Summary of the COVID-19 relief measures

April 9, 2020
NOVA, as your reliable business partner, knows it may be a hard time for most of the business, thus we had highlighted some of the measures in response to the challenges arising from the COVID-19 virus, which had announced by the Chief Executive, Mrs. Carrie Lam, in yesterday (8 April 2020) involving over $130 billion to help business stay afloat and protect workers in the employment market. Here are some key points which may benefit your business.

1. Proposals on job retention, job creation and job advancement

- Implementing the Employment Support Scheme ($80 billion). All employers who have been making Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) contributions for employees are eligible. The wage subsidy to be provided by the Government is calculated based on 50% of the monthly salary, which is capped at $18,000, for six months.

- To provide support to employers in the catering, construction and transport (mainly taxi and red minibus drivers) sectors which are not completely covered by the MPF scheme (involving about 800 000 persons).

- To grant a one-off subsidy to self-employed persons who made MPF contributions (about 215 000 persons).

- The CSSA asset limits for an able-bodied applicant will be increased by 100% for 6 months.

- To invest $6 billion to create around 30 000 time-limited jobs (up to 12 months) in the public and private sectors in the coming two years for people of different skill sets and academic qualifications, benefitting professionals and technicians, fresh graduates, middle level and grassroots workers.

- Use HK $ 21 billion to provide 16 support projects to aid specific industries, including industries that were ordered to be closed.

- Optimize the “SME Financing Guarantee Scheme”, increase the maximum loan amount, extend the application period and allow the application of listed companies.

2. Rental, Licence Fee and Water Fee

- To increase rental concessions for eligible businesses/organisations operating in government premises from 50% to 75% from April to September 2020.

- To increase the rental or fee concessions from 50% to 75% in respect of eligible short-term tenancies and waivers administered by the Lands Department (LandsD) from April to September 2020.

- To extend the 75% waiver of water and sewage charges payable by non-domestic accounts for another four months from August to November 2020.

- To waive the registration/enrolment fees for some 125 000 healthcare professionals for three years starting from July 2020 as a token to recognise the contribution of healthcare professionals in the fight against the epidemic.

3. Transportation

- MTRCL to provide a 20% fare reduction for a time-limited period of six months between 1 July 2020 and 1 January 2021.

- To temporarily relax the monthly public transport expense threshold of the PTFSS from $400 to $200 for a time-limited period of six months between July 2020 and December 2020.

4. Loan Repayment and Tax

- To grant one-off interest-free deferral of loan repayment for two years to self-financing post-secondary institutions under the Start-up Loan Scheme, non-profit-making international schools and students receiving loans from the Working Family and Student Financial Assistance Agency (WFSFAA).

- Deadline for payment of tax for the year of assessment 2018/19 that will be falling due will be automatically extended for three months.

5. Education

- Catering outlets (namely, tuck shops, canteens and restaurants): relief grant of $80,000.

- Lunchbox providers: relief grant of $10,000 (per school).

- School bus drivers, school private light bus drivers and nannies: relief grant of $10,000 (per driver/per school bus for nannies).

- Instructors, coaches, trainers and operators of interests classes engaged by schools: relief grant of $7,500 for each eligible individual.

6. Other relief through Government facilitation

- Airport Authority Hong Kong will budget $2,000 million to provide further relief measures for the aviation sector.

- The HKMA has adjusted its regulatory standards so that banks can lend loans, free up HK $ 1 trillion in loan space, provide customers with a specific time period to”repay interest only" arrangement, and provide emergency liquidity for specific industries.

-The Insurance Authority and industry stakeholders rolled out a package of relief measures. For instance, all major insurance companies have proactively offered a grace period of premium payment up to 30 to 180 days for holders of individual life, critical illness and medical policies. The policyholders should contact their insurance companies or intermediaries to apply for deferment of premium payment.

- Relevant departments will extend the deadline for project completion per contract mechanism and/or relax the payment schedules of Government works and non-works contracts, as well
as extend the Building Covenant (BC) period for development projects by up to six months in land leases.

If you have any questions on the detail for the above, please refer to the supplementary information of "Fight the Virus and Get through the Difficult Times Together" by The Government of HKSAR.

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