Gov’t announces HKD137.5 bil. relief package, including salary subsidies

Screengrab: Apple News via Facebook
Screengrab: Apple News via Facebook

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a press conference yesterday evening that the Hong Kong government would be rolling out a HKD137.5 billion relief package to aid local businesses and citizens in light of the COVID-19 outbreak’s “disastrous” impact on Hong Kong’s economy.

HKD80 billion has been earmarked for the Employment Support Scheme (ESS), a wage subsidy package designed to help retain jobs and keep businesses afloat. An estimated 1.5 million workers will benefit from the scheme, which will cover 50 percent of their wages (capped at HKD9,000 a month) for six months.

The money will be given directly to eligible employers, who must pledge to keep their staff on to receive financial aid. To ensure that the money ends up in the right hands, both employers and employees will be notified if they have been approved for the ESS, and companies will be audited to ensure that the funds have not been misappropriated. Self-employed freelancers who make MPF contributions are also eligible to receive a one-off grant payment.

The relief package includes 16 proposals totalling HKD21 billion to support sectors which have been especially hard-hit, including schools, aviation, catering, and tourism.

The MTR Corporation has also announced that it would reduce train fares by 20 percent for six months, starting from July. Octopus card users will receive rebates on all MTR rides (excluding the Airport Express), while all monthly passes will be reduced by HKD100 for six months.

Other relief measures include interest-free deferrals on all student loan repayments, deferrals of tax payments, and more (full details here). The financial requirements for social security assistance will also be relaxed for six months, in order to support those who have already been laid off.

Follow our COVID-19 coverage here.

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