Hong Kong lawmakers renew calls for more COVID-19 support
Hong Kong officials should relook their decision on not providing unemployment assistance to low-income groups as the pandemic continues to roil the economy, lawmakers said, as the Legislative Council kicked off a debate on the budget.
Some business sector legislators have also threatened to abstain from voting on the government’s budget because they do not agree with the planned rise in stamp duty for stock transactions from 0.1 to 0.13%, reports the South China Morning Post.
Hong Kong’s annual spending blueprint, which was unveiled in a budget speech by Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po on February 26, includes electronic vouchers to boost consumer spending, and low-interest loans for the unemployed. The slated fiscal support amounted to HK$120 billion (US$15.4 billion).
The DAB has repeatedly asked for short-term support so the unemployed can receive HK$6,000 (US$773) a month for half a year, Lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) said.
“I have had discussions a few times with labour secretary Law Chi-kwong and failed to get a positive response,” she said, adding that “There are just two urgent matters for the people: first, to successfully fight the pandemic and resume livelihoods; and second, to assist those most in need, but the government failed to do both.”