Hong Kong announces 15-bln-USD stimulus package to prop up economy
Paul Chan (2nd L), financial secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, attends a press conference in Hong Kong, south China, Feb. 24, 2021. Hong Kong will roll out counter-cyclical measures worth over 120 billion Hong Kong dollars (15.48 billion U.S. dollars) this year to prop up its economy reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, the senior HKSAR official said when delivering the annual budget on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Lui Siu Wai)
HONG KONG, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong will roll out counter-cyclical measures worth over 120 billion Hong Kong dollars (15.48 billion U.S. dollars) this year to prop up its economy reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, a senior HKSAR official said when delivering the annual budget on Wednesday.
Speaking in front of members of the Legislative Council, Paul Chan, financial secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, said this year's budget focuses on stabilizing the economy and relieving people's burden, and seeks to create a leverage effect to benefit individuals and enterprises.
The 2021-22 budget came after Hong Kong's economy slipped 6.1 percent last year, with the latest jobless rate spiking to 7 percent. The government in response has committed a total of nearly 300 billion Hong Kong dollars for relief measures.
Given the lingering COVID-19 spread, "our most urgent task is to contain the epidemic and press ahead with the vaccination program," Chan said. "So that people and businesses can be back on track, and safe traveling between Hong Kong and the mainland as well as the rest of the world can be resumed as soon as possible."
Chan forecast that Hong Kong will resume positive growth this year, with an increase of 3.5 percent to 5.5 percent in real terms, but still cautioned the economy will hinge on the epidemic development.
Challenges are still looming in the first half, but as long as joint efforts are made to control the epidemic and social stability is maintained, the recovery will likely gain a stronger momentum in the second half, Chan said.
The stimulus package included reduction of taxes and fees worth 9.5 billion Hong Kong dollars for businesses, an extended financing guarantee scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises, a job training program to benefit 20,000 people, and creation of 30,000 temporary jobs.
Individuals will have tax breaks, subsidies on power charges, social security allowance, favorable personal loans, and 5,000 Hong Kong dollars of electronic consumption vouchers.
In his speech, Chan highlighted the significance of the national development to Hong Kong's economy, saying the global financial hub will enjoy opportunities from the national dual circulation development strategy, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development and the Belt and Road Initiative.
He predicts Hong Kong's economy will likely grow by an annual average of 3.3 percent in real terms from 2022 to 2025. (1 U.S. dollar equals about 7.75 Hong Kong dollars) Enditem[ Editor: Zhang Zhou ]