Dairy Farm, Kowloon Motor Bus and Maxim’s group were among the top recipients of handouts from the government’s Employment Support Scheme aimed at saving jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic, an activist investor says.

According to the latest data compiled and analysed by David Webb and published Sunday on his website, the government has since May paid out a total of HK$86 billion to companies through the scheme, which rolled out in two phases.

Photo: HKGov.

The application period of the second phase ended on September 13, and the latest batch of handouts were given out on December 10, meaning the most recent recipients have yet to be included in the data.

The scheme provided financial support to employers who promised to retain a fixed number of employees, proportionate to the employee’s payroll.

The first phase of the subsidy was intended to secure 1.94 million jobs, and 1.72 million during the second phase so far, according to data analysed by Webb.

RankCompany nameTotal (HK$)HeadsAverage
(HK$)
1DAIRY FARM COMPANY, LIMITED (THE)799,387,15821,61136,990
2KOWLOON MOTOR BUS COMPANY (1933) LIMITED (THE)650,103,16812,59051,636
3MAXIM’S CATERERS LIMITED643,015,10413,45647,786
4Café de Coral Group Limited462,770,51712,64036,612
5CATHAY PACIFIC AIRWAYS LIMITED458,206,65617,70325,883
6HONG KONG AIRCRAFT ENGINEERING COMPANY LIMITED330,359,0526,05354,578
7PARKnSHOP (HK) Limited323,919,6488,21539,430
8GAMMON CONSTRUCTION LIMITED322,121,5866,06653,103
9MHK Restaurants Limited275,998,35612,98421,257
10KAI SHING MANAGEMENT SERVICES LIMITED273,208,6145,78047,268
Data source: webb-site.com

The data shows that more labour-intensive businesses, such as retailers and public transport companies, were the biggest beneficiaries. Dairy Farm owns supermarket chain Wellcome, pharmacy chain Mannings, convenience store franchise 7-Eleven and furniture franchise IKEA.

Also among the top 10 recipients are supermarket rival ParknShop, and fast food chains Cafe de Coral and Maxim’s group.

The city is still suffering a fourth wave of coronavirus infections. Hong Kong reported 98 cases on Tuesday, 89 of which were locally transmitted. The source of 30 of the local cases was unknown.

Correction 16.12.20: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the second phase of the ESS ended on December 10 and the number of jobs secured as 1.83 million. The application period closed on September 13, and the latest batch was given out on December 10, some applications are still being processed. The second phase of the ESS has secured 1.72 million jobs so far.

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Selina Cheng

Selina Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist who previously worked with HK01, Quartz and AFP Beijing. She also covered the Umbrella Movement for AP and reported for a newspaper in France. Selina has studied investigative reporting at the Columbia Journalism School.