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AFP
February 15, 2020

Hong Kong unveils cash handouts

Business

AFP
February 15, 2020

Hong Kong: Hong Kong announced a slew of cash subsidies on Friday to help businesses that have been battered by the coronavirus outbreak in a city already reeling from a recession.

The US-China trade war and months of seething pro-democracy protests last year had already pushed the business hub´s economy into negative territory.

The virus has compounded those woes, leading to an even more stark drop in tourist arrivals and empty streets, pushing many smaller businesses towards bankruptcy.

On Friday night the city´s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam said the government would dip into its financial reserves -- some of the world´s healthiest -- to give cash subsidies to sectors hit hardest by the crisis.

"We hope to do our best to avoid large scale closures and lay-offs," she told reporters. Lam, who has record low approval ratings, announced one-off subsidies for people such as construction workers, security guards and janitors to help them buy protective equipment.

The government will also issue HK$80,000 ($10,300) to licensed travel agencies, smaller restaurants and retailers as well as HK$5,000 to street hawkers, HK$200,000 to licensed restaurants and factory canteens and a further HK$5,000 to around 200,000 low income families.