Hong Kong’s economy is expected to grow 2%-3.5% in real terms this year, the city’s financial secretary said, as the Asian financial hub faces its largest Covid-19 outbreak since the pandemic began.
The government plans to spend more than 170 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$21.79 billion) on counter-cyclical measures to support its economy, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said Wednesday.
“At this critical time, we need to direct more resources to relieve people’s hardship and provide SMEs with some breathing space so as to stabilise the economy and maintain public confidence,” he said at his budget speech for the coming fiscal year beginning April.
The rapidly worsening pandemic outbreak in Hong Kong has battered consumer sentiment and put intense pressure on economic activities in the short term, he said. He added that he “is not optimistic” about Hong Kong’s economic performance in the first quarter.
Among the relief measures, the government will hand out HK$10,000 in electronic consumption vouchers to every Hong Kong permanent resident aged 18 or above, in a bid to boost spending. The budget has allocated over HK$54 billion to fund pandemic-control efforts, Chan said.
During the 2023-2026 period, taking into account catch-up growth after the pandemic, Hong Kong’s economy is projected to grow by an average of 3% per annum in real terms, compared with the trend growth of 2.8% during the decade before the pandemic, he said.