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Tuesday, October 22, 2019, 17:28
HK unveils fresh relief measures worth HK$2b to boost economy
By Bloomberg
Tuesday, October 22, 2019, 17:28 By Bloomberg

HONG KONG - Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po announced a range of relief measures worth about HK$2 billion (US$255 million) targeting travel agents and the transportation industry in a renewed effort to help Hong Kong’s struggling businesses as the city grapples with the economic fallout of ongoing unrest.

The new measures announced Tuesday aims to help the transportation industry and travel agents, and comes after a HK$19.1b stimulus package unveiled in August

The move comes less than a week after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor unveiled more than 200 initiatives in her annual policy address. Chan had also previously unveiled more than US$2 billion worth of measures in August to help bolster the economy.

READ MORE: HK govt funnels HK$19.1b to help SMEs, low-income families

The following measures were announced at a press conference Tuesday:

  • Widening the scope of a 50% rent reduction announced in an earlier package to include some car parks, restaurants and shops in public properties, worth about HK$600 million

  • A HK$16.5 million (US$2 million) inspection subsidy for commercial vessels

  • Support for travel agents

  • A six-month fuel subsidy for taxis and some minibuses

  • Hong Kong government is in talks with the travel industry over additional relief measures; local media had earlier reported potential air fare and hotel subsidies

Hong Kong’s economy has rapidly deteriorated this year, struggling in the face of ongoing protests in the streets and the US-China trade dispute’s impact on exports, Lam said in her address last week. Advance third-quarter economic growth figures are set to be released Oct 31, likely confirming a technical recession after gross domestic product retreated in the second quarter.

ALSO READ: Financial Secretary: Negative growth in Q3 likely

Lam’s policy speech focused on measures aimed at poorer citizens, including making it easier for first-time buyers to get mortgages on properties, increasing land supply, annual grants for students, as well as more subsidies for public transit.

Chan’s August stimulus package included benefits for both citizens and companies. More recently he’s called on property owners and developers to offer rent relief to struggling retailers, noting that about 100 restaurants have shut down because of the unrest, affecting about 2,000 employees.

The latest economic indicators showed unemployment in the consumption and tourism related sectors climbed to the highest in more than two years for the July-to-September period, according to government data. Small business sentiment remains mired near a record low.

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