we began our Policy Address instant surveys in October 1992. In February 1998, we expanded our instant surveys to cover the Budget Talks, and our operation has not been changed since then. 「Instant survey」 is conducted on the same day soon after the Policy Address or Budget is announced, and is used to test the immediate reactions of the people. If any mass media sponsors the survey, its results would be released immediately, even on a real time basis. Otherwise, we generally announce the findings on the following day. Below is an outline of our operation for the Budget instant survey of 2006:

  • After the HKSAR government announced the date of Budget Talk, we started our planning for the instant survey.

  • About one month ago, we began to keep track of news about the Budget, in order to lay the ground work of questionnaire design.

  • About one week ago, we began our manpower deployment. 

  • On Budget Day, we monitored the media and the Internet, including the entire Budget Talk and subsequent press conferences, and then drafted the questionnaire.

  • Random telephone interviews began at 6 p.m. on the Budget Day, involving nearly 50 interviewers and staffs. The interviews finished at 10 p.m., after collecting 1,026 samples.

  • Data verification and quantitative analyses followed immediately, together with the drafting of the press release.

  • On the following day, the survey findings were verified again, when the content of the POP Site and press release were proof read. The results would be released after everything was complete.



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