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Financial Secretary

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Happy consumption to boost our economy

The Cash Payout Scheme (the "Scheme") has been operating smoothly since it started to receive registration on June 21. Out of the 5.76 million registrations received so far, over 80 per cent were submitted electronically through banks, among which about 60 per cent were done through Internet banking. As the banks have already kept record of their client's personal information, authentication procedures could be streamlined and the processing of registrations could be speeded up, at the same time releasing system capacity for handling other procedures.

Thanks to the support of the citizens, efforts made by the team, as well as the efficiency brought by digitalisation, about 4.3 million eligible citizens registered electronically via banks on or before June 30 will start receiving payment within two to three days from tomorrow (July 6), which is two days earlier than our original plan. People submitting electronic registration via banks from July 1 will also receive payment about one week after registration. For those not yet registered, I encourage them to register electronically through banks to receive payment through bank account transfer. For those submitting paper registration forms, they will also receive the payment later this month or next month by phases.

It is expected that more than HK$ 40 billion funding will be disbursed to the citizens' accounts in the coming week, and people registered subsequently will also receive their payment in turn. This lump sum of money not only will boost local consumption, but also trigger spill over effects to benefit other services sectors. The monthly value of total retail sales and the monthly income of the catering industry in Hong Kong are about HK$ 27 billion and HK$ 7 billion respectively. Therefore, even if only part of that tens of billions of funding flows into the market, effect will be shown for certain. The coming two months would be a golden period for consumption for local restaurants, shops and enterprises, providing substantial support in stimulating the economy and safeguarding jobs. I understand that the catering industry is pursuing a large-scale promotional discount campaign and different shops and malls are going to launch various concessionary plans to attract consumers.

Some elderlies shared with me that they planned to spend the cash payout on dining and clothing.

Some may doubt about the stimulus effect of the tens of billions of funding as not all of the funding will be spent in the market after the payment is credited to citizens' bank accounts. In fact, consumer behaviours are often influenced by atmosphere and spending confidence. People buy and consume for many different reasons. While some are for basic needs, many consumptions are triggered by atmosphere and mood. Yesterday, I joined a social enterprise in Kowloon to give out meal boxes. Many elderlies shared with me happily that they planned to spend the cash payout on dining and clothing. I believe the Scheme could help creating a good consumption atmosphere and stabilising people's confidence in spending.

Indeed, no matter how much we have spent, the feeling and power of working hard together is far more important. And no matter how we are going to spend, when we do it with friends and family members, we can feel relaxed and happy, and the care and love in between.

Although I have yet to register for the cash payout, I have already spent them "in advance" to sponsor a social enterprise's free meal boxes to elderlies in need, and order cookies from another social enterprise for children in NGO's sheltering homes. Love can grow by sharing. By sharing what we have with family, friends, and those in need, we can bring care and love to them, and are indeed blessed.

Yesterday, I joined a social enterprise in Kowloon to give out meal boxes to elderlies in need.

The National Security Law in the Hong Kong SAR has come into effect and safety and stability are being restored gradually in the society. Let us join hands together to create a good atmosphere for consumption, so as to provide room for our struggling economy to recover and safeguard the livelihoods of the workers and their families. With the implementation of the HK$290 billion of supporting measures from the two rounds of Anti-epidemic Fund and the Budget, subsidies have been gradually delivered to the targeted sectors and citizens. Coupled with a stable and peaceful society and continuous improvement of the external environment, hopefully economic recovery will start to be seen later this year.

July 5, 2020


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