April 14 - 20, 2020
Anti-epidemic funding approved
The second round of US$17.6 billion Anti-epidemic Fund measures were approved by the Legislative Council Finance Committee. Welcoming the passage of the funding application on Apr 18, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said it would enable the Hong Kong SAR Government to implement a wide range of relief measures as soon as possible to relieve the imminent need of businesses, employees and the public. She added that various departments would implement the relief measures at full steam to achieve the effect of safeguarding jobs and supporting enterprises. Given the epidemic's unprecedented impact on Hong Kong's economy, the Government has to dig deep into its fiscal reserves accumulated over the years to help the city's businesses and people.

Financial institutional strength and core competitiveness remain strong
The Hong Kong SAR Government expressed disappointment (Apr 20) with Fitch’s latest credit assessment on Hong Kong, pointing out that the decision reflects a disproportionate emphasis on prevailing socio-political issues without giving due recognition to the strong fundamentals underpinning the local economy and financial market. The COVID-19 pandemic had dealt an unprecedented and severe blow to the global economy, and the impact on Hong Kong was no more significant than on other places. The Government has rolled out massive relief measures totalling US$36.8 billion to preserve the vitality of the economy and to help businesses and people endure the current hardship. Despite the unprecedented challenges, Hong Kong’s institutional strengths and core competitiveness are unscathed and the city’s financial markets and banking system are functioning normally.  
Banks to ease cash flow pressure
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority together with the banking sector launched (Apr 17) a scheme to alleviate the cash flow pressure faced by corporate customers in light of the economic challenges brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak. Under the Pre-approved Principal Payment Holiday Scheme , which is estimated to cover more than 80% of all corporate borrowers in the city, all corporate customers that have an annual sales turnover of US$102.5 million or less, with no outstanding loan payments overdue for more than 30 days are eligible for the Scheme. Eligible customers’ loan principal payments due within a six-month period between May 1 and October 31 this year will be pre-approved for deferment. The scheme does not cover syndicated loans or loans used for financing purchases of shares or other financial assets.
Enhancements for loan program
The total guarantee commitment of the Special 100% Loan Guarantee under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme has been increased to US$6.41 billion. The maximum loan amount per enterprise has been increased to US$512,820 and the principal moratorium arrangement has been extended to the first 12 months. The Special 100% Loan Guarantee has started accepting applications from April 20, for one year.
Positioning for the future
Amid the challenging and unprecedented times, Invest Hong Kong (InvestHK) continues to support its clients and partners in navigating through the complex and rapidly changing environment, said Director-General of InvestHK Stephen Phillips. Its team around the world, including in New York, stand ready to help in tackling immediate issues as well as how to position businesses post-pandemic.
Independent prosecutions and judicial independence assured
The Hong Kong SAR Government reiterated (Apr 19) that investigations by law enforcement agencies and prosecutions by the Department of Justice are carried out in strict accordance with the law . The Police are duty bound to handle every case in a fair, just and impartial manner and prosecutors have been discharging their constitutional duty independently and professionally, without fear or favor. The rule of law is a core value in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong SAR Government always respects and protects human rights and freedoms. However, it is important to understand that the enjoyment of these rights has limits so as not to affect adversely to an unacceptable level the enjoyment by other members of their community of their rights and liberties. The Chief Justice also reiterated on April 15 that judicial independence is guaranteed under the Basic Law and is the main component of the rule of law in Hong Kong.
New testing arrangements for asymptomatic visitors
Starting April 22, all asymptomatic inbound travellers arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport must wait for their COVID-19 test results at a designated location before being allowed to leave for a 14-day compulsory quarantine. Passengers arriving by flights in the early or late morning will stay at the Temporary Specimen Collection Centre at AsiaWorld-Expo to wait for same-day results, while those arriving in the afternoon or at night will be taken to a nearby hotel to wait for test results. Separately, Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection announced that no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 was recorded on Apr 20 (as of 4pm Hong Kong time), leaving the number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong at 1,025 so far.
More local mask production lines approved
Five additional local mask production lines have been approved (Apr 17) under the Local Mask Production Subsidy Scheme. Each production line is expected to supply an average of 550,000 to 2 million masks every month. To date, a total of 13 production lines have been approved under the Scheme. This is an effort by the Hong Kong SAR Government to facilitate local production of masks to help address the shortage as well as to build up stock.
  • The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January - March grew to 4.2%, up from 3.7% in the previous three-month period. The underemployment rate also increased to 2.1% in the period. Total employment dropped by 48,800 to 3,720,000.
  • Foreign assets that represent the external assets of Hong Kong's Exchange Fund was at US$458.2 billion, a US$10 billion decrease from the previous month. The monetary base amounted to US$215.3 billion.
Hong Kong and its Basic Law
The Basic Law (BL) is the constitutional document of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Put into effect on July 1, 1997, it enshrines within a legal document the important concept of “One Country, Two Systems". 

Q: Does the HKSAR enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial powers?
A: Yes. The National People’s Congress authorizes the HKSAR to exercise a high degree of autonomy and enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial powers, including that of final adjudication. The Chief Executive heads the HKSAR and the Government of the HKSAR. The Executive Council, consisting of members appointed by the Chief Executive, assists the Chief Executive in policy making. The legislature, which is constituted by election, enacts legislation, while the judiciary exercises judicial power independently free from interference. ( BL Articles 2; 16; 17; 19; 43; 54; 55; 66; 68; 73; 85 )

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