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PRESS RELEASE

(Source : Government Information Centre)

FS' transcript on estate duty

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Following is the transcript (English portion) of the media session by the Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, on the abolition of the estate duty at the lobby of the Central Government Offices (West Wing) this afternoon (June 17):

Question: Are you disappointed by the rejection from the Legislature?

Financial Secretary: When I first proposed the abolition of the estate duty, the purpose is to enhance our position as an international financial center and to strengthen the wealth management and asset management business. It will create employment and strengthen our economy. The House Committee has reservation regarding the timetable being too tight. I can understand why they have such reservation because our original intention is upon the abolition of the estate duty, many of the functions for the probate can be done by either the lawyers, accountants or bankers. But in this case, during the Bills Committee Stage, many of the members felt that these functions should continue to be performed by the Government. We have accepted those proposals and suggestions and therefore the timing became very tight. So this is the major reservation. However, it will make no material difference to the community and the wealth management business because what we are proposing to do is to use the next several months to deal with and resolve the technical problems. Upon the resumption of LegCo sitting in October, we will introduce it to LegCo for second reading debate and third reading. But it will have retrospective effect back to July. So it will have no material difference to the community and the industry.

Question: Are you confident that the proposal will be passed when it is re-tabled?

Financial Secretary: I am confident that the community supports the abolition of the estate duty in order to enhance our position as an asset management center.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript)

Ends/Friday, June 17, 2005

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