Hong Kong earmarks over $1 bln for inflation relief

2008-07-18 14:40:48 GMT       2008-07-18 22:40:48 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

HONG KONG, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Members of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Friday endorsed a decision by the HKSAR government to allocate 8.5billion HK dollars (1.09 billion U.S. dollars) to help citizens, particularly the disadvantaged, cope with inflation.

The HKSAR government has taken into account views from different sectors of the community in devising relief measures, said Chief Secretary Henry Tang.

The funding includes additional one-off assistance for social-security recipients which would cost 1.87 billion HK dollars (240 million U.S. dollars) and benefit 490,000 recipients of the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, 120,000 recipients of the Disability Allowance and 470,000 recipients of the Old Age Allowance.

Other measures also include two rent-free months for eligible public housing tenants and licensees, which cost 1.68 billion HK dollars (215 million U.S. dollars), additional electricity charges subsidy of 4.4 billion HK dollars (564 million U.S. dollars), and one-off grant for needy students at the cost of550 million HK dollars (71 million U.S. dollars), the HKSAR government said.

The relief measures will be implemented as soon as possible, Tang said, adding that the old age allowance, fuel prices and a minimum wage were also under scrutiny.

Tang said the HKSAR government had been "prudent in financial management" and that the one-off relief measures would not have a great impact on public finance.

One of the freest economies in the world, Hong Kong had been seeing mounting inflation pressures recently amid a largely global trend in inflation, prompting the HKSAR government to adopt measures aimed at relieving the inflation pressure, particularly for the disadvantaged. (7.8 HK dollars = 1 U.S. dollar)

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