Businesses call for MPF suspension, subsidies - RTHK
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Businesses call for MPF suspension, subsidies

2020-04-03 HKT 17:20
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  • Businesses call for MPF suspension, subsidies
  • Police arrive to tell representatives of the Hong Kong Business Community Joint Conference that they have breached social distancing rules because more than four people have gathered outside. Photo: RTHK.
    Police arrive to tell representatives of the Hong Kong Business Community Joint Conference that they have breached social distancing rules because more than four people have gathered outside. Photo: RTHK.
An alliance representing small and medium-sized businesses on Friday urged the government to either suspend employer contributions to their staff’s Mandatory Provident Funds (MPF) for six months, or pay half their workers’ salaries for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

Representatives of the Hong Kong Business Community Joint Conference gathered outside the government’s Tamar headquarters on Friday afternoon, together with Liberal Party lawmaker Felix Chung, to hand a petition to the government.

The group's secretary general, Aaron Shum, told reporters that SMEs have been hit hard during the pandemic, and many firms have been forced to lay off staff because of a sharp drop in revenue.

Shum said the government should pay half the salaries of all staff employed by businesses affected, or at least consider suspending employers' MPF contributions for six months. Employers are required to put five percent of their workers’ income into their MPF funds, capped at HK$1,500 per month.

A representative from the tourism industry said that while affected businesses in the sector received HK$80,000 from the government’s first anti-epidemic fund, that was barely enough to ease the pain, and he hopes a second round of relief measures would do more to protect jobs in the sector.

He added that the city's tour bus drivers were also hoping to receive subsidies, saying they’ve had no business at all because no tourists are coming in anymore.

Shum said he hoped the government would allocate HK$300 million from the Travel Industry Compensation Fund to help travel agencies weather the crisis.

The gathering was interrupted at one point by the police, who informed the group that they were in breach of a new social distancing measure limiting public gatherings to just four people.

The business representatives then split up into two separate groups to comply with the regulation.

Reporters at the scene were also told to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from the groups.