March 29, 2022
HONG KONG — financial chief is confident the city will ride out the COVID-19 pandemic and revive its slumping economy although the raging fifth wave of infections is projected to plunge the special administrative region into recession in the first quarter of this year.
Writing in his blog on Sunday, Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said the current and most serious wave of the outbreak so far has piled huge pressure on the local economy.
Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po warned that Hong Kong’s situation is still serious amid the pandemic, and the public should continue taking steps to protect themselves
Hong Kong’s latest unemployment rate has gone up by 0.6 percent to 4.5 percent and remains on an upward trend. The stock market is volatile, with the Hang Seng Index fluctuating sharply in the past few months and having sunk by 10 percent. The Hang Seng Technology Index has plummeted by more than 30 percent since late last month, he noted.
Local retail sales are set to end 12 months of growth, having fallen again in February, while exports are likely to slow down. Thus, the economy is expected to contract in the first quarter of 2022, breaking the streak of growth in the previous four quarters.
Despite the gloom, Chan said he’s positive about the city’s economy bouncing back. “I’ve strong faith in Hong Kong’s economic perspectives,” he wrote.
“Hong Kong’s development in the past few decades has taught us that despite storms and difficulties, we don’t need to be discouraged by short-term obstacles.” Chan said, adding that Hong Kong has developed itself as an international hub of finance and commerce, as well as shipping, under ‘one country, two systems’ and with the support of the central government. With that help, the city has contributed to the country in return,” he added
Such objective conditions and needs have formed the most solid foundation for Hong Kong’s future development, he said.
“As long as we have an accurate assessment of the overall situation, grasp the overall trend, actively respond to it, and grasp the development and support of the country, we’ll be able to overcome short-term challenges and move forward.”
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has said the SAR government will launch various measures, including easing curbs on travel and social activities, from next month – a move that has been welcomed by the financial sector.
But, Chan warned that Hong Kong’s situation is still serious amid the pandemic, and the public should continue taking steps to protect themselves.
“As an international city, it’s a to-be-settled problem of how Hong Kong can gradually and orderly reestablish contact with the outside world while realizing the goals of guarding the health and life of its citizens and adhering to its dynamic zero-COVID policy, thereby normalizing cross-boundary travel and other activities with the mainland,” he said.