For Immediate Release
The Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce (HKGCC) welcomes the initiatives presented by the Financial Secretary Paul MP Chan in his Budget Speech today, which focus on providing targeted financial assistance to the needy to fight the pandemic, while strengthening Hong Kong’s long-term competitiveness.
“Given the severity of this fifth wave of the pandemic, we support the Financial Secretary’s effort to help people and businesses who have been worst affected by Covid. The proposed four-prong approach: fighting the pandemic, relieving citizens’ and SMEs’ hardships, supporting the economy, and planning for medium- and long-term economic development, is a suitable strategy during this difficult time,” said HKGCC Chairman Peter Wong.
As Hong Kong is at a critical point in its fight against the pandemic and businesses are facing dire liquidity constraints, further financial relief measures will be a literal lifeline for many firms.
Rebates on profits tax and rates, together with waiving business registration fees and utilities charges, as well as public rental fee concessions will bring some relief for struggling businesses. The Chamber also welcomes the extension for applications and increased amount for the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme and extending the repayment period. Similarly, plans for the Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation to guarantee up to 70% of export financing will help exporters.
The decision to give out HK$10,000 in consumption vouchers in two tranches to provide financial support to permanent residents and stimulate the domestic economy is welcomed.
On planning for the future, we are glad to see the Financial Secretary agrees to further develop Hong Kong’s role as a financial hub. Issuing more green and various kinds of retail bonds will have the added benefits of preserving our fiscal strength, while making our financial market more diversified and comprehensive. Other measures in relation to developing RMB business, family office and FinTech will also enhance our role as an international financial center.
We also welcome investments in new sectors to diversify our economic base, including I&T development, life sciences, as well as research and development with extra protection under a more robust intellectual property regime.
With Hong Kong being the world’s second-largest fundraising hub for biotechnology, providing more resources to these sectors will further attract more talent to strengthen our capabilities and global reputation.
In relation to this will be attracting and developing our talent pool. Hong Kong has been experiencing a brain drain during the pandemic, and a looming greying population will accelerate this. Therefore, we are pleased to see the Financial Secretary gave attention to talent development across a wide range of sectors, increasing subsides under the Continuing Education Fund to encourage workers to upgrade their skills, not least to upgrade and increase the healthcare teaching facilities of universities.
“2022 looks to be the most challenging year Hong Kong has had to face for decades as our fight against the pandemic intensifies. We are pleased that the Financial Secretary has responded to the immediate needs of businesses and citizens to help Hong Kong get through this exceptionally difficult time, while at the same time sowing seeds that will support the city’s rebound and long-term development,” said Wong.
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