Leading accountancy firms have suggested the government consider broadening the tax base given its growing expenditure and possible budget deficit in the coming years. The top firms agree the city will record a hefty budget surplus worth tens of billions of dollars for the current financial year. But they are divided, to the tune of HK$100 billion, on the projection for 2013-14. The government's medium-range forecast last year estimated a surplus of HK$3.8 billion for 2013-14. But Jennifer Wong Wan How-yee, a tax partner at KPMG China, said the next budget could go into the red because of the government's huge spending spree on infrastructure and relief measures in the next year. Wong said the government could be looking at a deficit of HK$45.9 billion by the end of March next year. "Our forecast is not being pessimistic," she said, noting the new living allowance for elderly people would cost an additional HK$6.2 billion, among a list of new initiatives and increased capital expenditure. Yvonne Law Shing Mo-han, a tax partner at Deloitte, took the opposite view, predicting a budget surplus of HK$55 billion. "We estimated GDP growth could reach 4 per cent in the coming year, as compared to 2.5 per cent for the current year," she said. "We cannot see a drastic decrease in revenue or significant increase in expenditure. Our prediction will be slightly better than the HK$50 billion this year."
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