HKSAR gov't ramps up stimulus to help firms, residents through economic recession

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, December 5, 2019
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The government of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Wednesday announced more relief measures worth more than 4 billion Hong Kong dollars (about 510 million U.S. dollars) amid ongoing economic hardship.

At a press briefing, Financial Secretary Paul Chan elaborated on all the nine new measures, from reduction of water and sewage services charges to subsidies on power use and instalment tax payment.

"For this round of measures, most of them are targeted towards supporting businesses, especially small and medium enterprises," Chan said, stressing that supporting businesses will help safeguard jobs, which is the number one priority at present.

Chan added that there are also measures designed to benefit individuals, citing the increase in the allowance for people receiving training.

The new package of economic stimulus came as the latest effort of the HKSAR government to help businesses and residents fend off impacts of an economic downturn. A total of 25 billion Hong Kong dollars (3.19 billion U.S. dollars) have been allocated in the altogether four rounds of relief measures adopted since August.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) Staff Mission has expressed support for the HKSAR government's various policies to support the economy and safeguard financial stability in recent months.

Hong Kong economy, already suffering from the lackluster global trade, started to worsen in an unprecedented pace in the third quarter of the year as escalating violent incidents disrupted business activity, scared off visitors and caused severe damages to public and private property.

The unrest in Hong Kong has dealt a heavy blow to the local economy, depressing private consumption and investment and weakening the confidence of global investors, Chan said.

London-based consulting firm IHS Markit said Wednesday in a report that Hong Kong economy is on course for the weakest quarter in 21 years in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Bernard Aw, the principal economist at IHS Markit, said business activity shrank at the steepest rate on record amid the escalating social unrest and predicted a GDP fall of 5 percent in the fourth quarter unless there is a dramatic recovery in December.

The IMF Staff Mission predicted Hong Kong's real GDP will contract by 1.2 percent this year.

Chan warned that more residents will be affected if the violence continues and urged concerted efforts from all sectors of the community to stop violence and restore order so that residents can live a peaceful life again and businesses can operate normally.

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