In a bid to stimulate its local economy, the Hong Kong government announced a plan to give $10,000 HKD ($1,200 UD) to about seven million people over the age of 18. Since May of 2019 the territory’s economy has been battered by months of violent political unrest, and most recently suffered from the impact of the coronavirus.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in a press conference on Wednesday that, “Hong Kong’s economy is facing enormous challenges this year. After careful consideration, I have decided to disburse HK$10,000 to Hong Kong permanent residents aged 18 or above, with a view to encouraging and boosting local consumption on the one hand, and relieving people’s financial burden on the other.”
The payments to local residents are part of a $120 billion HKD relief package that the government plans to enact to ease the impact of the protests and virus on the economy.
In addition to the $10,000 payments to adult residents, the government said that it would also lower public housing rent and plans to provide rebates in salary and property taxes.
During 2019 the territory’s economy suffered from months of political unrest, often characterized by violent clashes with the police which depressed business and consumer travel and the tourism industry, while the financial industry also suffered from the ongoing US-China trade war, slowing down trade between the world’s two largest economies.
In the last weeks, the threat of the coronavirus spilling over from the mainland has slowed down much of public life and dealt a second serious blow to the tourism sector and many small companies that depend upon tourism say that a prolonged economic slump could cause them to close their businesses.
Hong Kong had previously announced a relief fund for sectors that have suffered because of the outbreak, including cash handouts for businesses like restaurants and travel operators and the new economic stimulus effort by the government is seen as a necessary step that may need to be repeated several times throughout the year to continue supporting the economy.