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Saturday, Jul 20, 2024

Quarantine cut and vouchers key for Chan

Quarantine cut and vouchers key for Chan

The shortened quarantine arrangement for inbound travelers and the distribution of consumption vouchers can boost the weak local economy, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said.
With the distribution of the second round of consumption vouchers that started just a week ago, Chan said about HK$13 billion consumption power was immediately injected into the local market.

"Over the past week, people and merchants were all talking about how to use the consumption vouchers. Restaurants and shops also saw an increase in business," he wrote on his online blog yesterday, adding that authorities will continue to launch measures that support local businesses.

But Hong Kong's economy saw negative growth in the second quarter, Chan said.

The city's economy fell 1.3 percent year on year in the second quarter. In the first quarter, the SAR also recorded negative growth of 3.9 percent.

"The international geopolitical situation, rising global inflation and economic downturn have seriously dragged down the performance of Hong Kong's exports," he said.

"Although the first phase of consumption vouchers released in April has injected more than HK$30 billion of consumption power into the local market, making private consumption expenditure the main force supporting the economy, it is still not enough to fully offset the impact of weak exports," he added.

On Friday, the government adjusted its economic growth forecast for the year to between minus 0.5 percent and 0.5 percent - lower than the 1 to 2 percent forecasted in May.

"This forecast is not ideal, but considering the SAR has seen a 2.6 percent economic contraction in the first half of the year, the economy in the rest of the year is expected to improve slightly," Chan said.

However, he acknowledged that the future economic performance can be affected by the local Covid situation.

The government last week shortened the quarantine period for inbound travelers from seven days to three days in hotels and four at home.

Chan wrote that the public has welcomed this new quarantine arrangement as it could reduce the inconvenience caused to travelers and will have a positive impact on local businesses.

Chan stressed that the authorities will continue to monitor Covid outbreaks and make sure all sectors can survive the pandemic.

He also said the government has launched a temporary law in May to ban landlords from evicting tenants or suing them for late rental payments in order to ease the financial burden on medium-sized enterprises and save jobs.

The retail and catering sector, as well as service providers, have said the measure has helped them avoid closures and save their employees' jobs amid a time of crisis.

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