On the 26th of February 2020 the Financial Secretary of Hong Kong, Paul Chan, during the 2020-21 Budget Meeting, announced a wide range of measures to help Hong Kong tackle the current economic difficulties and to support the community during challenging times by making optimal use of the fiscal reserves.
Hong Kong’s financial secretary has announced a HK$10,000 (USD 1300) cash handout for all permanent residents over the age of 18 in a bid to stimulate the economy by boosting local consumption and relieve the financial burden on the community. The application will open by end of August and ends on 31st December 2020. Hong Kong residents will be able to collect the money as early as February 2021.
Other than promote domestic consumption, was decided to relief counter-cyclical measures involving an estimated expenditure of around HK$120 billion (USD 15 billion) came amid negative economic growth since the second half of last year and the city’s first deficit in 15 years as the economy took a hit from the US-China trade war, large-scale protests and the coronavirus outbreak.
Relief measures for the public:
• Rates for residential properties for 2020-21 will be waived up to a ceiling of HK$1,500 per quarter – estimated to involve 2.93 million properties and cost HK$13.3 billion.
• Eligible social security recipients will benefit from an extra month of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payments, Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance or Disability Allowance. A similar arrangement will be rolled out for the Work Incentive Transport Subsidy. It will cost around HK$4.23 billion.
• Lower-income tenants in government public housing will have a month of rent waived, with a total cost of HK$1.83 billion.
• Exam fees for students sitting the 2021 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination will be waived, at a cost of about HK$150 million.
Relief measures for business:
• Profits tax will be reduced by 100% for the 2019-20 year to benefit 141,000 taxpayers at a cost of HK$2 billion.
• Business registration fees will be waived for 2020-21, benefitting 1.5 million business owners at a cost of HK$3 billion. Company registry fees for annual tax returns will be waived for two years to benefit 1.4 million firms at a cost of HK$212 million.
• A concessionary low-interest loan of up to HK$2 million will be provided to enterprises under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme.
• Rates for non-domestic properties for 2020-21 will be waived up to a ceiling of HK$5,000 per quarter in the first two quarters and a ceiling of $1,500 per quarter in the remaining two quarters for each non-domestic property. 420,000 properties will benefit, at a cost of HK$3.2 billion.
• Non-domestic electricity accounts will enjoy a 75 per cent discount up to a ceiling of HK$5,000 for four months, at a cost of HK$2.9 billion. Likewise, water and sewage costs will be discounted by 75 per cent up to a cap of HK$20,000 and HK$12,500 respectively, costing HK$340 billion.
• Local recycling firms will see a rental subsidy for six months, costing HK$100 million.
• Tenants of government properties, government land and EcoPark will see rent discounts of 50 per cent, costing HK$573 million. Rent and fees for eligible operators of properties will be slashed by 50 per cent, costing HK$265 million.
• Hirers of civic centres under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will enjoy discounts of 50 per cent for six months, costing HK$23 million.
The full Budget 2020-21 meeting is available for consultation at this link: https://www.budget.gov.hk/2020/eng/index.html
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