Hong Kong people should join hands to fight COVID-19 for economic recovery: HKSAR financial chief

HONG KONG, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) — Paul Chan, financial secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, on Sunday urged the public to join hands in fighting the COVID-19 outbreak for the recovery of Hong Kong’s economy.

Chan said in his blog that the epidemic has dealt a heavy blow to the grassroots and middle class in Hong Kong. This year, the HKSAR government will face an unprecedented fiscal deficit of 300 billion HK dollars (about 38.69 billion U.S. dollars). In a future full of uncertainties and challenges, it is important for everyone to work together to find a way out for Hong Kong.

The HKSAR government on Dec. 17 announced its plan of injecting another round of relief funding worth 6.4 billion HK dollars. Chan said this round of funding nearly doubled that of the previous one launched in September. However, for many long-suffering industries, this is only a temporary relief, not a long-term solution.

In the past three months ending November, Hong Kong’s jobless rate was 6.3 percent and the underemployment rate stood at 3.4 percent, according to the Census and Statistics Department of the HKSAR government.

Although the above figures had been slightly improved, Chan said, in the next few months, the jobless rate might rise again if the epidemic could not be contained swiftly.

He urged the public to cooperate with the HKSAR government’s measures and work together to enable smooth implementation of epidemic control and prevention so that the outbreak would subside as soon as possible. (1 U.S. dollar equals 7.75 HK dollars)

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