Hong Kong approves latest pandemic relief subsidies

The Legislative Council has approved the latest round of COVID-19 relief subsidies of HK$5.5 billion (US$709 million).
By: | December 23, 2020

The subsidies will go towards helping businesses most badly hit by the latest social distancing rules, such as restaurants, gyms, beauty parlours and cinemas. 

This latest round of subsidies has been criticised as insufficient to help companies stay afloat and struggling employees are not given direct help. 

Also, some industries that have also been hit hard by the pandemic have been left out of this round of relief measures, said Ben Chan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB). 

In response, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung defended the latest subsidy package at a special Finance Committee meeting, saying the government needs to take a targeted approach because of its financial situation. 

“We know many have been left out. Many other sectors have been hit. We do know that. But given our fiscal constraints, we have to take this approach,” Cheung said, adding that the government has to be prudent with its spending as there may be more waves of outbreaks in the future. 

READ: COVID-19 subsidy only for workers in Hong Kong without paid sick leave

The funding request was passed after seven hours of debate, with 32 lawmakers voting for the funding, one against and three abstentions. On top of the HK$5.5 billion in this fourth round of relief package, another HK$830 million was approved for “contingency funds”, said RTHK.