For Immediate Release
The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) is very concerned that the effects of the pandemic on businesses will force many companies to close unless urgent action is taken to support employers whose operations have been badly hit by the coronavirus.
“Many businesses in Hong Kong are under intense pressure as they struggle to remain solvent. Some have collapsed while others have had to reduce their workforce in a desperate attempt to cut costs amid dwindling cash reserves,” said HKGCC Chairman Aron Harilela.
Governments in Europe, the United States and even Singapore have rapidly rolled out schemes to help prevent unemployment by covering part of employers’ wage bills as liquidity is quickly evaporating. The Chamber hopes that the Hong Kong Government can also quickly roll out similar measures to avoid major job losses.
While the challenges that the retail, F&B, and tourism sectors are facing are frequently cited in the news, Harilela stressed all sectors are in dire need of support. Of particular concern is the construction sector, which has been plagued by funding delays as far back as 2014, and is subject to further distress due to the ongoing pandemic. As of 5 April 2020, over 30 work projects were still pending funding approval.
“Investment in infrastructure provides direct and indirect benefits to the economy over the short and long term. Safeguarding construction jobs and ensuring the timely completion of capital works projects are therefore critical to a strong economic recovery once the war on COVID-19 is won,” said Harilela. “Delays, which are otherwise avoidable, will push up the overall costs of badly needed infrastructure projects, undermine our competitiveness and jeopardise the livelihoods of many of the 330,000-plus people in the construction industry,” Harilela added.
While our ability to deal with external challenges brought on by the coronavirus is limited, we should be doing all we can do to save jobs and stimulate the economy. “The hurdles related to the funding of capital works projects are not at all insurmountable and should be addressed quickly. Failure to do so will only inflict needless self-harm on Hong Kong and endanger tens of thousands of jobs,” concluded Harilela.
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