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Mortgage loans down 1.7%

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Residential mortgage loans approved in January decreased 1.7% compared with December to $37.8 billion, the Monetary Authority announced today.   Mortgage loans financing primary market transactions fell 22.5% to $5 billion, while those financing secondary market transactions increased 1.5% to $27.1 billion.   Those for refinancing rose 6.8% to $5.8 billion. Mortgage loans drawn down during the month dropped 5.9% to $24.9 billion.   The number of mortgage applications in January increased month-on-month by 15.1% to 13,112.   The outstanding value of mortgage loans increased month-on-month by 0.6% to $1.5909 trillion at the end of January. http://dlvr.it/RtXMgl

FS explains voucher, duty proposal

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Financial Secretary Paul Chan today responded to questions concerning his 2021-22 Budget speech, such as the proposed consumption voucher scheme and increase in the stamp duty on stock transfers.   During a radio show this morning, the finance chief was asked if the Government would offer the public another option to receive cash instead.   Mr Chan stressed that the Government put forward the electronic voucher option after considering public views.   "On the consumption voucher (scheme), the idea is to try to encourage those spending in domestic shops within a short period of time. Over the past two days, we have been listening to views from members of the public.   "The policy consideration, in fact, this year is to try to use this money to help revive domestic consumption and the economy. That's why we chose to use consumption vouchers instead.   "Please do acknowledge that the scope of spending is very wide. People can use it to go to markets, to go to

Land sale plan announced

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(To watch the full press conference with sign language interpretation, click here.)   Secretary for Development Michael Wong announced the Government's 2021-22 Land Sale Programme today.   Fifteen residential sites are on the list. Four are on Hong Kong Island, one in Kowloon and 10 in the New Territories. They will provide about 6,000 units.   There will be three railway property development projects - two in Tung Chung and one in Tseung Kwan O Pak Shing Kok which can provide about 4,050 flats.   Meanwhile, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) plans to take forward six projects, providing about 3,170 flats.   Mr Wong said: "Taking also into consideration the forecasted land supply from the projects of the MTR Corporation and the URA, as well as private development/redevelopment projects, the total potential private housing land supply in 2021-22 is estimated to have a capacity to produce about 16,500 flats."   He noted that the actual supply of private housing l

National security funding explained

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The Government today said the funding arrangement for the expenditure for safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region was made in strict accordance with the National Security Law's relevant requirements.   The Government made the remarks in its response to media enquiries.   It pointed out that according to Article 19 of the National Security Law, the Financial Secretary shall, upon the Chief Executive's approval, appropriate from the general revenue a special fund to meet the expenditure for safeguarding national security and approve the establishment of relevant posts, which are not subject to any restrictions in the relevant provisions of the laws in force in the Hong Kong SAR.   The Financial Secretary shall submit an annual report on the control and management of the fund for this purpose to the Legislative Council.   To this end, the Financial Secretary has made a provision of $8 billion to meet the expenditure for safeguarding na

Comirnaty vaccine yet to arrive

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The Government today said the Comirnaty vaccine jointly developed by Fosun Pharma and BioNTech cannot be shipped from Germany for arrival in Hong Kong tomorrow.   It was notified by Fosun Pharma that the export procedures for the vaccine have yet to be completed, however, the delay does not involve any issues related to the export restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines by the European Union.       The Government added that it has all along been maintaining close liaison with Fosun Pharma to strive for the vaccine’s early supply and has been actively making preparations for its arrival with a target to having the vaccine delivered to Hong Kong in late February.   Fosun Pharma confirmed that the first batch of one million doses of the Comirnaty vaccine to be supplied to Hong Kong has completed production and successfully passed the relevant safety and quality testing.   The first batch of one million doses will be delivered to Hong Kong from Germany via two flights as soon as possible

Budget helps ease people’s burden

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Chief Executive Carrie Lam today said she supports the measures in the 2021-22 Budget aiming at easing the financial burden on people and businesses.   Mrs Lam said the Financial Secretary delivered the Budget at a critical time for Hong Kong as the city strives to emerge from the unprecedented financial, economic and social challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, while maintaining fiscal stability.        “I support the counter-cyclical measures announced in the Budget aiming at easing the financial burden on people and businesses while ensuring that essential public services as well as infrastructure development are maintained.”   She noted that apart from providing relief in terms of tax and rates, and extra allowances for social security and working family allowance recipients, the Budget proposed to issue $5,000 electronic consumption vouchers to Hong Kong permanent residents and new arrivals aged 18 and above.   “I believe the impact of this initiative will be

HK economic outlook positive: FS

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Hong Kong’s economy is expected to resume a 3.5% to 5.5% growth in real terms this year, though the progress of economic recovery will hinge on the epidemic’s development.   Unveiling his 2021-22 Budget today, Financial Secretary Paul Chan told lawmakers that the economy will still face significant challenges in the first half of the year as cross-boundary and tourism activities take time to resume normal.   However, he said if people work together to control the epidemic and social stability is maintained, the economic recovery will likely gain a stronger momentum in the second half of the year in tandem with an anticipated rebound in the global economy.   On inflation, he expected external price pressures will remain modest, with the projected headline inflation rate and the underlying inflation rate at 1.6% and 1% this year.   The finance chief said in the medium term, Hong Kong will continue to benefit from the Mainland’s ongoing development and the shift in global economic