Voucher scheme to surpass goals

Top News | Carine Chow 13 Sep 2021

The consumption vouchers are expected to boost the economy better than previously projected, says Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po.

The first tranche of HK$2,000, distributed on August 1, was expected to increase gross domestic product by 0.7 percent.

But Chan said on a radio program yesterday that the end result could be better than that.

"You know, consumption depends a lot on the overall atmosphere. When people are happy and find the vouchers convenient to use, they would be willing to spend more," he said, adding the scheme can also help stabilize the employment market by sparking economic recovery.

Chan noted that the government last month raised the annual economic growth projection from between 3.5 and 5.5 percent to between 5.5 and 6.5 percent.

"As long as the pandemic is under control, it is not difficult to reach this target," he said.

But Chan admitted that the economic recovery is "imbalanced" as some sectors - like tourism, cross-boundary transport and aviation - are being severely hit.

On the voucher hiccups, Chan said thousands of applications have been reviewed in recent days.

Hundreds of disgruntled elderly were seen queuing outside the voucher secretariat in Mong Kok recently after they were unable to collect the first tranche.

Although some of the applicants were upset, he said most left relieved after visiting one of the four service centers.

Chan , on a television program yesterday, said the Qianhai plan is meaningful to Hong Kong as the two places can collaborate.

Since it is less convenient for capital to flow in and out of the mainland market due to its foreign exchange control, Chan said it gives Hong Kon an edge on the offshore yuan market.

"The most important thing is the positions and we have to play to each of our strengths while creating a bigger market," he said.

Chan also stressed that Qianhai is not going to compete with Hong Kong.

The proposal of reinforcing the collaboration of service industries between Qianhai and Hong Kong will support the SAR's social and economic development and enhance Hongkongers' sense of belonging to the country, he said.

But Chan said there is a need to review the overall development of the Lok Ma Chau Loop, such as building a rail network to link the western part of the New Territories, Qianhai and the western part of the Pearl River Delta.

"If we want to attract enterprises to join the innovation sector in Hong Kong, we need to provide them with sufficient land to settle in Hong Kong," he said.

"The original Lok Ma Chau Loop is inadequate."

carine.chow@singtaonewscorp.com



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