Maintaining fiscal reserves essential

Secretary for Financial Services & the Treasury Christopher Hui stated that while the Government strives to make available mitigation measures for society, it also needs to maintain a certain level of fiscal reserves for meeting future needs.   Answering lawmakers’ questions at the Legislative Council today, Mr Hui said given that the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a very severe blow to Hong Kong’s economy, the Government expects great volatility in the economic environment and the external political situation in the coming years.   He emphasised that the Government has been steadfast in supporting both the enterprises and employment.   “To this end, the Government has introduced targeted relief measures amounting to over $300 billion, through the 2020-21 Budget and the four rounds of injections into the Anti-epidemic Fund (AEF), that covered a wide range of industries and groups in need.   “As at mid-March 2021, over $140 billion of subsidies have been disbursed under the AEF, benefitting over 6.5 million people and around 850,000 applications submitted by enterprises and businesses.”   On the premise that no layoffs were allowed, employers had been subsidised by the two tranches of the Employment Support Scheme to the benefit of around 1.95 million employees and over 120,000 self-employed people, Mr Hui added.   He said the Government forecasts that the consolidated deficit this year will be the highest on record, and the deficit in the coming year will remain high at around $100 billion.   Mr Hui also noted that to enhance governance capability, it is pivotal for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to dutifully implement the decision of the National People's Congress to improve the electoral system and the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong".   “Once the loophole in our current electoral system is plugged, we can effectively resolve the predicament of over-politicisation as seen in the Legislative Council in recent years.   “We hope once the electoral system is improved and 'patriots administering Hong Kong' is administered, there will be larger room for co-operation with the LegCo and different sectors of the community to develop the economy and improve people's livelihood.”
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