12 January 2021
The Honourable Paul Chan Mo-po, GBS, MH, JP
25/F, Central Government Offices
2 Tim Mei Avenue, Tamar
I am pleased to submit for your consideration the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce’s proposals for the Government’s forthcoming Budget.
These are unprecedented and trying times for Hong Kong. Amid the sea-change caused by man-made and natural crises, there needs to be a rethink of our approach to rebuilding a Hong Kong that is both flexible and resilient enough to withstand the economic and social demands of 2021 and beyond.
Despite these challenges and uncertainties, Hong Kong possesses a number of strengths and advantages: we have a strong fiscal war chest, unparalleled access to a strong and fast recovering market in China, and are at the centre of a thriving Asia-Pacific economy. As an additional advantage, Asia appears to be faring better and stands a better chance of rebounding quicker from the effects of Covid-19, although the fight to contain the pandemic could drag on.
We are also mindful of the need to ensure that Hong Kong maintains its competitive edge and continues to be a preferred business destination and, to that end, have included recommendations on both near- and long-term measures that the Government should consider to support our economy and protect the welfare of Hong Kong’s society as a whole.
We hope that you will find our suggestions to be helpful.
HKGCC Budget Proposals for 2021-2022
The economic situation in Hong Kong has been characterized by increased uncertainty since the last Budget Address with the Covid crisis wreaking havoc on Hong Kong as we contend with a fourth wave at the time of writing.
As mentioned in our earlier submission to the Chief Executive’s 2020 Policy Address, immediate attention must be given to mitigating the devastating effects of the coronavirus. Although there may be light at the end of the tunnel with the roll out of approved vaccines, it appears that we will have to brace ourselves for a further worsening in conditions with the recent resurgence in new cases.
We therefore continue to call for near-term measures similar to those put forward in our submission to last year’s Budget. We are also mindful of the need to transform Hong Kong’s operating environment into one that is more sustainable and resilient under the “new normal” and have included recommendations below to achieve this goal.
A. Emergency measures
As the number of local cases continue to ebb and flow, businesses are struggling with a protracted period of uncertainty that has witnessed a dramatic and unprecedented shift in the business landscape. Responding to the unknown will be inherently challenging but we suggest that the Government should proactively develop scenarios on how the pandemic might play out in 2021 (and beyond), and to critically review the implications on local businesses so that we are not caught unprepared. In the near term, the rollout of various relief measures under the Anti-Epidemic Fund has provided some respite and we urge the Government to continue with such support programmes to help companies and their employees weather the impact of the coronavirus. To this end, we suggest:
B. Forward-looking measures
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