The Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Christopher Hui, said on Wednesday that the government will consider waiving salaries tax as a relief measure in the next budget.
During a Legislative Council meeting, independent lawmaker Paul Tse asked Hui whether the government could provide “a universal waiver or substantial reduction of salaries tax”.
Tse argued that the authorities had conducted tax assessments based on people’s pre-pandemic incomes, and that many workers affected by the Covid-19 outbreak may no longer be able to afford their tax bills.
In response, Hui said the government is open to different options, and will consider them for the next budget which will likely be made public in February.
However, he dismissed suggestions for the government to hand out cash, or inject money into workers’ Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) accounts.
Hui said the government has already been offering “targeted help” to groups most affected by the coronavirus, and stressed that authorities need to adopt an extremely prudent approach with the government’s deficit swelling to over HK$300 billion.
Meanwhile, Labour and Welfare Secretary Law Chi-kwong was questioned by lawmakers over the government’s decision not to roll out another round of wage subsidies.
Lawmakers from different pro-Beijing parties said the end of the Employment Support Scheme could spell the closure of many more businesses over the next few months, triggering massive layoffs.
While Law offered no new measures to help businesses or the unemployed, he said the government would review its relief strategy accordingly.