After months of social unrest and even violence, Hong Kong’s economy has already been severely damaged. With the spread of the novel coronavirus now casting a shadow over the city, it seems we are suffering from one shock after another.
With fighting the epidemic as a top priority, it is imperative for the Government to take immediate action, while working with people from all walks of life to overcome this hurdle and seek long-term measures for economic revitalization.
The Government earlier announced the establishment of an epidemic prevention and anti-epidemic fund. To prioritize the urgent needs of citizens and medical staff, funds should be provided as soon as possible to source anti-epidemic materials such as masks and protective clothing. This will provide protection for workers fighting the epidemic and will also reassure the public.
While helping the public is the top priority, the Government must also consider the difficulties of the business community, and help SMEs solve their urgent needs. Due to the impact of the epidemic, many factories in the Mainland have been suspended and some businesses are facing disruption of their production chains.
Other Hong Kong companies may also be affected by the longer term impact of the coronavirus. In recent years, many businesses have been preoccupied with the U.S.-China trade war. This new attack on the city’s economy will greatly increase the difficulty of doing business.
The street violence had shown signs of cooling in the past few months, and we had started to see a return to normality. However, the coronavirus epidemic has once again drastically reduced the flow of people in shopping malls, which has aggravated the already severe impact on the local retail and catering industries.
Some Chamber members in these sectors have told me that their company capital flow can only deal with short-term interruptions to normal operations. In order to save costs, these businesses will have to consider measures such as unpaid leave, layoffs or even shutdowns. I urge the Government to introduce emergency measures to reduce the operating costs of SMEs and alleviate their financial pressure to reduce the impact on the local business environment.
This is a difficult time for Hong Kong, but all sectors of society are still actively leveraging their respective strengths and standing firm in their roles to contribute to Hong Kong’s success.
The road to economic recovery will not be easy. But as long as the business community continues to unite and make concerted efforts, it will certainly be able to overcome the difficulties that we are facing, and find a way to revitalize Hong Kong’s economy.