Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah yesterday hit back at critics who said his budget last week was too conservative, warning that the next generation would suffer if he "spent extravagantly for the sake of applause".
He emphasised the 16 per cent increase in government spending over the next financial year, saying it was rare for a government anywhere to be lifting expenditure.
Tsang told the RTHK programme Hong Kong Letter that maintaining financial prudence was the first responsibility of the financial secretary.
"I must make sure taxpayers' money is used in the right way," he said. "If I spend the surplus extravagantly for the sake of applause, not only will our generation suffer - the next generation will have to suffer."
Wednesday's budget received a mixed reception. A university poll found that its approval and disapproval rating were both about 30 per cent. Tsang insisted he was "not disappointed" by criticism that the financial plan lacked "new ideas".