In the last budget speech, Finance Minister John Tsang promised to subsidise electricity bills again.
The logic of this HK$1,800 subsidy runs counter to common sense, especially when he insists that the government is "promoting the development of environmental industries and a green economy through multi-pronged policies and initiatives," which specifically include "enhancing building energy efficiency and promoting the use of energy-saving household appliances by legislation."
Does John Tsang really think that Hong Kong residents will be persuaded to save energy by making their electricity bills cheaper?
I for one will not be spending a cent on electricity, given that my annual expenditure on electricity is lower than his proposed subsidy. This makes me ashamed of living in Hong Kong. I will not be paying for the electricity I use, and yet my money will still end up in the pockets of utilities shareholders through the taxes I pay. Taxpayers’ money is effectively being used to subsidize energy waste, instead of providing much needed environmental protection programs or reducing emissions.
The electricity subsidy runs counter to all the empty slogans that the government is using in its public education campaigns. Unless virtuous behaviour is rewarded, and wasteful behavior actively discouraged we will not see any real changes.
Electricity should be subjected to higher taxation to reflect the true environmental cost of its production. Cheap electricity will only lead to waste. The government should stop using the excuse that this subsidy will help low-income families. Poverty cannot be alleviated by allowing low-income families to keep the TV on all day and setting their air-con on freezing temperatures. If the intention is to help low-income families, then measures should be targeted for their benefit alone.