Every adult citizen in Hong Kong — roughly 7 million people — will be given 10,000 Hong Kong dollars (the equivalent of $1,280) in an effort to boost the territory’s economy amid political unrest and fears over the Coronavirus outbreak.
The giveaway is part of a massive spending initiative the government announced in its annual budget Wednesday.
“I have decided to disburse $10,000 to Hong Kong permanent residents aged 18 or above, with a view to encouraging and boosting local consumption on the one hand, and relieving people’s financial burden on the other,” Financial Secretary Paul Chan said.
According to Yahoo News, Hong Kong will dip into its massive stockpile of fiscal reserves totaling more than 1 trillion Hong Kong dollars to pay for the handout, which Chan estimates will cost 71 billion Hong Kong dollars.
“The social incidents in the past months and the novel coronavirus epidemic have dealt a heavy blow to Hong Kong’s economy,” Chan said as he introduced the measure. “Making good use of fiscal reserves to support enterprises and relieve people’s hardship is certainly in line with our people’s expectations,” he added.
The news comes after months of economic and political unrest in the city resulting from pro-democracy demonstrations and the U.S.-China trade war. When a surge of Coronavirus infections hit the city, it only accentuated the economic downturn.
Chan acknoledges that “Hong Kong’s economy is facing enormous challenges” and is predicting a growth range of -1.5 percent to 0.5 percent for the coming year. But he hopes that the new budget initiatives will see the economy through its first recession in a decade.
“In the medium term, the economic outlook of Hong Kong remains positive,” he said.