2021 budget

Business

Budget Address 2021: Effects of unemployment loan in doubt

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿、Kwok Chiu Tung 郭昭彤Edited by: Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰
  • 2021-02-24

Hong Kong's Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said on Wednesday unemployed citizens can apply for government-backed low interest personal loans of up to HK$80,000 but citizens cast doubt on its effectiveness because some fear that they cannot repay the loan. The one-off loan at an interest rate of 1% per annum is part of the government’s relief measures announced by the Financial Secretary in his budget speech amid the city’s unemployment rate hitting a 17-year high of  7% in January, with more than 250,000 people unemployed. “The labour market deteriorated sharply,” said Mr Chan in the speech. “This prolonged economic downturn has plunged some people into financial difficulties.” As an extra financing option for the unemployed, eligible individuals can pay interest only in the first year, and then repay the principal plus interest within the next five years. People who repay on time will get the interest back at the end. “I think the budget is reasonable and fair, especially in giving low interest rate loans to the unemployed,” said Teresa Tong, 65, former Partner at Ernst & Young Hong Kong. “ It’s a new idea for this year and it’s pretty innovative. It’s the right way to support the poor and unemployed rather than just offer them money.” “But some people are reluctant to borrow from the government”, said Kwok Man-ho, district councillor Tin Shui Wai. He has received comments from about a dozen of residents and none of them planned to apply for the loan as they were not sure if they were able to repay later. Besides, Mr Kwok also said the amount of the loan was too small, especially for people who were not living in public housing. “Since the unemployed have no idea when they can find jobs, most of them prefer direct unemployment grants …

Business

Budget Address 2021: Deficit hits record high Forecasts economy return to growth this year

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰、Vikki Cai ChuchuEdited by: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿
  • 2021-02-24

Hong Kong government's fiscal deficit would hit a record of HK$257.6 billion this financial year, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said in his budget speech on Wednesday. The deficit was expected to narrow a bit to HK$101.6 billion in 2021/22, accounting for 3.6% of GDP as a series of supporting measures and the continued increase in recurrent expenditure.  Mr Chan also forecasted the city's economy would return to growth of between 3.5% to 5.5% this year, due to an expected recovery in the global economy and the effect of local stimulus measures. The Financial Secretary delivered his budget speech at a Legislative Council meeting today with a focus on “stabilising the economy and relieving people's burden”. He said the economy would still face significant challenges in the first half of the year, but "economic recovery will likely gain a stronger momentum in the second half of the year in tandem with an expected rebound in the global economy." However, he also said, “With the epidemic still lingering, our economy is yet to come out of recession.” “As the social distancing restrictions are relaxed and more people are vaccinated, confidence among investors and citizens will increase, and there will be corresponding economic activities to help the economy recover,” said Billy Mak, associate professor from the Department of Finance and Decision Sciences of Hong Kong Baptist University. “But the recovery process may take three or four years, and the economy this year will still be difficult.” Mr Chan also alerted that Hong Kong would record a deficit for a number of years after achieving a surplus for 15 years. Despite this, the government still decided not to cut spending that affects people's livelihood, especially resources for education, social welfare and healthcare, in order to protect people's livelihood and maintain public confidence. By …