About 7 million people in Hong Kong will receive a cash handout of $10,000 Hong Kong dollars (roughly $1,280 in U.S. dollars) this year.
The big giveaway, which was unveiled in the country's annual budget on Wednesday, will benefit permanent residents over the age of 18 in an effort to boost the territory's damaged economy.
"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," said Financial Secretary Paul Chan.
The handout comes after months of political unrest that has seriously impacted Hong Kong's economic landscape, which entered a recession in the third quarter of last year. "Social unrest and turbulence have revealed deep-seated conflicts in our community, which cannot be resolved overnight," Chan said. "We need to address these conflicts patiently and carefully as they have a far-reaching impact on the stability and development of Hong Kong in the future."
The more recent threat of coronavirus, which has rapidly spread throughout China and beyond, has further paralyzed the struggling economy. Chan said that the outbreak has "dealt a severe blow" to the economy in Hong Kong, adding to the severe hits that the tourism industry faced due to the social unrest.
Despite the devastating impact, Chan has hopes that the economy will recover once the epidemic is over.
The one-time payout is set to cost the government around $71 billion Hong Kong dollars but Chan reassured those skeptical of its financial impact, stating that it will not "impose a burden on our long-term fiscal position."
In addition to the cash, the 2020-21 budget details many other ways the government hopes to stimulate the economy. Those include covering the cost for candidates sitting the 2021 university entrance exams, supporting enterprises by waiving business registration fees and injecting $700 million Hong Kong dollars into the Hong Kong Tourism Board to improve territory's external promotion after the coronavirus epidemic.
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