Hong Kong unveils 3-bln-USD package to fight COVID-19, prop up economy

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Visitors take photos of Hong Kong Island in south China's Hong Kong, July 14, 2020. (File photo: Xinhua)

HONG KONG, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong announced Tuesday its third round of anti-epidemic fund worth about 24 billion Hong Kong dollars (3.1 billion U.S. dollars) in the latest effort to fight COVID-19 and bail out an economy reeling from the epidemic.

The fund was unveiled at a press conference of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government on Tuesday afternoon.

Some 13 billion Hong Kong dollars will be allocated to purchase vaccines, fend off a possible wave of epidemic in the coming winter, and promote no-touch payments at markets, among others. About 4.5 billion Hong Kong dollars will be used for propping up virus-hit sectors, including catering, tourism and transport, and assisting people in need.

Besides, the rental of government-owned properties will be reduced and 27 types of government fees will be exempted as part of relief measures to help cash-starved individuals, which is equivalent to about 5 billion Hong Kong dollars.

Taking into account the new measures, the HKSAR government has appropriated anti-epidemic funds of more than 300 billion Hong Kong dollars this year to help businesses and residents weather out the hardship caused by the epidemic.

Financial Secretary of the HKSAR government Paul Chan predicts the latest relief measures can support the economic growth by slightly more than 5 percentage points.

Chan also estimates that the fiscal deficits will rise to over 300 billion Hong Kong dollars and the fiscal reserves will drop to over 800 billion Hong Kong dollars, or 12 to 13 months of expenditures. (1 U.S. dollar equals 7.75 HK dollars)