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Hong Kong unveils US$500m more in stimulus to help businesses

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Stimulus measures announced since June amount to about HK$25 billion(S$4.35 billion), Mr Chan said, reiterating that the government expects to post a budget shortfall this fiscal year.

[HONG KONG] The Hong Kong government announced further stimulus measures worth around US$511 million Wednesday, aiming to shore up businesses suffering from almost six months of political unrest.

A list of nine new measures included subsidies for water and sewer bills as well as waivers on property tax rates for businesses. Individuals and companies also may apply to pay profits and salaries tax in installments, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said at a news conference Wednesday alongside other members of the administration.

Stimulus measures announced since June amount to about HK$25 billion(S$4.35 billion), Mr Chan said, reiterating that the government expects to post a budget shortfall this fiscal year.

Economists have previously criticised the government's support measures as "peanuts." Earlier Wednesday, the International Monetary Fund said Hong Kong should add fiscal spending equivalent to 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product over the next two years. Before today's announcement, the government's extra spending had totaled less than 1 per cent of GDP.

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Hong Kong's business outlook fell to a near record low in November, according to IHS Markit, as businesses remain under pressure after almost half a year of unrest on the city's streets and export weakness amid the US-China trade war.

The Securities and Futures Commission said earlier it will waive annual licensing fees for the 2020-2021 financial year to relieve regulatory cost burdens on the industry amid a challenging market environment. The initiative will cost about HK$117.5 million in foregone revenue, in addition to the 50 per cent waiver announced earlier this year.

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