The beleaguered Carrie Lam government on Thursday announced HK$19 billion worth of sweeteners and waivers covering a wide section of society, in what some see as an attempt to ease public discontent as Hong Kong is being rocked by anti-extradition protests.
But the Financial Secretary, Paul Chan, insisted the package has to do with Hong Kong's economic downturn, not the current social and political unrest.
The government also revised downwards Hong Kong's GDP growth forecast for 2019 of between 2 and 3 percent, to 0 to 1 percent.
A plan announced in the budget earlier this year to reduce salaries tax, tax under personal assessment and profits tax by 75 percent, subject to a maximum HK$20,000, would be raised to 100 percent.
That means 1.33 million taxpayers will have all taxes waived for this financial year, while a total of 1.43 million taxpayers will enjoy $1.84 billion in savings.
All kindergarten, primary and secondary schools will each receive a subsidy of HK$2,500 for the new academic year. That will cost the government HK$2.3 billion and benefit more than 900,000 students.
Households will receive a one-off electricity subsidy of $2,000. More than 2.7 million families stand to benefit from the proposal that has a price tag of $5.6 billion.
An extra month of payment will be given to welfare recipients, as well as those receiving the Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance and disability allowance. That will cost the government $4 billion.
Lower-income tenants in public housing units will have their rents waived for one month, costing the government $1.4 billion.
The Community Care Fund will be tasked to come up with plans to offer a one-off subsidy for low-income families that currently do not get any financial help from the government.
Govt unveils HK$19bn package to 'help economy'
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