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HKSAR gov't preparing more comprehensive support for COVID-19-hit businesses: official

(Xinhua)    09:17, April 06, 2020

HONG KONG, April 5 (Xinhua) -- The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government financial secretary said Sunday that the government is preparing for relief measures that can benefit more businesses as the COVID-19 epidemic has started to weigh down on a much wider range of industries.

"The impact of the rapidly-spreading epidemic has extended from limited industries such as the retail and tourism sectors to nearly all industries," Paul Chan, financial secretary of the HKSAR government, said in an online article.

The focus of relief measures should shift from several certain sectors to all businesses and should tackle their pressing difficulties, Chan said.

His remarks came as the HKSAR government said the second round of economic stimulus for COVID-19-hit businesses and residents is in the pipeline, following the 30-billion-Hong Kong dollar (about 3.87 billion U.S. dollars) government anti-epidemic fund already put in place.

In response to an upsurge in infections after a large number of residents returning from overseas, the government has stepped up social distancing measures to curb the COVID-19 spread in local community, limiting group gatherings of more than four people and closing entertainment venues for two weeks, such as bars and night clubs.

As the economic hardship will likely linger for a longer period, Chan said the government is working on measures to further ease pressures of money-starved businesses.

"Enterprises are having difficulties in paying their employees, which will likely lead to cuts and job losses. We are working through the anti-epidemic fund to find a solution," Chan said.

The government has provided a 100 percent guarantee for loans to small and medium-sized enterprises and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has lowered the requirements for Countercyclical Capital Buffer, the amount of cash that banks must keep as reserves, to enable banks to lend more to businesses, Chan said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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