The pro-business Liberal Party has suggested that the Hong Kong government should give HK$10,000 in cash or vouchers to each adult permanent resident in order to stimulate local consumption.

The party was meeting with Financial Secretary Paul Chan on Monday morning to discuss the annual budget. Chan warned that the city will see its first deficit in 15 years as the US-China trade war and Hong Kong protests take their toll.

Liberal Party Chair Tommy Cheung said vouchers that could only be spent locally could be an option for residents, though the administrative fees may be too high. The other method would be to conduct a cash handout of HK$10,000, he said.

Tommy Cheung. File Photo: LegCo.

“There will be a multiplier effect, so that when people spend money at [businesses], staff earn more and will spend more at other places,” Cheung, also a member of the top advisory body the Executive Council, said.

The party first suggested the measure in September ahead of Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s policy address in October. But the idea was not accepted.

Hong Kong has seen six months of large-scale protests. Initially against the now-withdrawn extradition bill, protesters are now focused on wider demands including universal suffrage and an independent investigation into the police force.

Cheung thanked the government for the supportive measures announced recently, but said they will not last long. He said businesses can only expect to return to normal operations once calm is restored in society.

Financial Secretary Paul Chan giving the budget speech. Photo: GovHK.

He suggested the government to give a one-off HK$10,000 cash subsidy to shops in the retail and catering industry, as well as halving the rent for businesses with a short term tenancy.

Other suggested measures included rents and rates waivers, a refund of salaries tax, and an exemption of government fees. The party also suggested a fund for repairing public transport vehicles which were damaged during the protests.

Hong Kong Free Press relies on direct reader support. Help safeguard independent journalism and press freedom as we invest more in freelancers, overtime, safety gear & insurance during this summer’s protests. 10 ways to support us.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.