Summary of Relief Measures Released in March and April 2020
After the announcement of the Hong Kong Budget 2020-21 in February, more relief measures have been released in March and April. These measures will further release the burden faced by enterprises, employees and the public during the outbreak of COVID-19. Below is the summary of the support measures:
$1 Billion Relief Measures Announced for Airport Community
Announced on March 23, the Government and the Airport Authority will provide timely and direct support to companies across different sectors at Hong Kong International Airport. Those measures will benefit more than 400 companies in the airport community. Those measures include:
- Waiver of $670 million for air traffic control charges in 2019-20 for the authority, which will be passed on in full to the airport community
- $330 million contributions from the authority
- Training incentive provided to frontline airport staff
Over $130 Billion Relief Measures to Support Enterprises, Employees and the Public
As announced on April 8, the government introduced a series of measures involving over $130 billion to help relieve financial burdens of individuals and businesses, assisting the economy to recover. These measures include:
Employment Support Scheme
- Wage subsidies will be provided to eligible employers who undertake not to make workers redundant during the subsidy period, and to use the subsidy fully on paying wages for their employees.
- Subsidies are calculated on 50% of wages at a “specified month”, subject to a wage cap of $18,000 (i.e. maximum subsidy of up to $9,000) for six months.
- Employers may choose any month from January to March 2020 as the “specified month”. Will be disbursed to employers in two tranches, with the first before end-June 2020.
Supporting the Unemployed
- Temporarily relax the asset limits for able-bodied applicants of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) Scheme by 100% for 6 months.
Enhancement to the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme
- Special 100% concessionary low-interest loan to be introduced for which the Government provides 100% guarantee.
- Loans under the 80% and 90% guarantee products will enjoy an interest subsidy up to 3% and be open to application by listed companies, both valid for 1 year.
- Maximum loan amount for all loan guarantee products will also be raised:
|Maximum Loan Amount Raised to|
|80% guarantee product||$18 million|
|90% guarantee product||$8 million|
|100% special guarantee product||$4 million|
$21 Billion for Providing 16 Types of Support for Specific Sectors
- Further support will be given to help business sectors tide over current difficulties through one-off grants, cash subsidies, rental waivers, etc
- MTRCL to provide 20% fare reduction, for period of six months between 1 July 2020 to 1 January 2021.
- Temporarily relax the monthly public transport expense threshold of the Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme from $400 to $200 for period of July 2020 to December 2020.
Further Strengthen Support to Enterprises
Announced on April 9, the Government will enhance the Dedicated Fund on Branding, Upgrading & Domestic Sales (BUD Fund) and the SME Export Marketing Fund (EMF) to support Hong Kong enterprises. The respective measures are:
- For the BUD Fund, the cumulative funding ceilings of $2 million for each enterprise to undertake projects in the Mainland or projects in the economies with which Hong Kong has signed Free Trade Agreements will be removed. This will enable those enterprise flexibly make use of the total funding of up to $4 million to expand to new market.
- Enterprises participating in virtual exhibitions organised by Government-related organisations or reputable exhibition organisers with good track records will be eligible for funding support under the BUD Fund.
- New round of measures are launched by the Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation (HKECIC) for one year to support Hong Kong’s export trade, including the provision of free pre-shipment cover on approved buyers for Small Business Policy (SBP) holders in all of the corporation’s insured markets.
- Credit limits of all buyers for SBP holders in HKECIC-insured markets will be increased by 20% with a maximum of $5 million, plus a provision of an extra 20% discount on premiums for SBP holders.
Tax Payment Deadlines Automatically Extended
To ease the financial burden and cash flow of businesses and individuals arising from COVID-19, the government announced on April 8 that tax payment deadlines for salaries tax, personal assessment and profits tax demand notes for the year of assessment 2018/19 which fall between April to June of this year are automatically extended by three months.
Those taxpayers for salaries tax, personal assessment and profits tax who have already settled the first payment in accordance with the demand note for the year of assessment 2018/19, the deadline for the second payment will be automatically extended for three months.