20% HK residents to benefit from a $2.4b economic support package for SMEs and families

Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/15 22:21:18

The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) unveiled an economic package worth HK$19.1 billion ($2.44 billion) on Thursday to bolster the city's enterprises and residents to cushion the impact of recent unrest as well as external pressure.

A total of 27 kinds of government fees will be waived for a year, said Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, a move to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get through the current difficulties. The favorable policy involves multiple sectors including maritime, logistics, catering, tourism and construction, said Chan during a press conference held Thursday. 

The local government also unveiled support for households by providing electricity subsidies of HK$2,000 for each household. Around 1.43 million taxpayers will benefit from this concession, exempting HK$1.84 billion in total.

The financial secretary noted the economic support package is expected to add 0.3 percentage point of growth to the SAR's economy.

Hong Kong's sluggish economy has been seriously damaged by recent incidents. Hong Kong will face a severe economic situation in the remaining months of the year amid the difficulties both from within the SAR and external pressure, said Chan.

"So far, 29 countries have released tourism warnings about Hong Kong," said the secretary.

Data showed that trips made to Hong Kong increased by 150 percent year-on-year in the first five months of 2019, yet the growth rate tumbled to 8.5 percent in June. Since the middle of July, trips have declined. The decline was 31 percent at the beginning of August on a yearly basis.

Chan King, vice president of the Hong Kong Chinese Importers and Exporters Association, told the Global Times Tuesday that Hong Kong's major industries have been hugely harmed in the past two months due to "splits" in society.

"At the moment, the local economy has been hit to the bone, especially SMEs," said Chan.

The Hong Kong government has adjusted the full year's expected GDP growth rate down from the previous 2 to 3 percent to 0 to 1 percent.

It is scheduled to release its second-quarter economic data and forecast on Friday.

The SAR's economy grew 0.5 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, the weakest rate in a decade.


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