Responses regarding the Budget 2022-23
The Financial Secretary delivered the Budget 2022-23 on 23 Feb. I am pleased that the Budget had adopted many of the suggestions of mine and my alliance members, in particular those measures regarding $10,000 electronic consumption vouchers, providing a tax deduction for domestic rental expenses, introduction of a series of measures to support small and medium enterprises, etc. The SAR government must make active arrangements for economic recovery in the “post-epidemic era”. I have repeatedly urged the government to increase investment in public works projects, let infrastructure to drive economic recovery, and activate all walks of life.
Passage of funding application for sixth round of Anti-epidemic Fund by LegCo
On 15 Feb, the Finance Committee passed the funding application of $27 billion for the sixth round of the Anti-epidemic Fund (AEF). The sixth round of the AEF comprises 48 schemes which are estimated to benefit 67,000 businesses, operators of 40,000 transport tools and 750,000 individuals. Overall, the relief measures under the sixth-round of the AEF belong to the following four categories: (i) relief for premises that are required to be closed or have their business significantly restricted by the tightening of social distancing measures; (ii) relief for businesses that are hard hit by the pandemic and indirectly affected by the tightening of social distancing measures; (iii) support for individuals working in the hard-hit business and frontline staff who have been making contributions to anti-epidemic efforts; and (iv) support for the short-term/ temporarily unemployed.
Funding projects approved at the PWSC meeting
At the PWSC meeting on 23 Feb, members approved a total allocation of $21.8 billion for 2022-23 for the block allocations under the Capital Works Reserve Fund. Another funding project of $104.4 million was approved for construction of public transport interchange and carrying out associated road improvement works to support the proposed public housing development at Tak Tin Street. The projects together with the others would be forwarded to the FC for final funding approval.
Vaccine Pass Arrangement at Construction Sites in Hong Kong
The Construction Industry Council (CIC) and the industry’s labour unions and trade associations have decided to implement the Vaccine Pass arrangement on all construction sites in Hong Kong, starting with a trial run on 7 Mar. Construction workers and site personnel (including visitors) are mandated to receive at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine except for the exempted parties. The first stage will be implemented on 14 Mar and second stage will be implemented on 14 Apr. At stage 2, all construction workers, staff members and site personnel are required to have received at least two doses of vaccine to enter any construction sites.
Professional Services Advancement Support Scheme invites new round of applications
The Professional Services Advancement Support Scheme (PASS) is inviting a new round of applications starting 1 Mar for non-profit-distributing organisations such as professional bodies, trade and industrial organisations and research institutes. The maximum grant under the PASS for each approved project is $3 million or 90 per cent of the total eligible project cost, whichever is lower. A wide range of professional services, such as accounting, legal and dispute resolution, architecture, engineering, healthcare, information and communications technology, design and technical testing and analysis, are eligible to apply for the PASS.
Distribution of rapid test kits to the engineering and construction organisations
With Hong Kong facing an onslaught from the fifth wave of the pandemic and considering the rising demand for COVID-19 testing, the use of rapid test kits allows simple and quick self-testing and reduce the risk of going out. I helped distribute COVID-19 rapid test kits to several organisations of the front-line engineering and construction staff and hope this help to offer them the necessary support during the pandemic.