Hong Kong's legislature on Wednesday passed the 2021-22 budget proposed by the government that features about 120 billion Hong Kong dollars (15.46 billion U.S. dollars) of counter-cyclical measures aimed at reviving the economy amid COVID-19.
The budget was adopted by the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) after its third reading was completed, with 40 votes in favor, one against and one abstention.
In the budget first unveiled on Feb. 24, the HKSAR government announced an array of economic relief measures, including reduction of taxes and fees, social security allowances and consumption vouchers, to help businesses and individuals weather out the hardship.
The spending is expected to result in a deficit of 101.6 billion Hong Kong dollars for the 2021-22 financial year, equivalent to 3.6 percent of the local gross domestic product (GDP), marking the third straight year with a budget deficit.
Despite the huge deficit, the government needs to prop up the economy and assist people and businesses in need after the financial hub took dual blows of social unrest and the COVID-19 epidemic over the past years, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said Wednesday when speaking to lawmakers.
Chan also said the economy got off to a good start this year as the GDP would register a considerable increase in the first three months, ending the contraction that had lasted for six consecutive quarters.
Hong Kong GDP figure for the January-March period will be released next week. The economy of the financial hub slipped 6.1 percent from a year ago in 2020.