Parties in race as jobless and catering pains rise

Local | Sophie Hui 6 Mar 2020

The Federation of Trade Unions has set up a fund with the aim of giving 5,000 jobless people a handout of HK$3,000 each.

It plans to raise HK$15 million for the fund, which already includes a month's salary donated by its five lawmakers and HK$1 million from its relief charity fund.

Applications for the handouts will open from March 16, with the FTU expecting the money to be given out from April.

Anyone who has been unemployed for a minimum of one month and is in financial difficulty will be eligible, with applicants needing to provide proof they are jobless and to expect home visits.

"We hope the money can be given to people who have lost their jobs and not received any government subsidy at all," said FTU chairman Wong Kwok.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong demanded the government cover more industries in the anti-epidemic fund.

Following a meeting with Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, party chairwoman and legislator Starry Lee Wai-king said a number of sectors including real estate agents, IT, and children education centers did not benefit from the first round of dispensations by the fund.

The government should help these sectors in order to prevent a large-scale shutdowns or layoffs, Lee said, adding that property owners should be encouraged to cut rents by offering them tax relief.

Her party also requested the creation of a fund for those who have lost their jobs or are underemployed.

Meanwhile, the subsidy scheme for the catering sector and licensed hawkers began receiving applications yesterday. The deadline for applications is set for May 4 at 5pm.

Larger restaurants, offshore restaurants, and factory canteens can get a one-off subsidy of up to HK$200,000, while light refreshment restaurants, fresh provision shops, food factories, bakeries, and siu mei and lo mei shops can get a one-off allowance of up to HK$80,000, with hawkers to receive up to HK$5,000.

More than 1,000 people in the catering industry attended a subsidy briefing by catering-sector lawmaker Tommy Cheung Yu-yan to explain eligibility and application procedures.

Cheung said business at most restaurants had fallen 50 to 90 percent in the past two months, while airport outlets had only one tenth of their usual takes.

He also expected the joblessness for the industry to rise to 8 to 9 percent this month.

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