Evolving coronavirus situation to put pressure on economy: HK financial secretary

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/11/15 14:29:51

Photo: VCG

If the coronavirus situation continues to evolve, the Hong Kong economy will be under pressure once again, according to Hong Kong Finance Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po.

The COVID-19 outbreak is showing a resurgence in Hong Kong, resulting in renewed social dis-tancing curbs. The key to stabilizing the local economy is handling the epidemic and resuming customs clearance with the Chinese mainland as soon as possible, Chan said in a post on Sunday.

The local economy shrank 3.5 percent in the third quarter, easing from a 9-percent decline in the second quarter. It snapped a decline for the fifth consecutive quarter.

In the first three quarters of the year, the city's economy shrank 7.2 percent. "Our full-year fore-cast for the economy has also been revised to a contraction of 6.1 percent from the previous 6-8 percent decline," Chan said in the post, cautioning against the impact on the economy of the virus' resurgence.

As of midnight on Saturday, the city reported eight additional confirmed infections, bringing the total confirmed cases to 5,444, the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health an-nounced.

Chan called for strict precautions to prevent imported cases while striving to eliminate local transmission. Some observers have suggested that mandatory quarantine is not workable, but the reality is that a continuation of outbreaks is not feasible for either the economy or people's liveli-hoods, and a difficult choice ought to be made, he wrote, noting that mandatory quarantine, albeit temporarily inconveniencing local residents, is the option with the highest "performance price ratio" among all available options.

Many examples in foreign countries have proven that opening up too soon fails to reboot the economy or to contain the disease, eventually at the cost of people's health and lives, Chan stressed. 

Political in-fighting has led to an outburst of serious violent and unlawful incidents and even paralyzed the operation of the city's Legislative Council (LegCo), bringing many aspects of the city to a standstill, he said, hailing the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress's decision concerning the qualifications of members of LegCo as in line with the national security law, which "anchors and escorts" Hong Kong's stability and smooth development.

Four LegCo members were recently disqualified after the country's top legislature set the HK lawmakers' criteria.

The mainland, for its part, is shown to be effectively containing the epidemic, with its economy on track to expand by 1.9 percent this year before gaining 8.2 percent next year, according to IMF estimates. 

The central government has just announced the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and its long-range objectives throughout 2035, mapping out the nation's growth path and providing enormous opportunities for Hong Kong's development, Chan pointed out, adding that the positioning of the city can better integrate it into national development and breath fresh air into the economy 

Newspaper headline: Evolving epidemic to put pressure on HK economy


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