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Financial Secretary

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Hand in hand

I went to Aberdeen to yum-cha yesterday and listened to people's views on the Consumption Voucher Scheme.

Registration for the Consumption Voucher Scheme (the Scheme) has started for two weeks. As at last midnight, over 6.1 million registrations have been received. Most people have duly completed the registration but some may have provided wrong input in their registration form, for example outdated issue date of ID card, hence need to resubmit the correct information. Many registrants have already received the SMS notification which confirms that their registration is successful and sets out the date that they will receive the first voucher - about 5 million plus registrants who have completed the electronic registration will get their first voucher on 1 August.

To grasp the business opportunities brought by the Scheme, some restaurants have rolled out 30% off promotion since mid-July to attract customers. I invited Tommy Cheung, the Legislative Council representative of the catering sector, to yum-cha yesterday. Many people in the restaurant told me joyfully that they had already registered for the Scheme and shared with me their upcoming plans in spending the vouchers. I am grateful for the recognition and support we have received from citizens for the scheme. Electronic consumption not only brings more convenience to our daily lives, but also encourages merchants to launch more concessions, bringing benefit to both businesses and customers, and in turn our society, economy and the job market.

During a taxi ride yesterday, the taxi driver also told me that business had slightly improved and the economy had been recovering. He has installed e-payment device on the taxi, and observed that passengers using e-payment have been increasing recently. He hoped his business could get even better when consumption vouchers are released later.

Hong Kong's economy has indeed shown a noticeable improvement since entering this year. The economy ended the recession of six consecutive quarters in Q1 this year and recorded a 7.9% growth. This growing trend keeps going. The unemployment rate has receded from the peak level of 7.2% early this year to the level of around 6% in May. The latest unemployment rate figure of April to June will soon be announced this week, which is expected to be getting better and returns to the level of about one year or so ago. Nonetheless, even if the overall economy is turning better, many sectors are still facing difficulties and many people's lives are still under great pressure. For the full recovery of our economy, we have to continue with our anti-virus efforts. I also appeal to you all to get vaccinated so as to create a more favourable environment to facilitate the recovery of our economy.

I went to Aberdeen to yum-cha yesterday and listened to people's views on the Consumption Voucher Scheme.
I went to Aberdeen to yum-cha yesterday and listened to people's views on the Consumption Voucher Scheme.

Looking back at the preparation and implementation process of the Scheme, there are some thoughts I would like to share. While the Scheme has good policy intention, it is a new initiative with challenges in implementation. Many people might have doubts and uncertainties towards the Scheme when it was first announced. Through communications, we then understand people's thinking and made appropriate responses. By leveraging the power of the stored value facility operators and the market, we have maximised the value of the consumption voucher and encouraged more merchants to adopt e-payment method. When the Scheme was launched, besides doing the promotion and explanatory works through the media, we worked with different parties and local groups in a concerted approach to carry out promotion at the community level, such as explained directly to the citizens and helped them in registrations. We also timely addressed the hiccups popped out at the beginning of the launch. We went through every step cautiously and carefully. With all the assistance and support from both inside and outside the Government, hopefully the Scheme would continue to run smoothly. After experiencing the violent acts and the blow dealt by the persisting epidemic, all of us should join hands in building a better Hong Kong. The Government, political parties, business sector and the community should work together and show care and acceptance to each other.

I went to Aberdeen to yum-cha yesterday and listened to people's views on the Consumption Voucher Scheme.

I attended a thematic seminar on the one-year anniversary of the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law last Friday. Undoubtedly, a safe and stable environment is the prerequisite for economic and social development and the implementation of any policies. After one year of implementation, the Hong Kong National Security Law has helped restore stability and safety in Hong Kong. Security and development are the two sides of the same coin. After stepping out from chaos and restoring governance, Hong Kong is now at the critical moment for future development and prosperity. We have to fully utilise our unique advantage under the “One Country, Two Systems” arrangement and actively integrate into the national development plan of our Country, with a view to creating a promising vision for Hong Kong and setting out clear working targets. As Xiao Baolong, the director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council said, we could only get our wellbeing by fighting hard for it. There will always be resistances and difficulties when we work out the solutions for the deep-seated problems in Hong Kong, such as land and housing and wealth disparity. Only by having a strong will and determination, taking the overall interests of the people and the society as the guiding principle and uniting all the power in our community, we could make concrete steps to address people's hardship, and become a responsible and capable patriotic administrator of Hong Kong.

July 18, 2021


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