Mr President, Honourable Members and fellow citizens,
I move that the Appropriation Bill 2020 be read a second time.
2. 2019 was an unsettling year fraught with obstacles and an unforgettable one for all Hong Kong people.
3. Early last year, we had already foreseen that our economy would be subject to considerable uncertainties due to the US-China trade conflict and other external factors. However, no one could have predicted that social incidents would break out in the middle of the year, which not only hit our economy but also broke our hearts. Before we could sort things out, there was an unexpected outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease.
4. Preventing and fighting against the epidemic, as well as deploying resources to alleviate the pressure on enterprises and the general public are our top priority. Last week, we established the $30 billion Anti-epidemic Fund to relieve the burden on those industries and employees in the eye of the storm.
5. In preparing this Budget, I put the focus on "supporting enterprises, safeguarding jobs, stimulating the economy and relieving people's burden". I am well aware that financial resources alone are not enough to tackle the challenges we are facing. However, making good use of fiscal reserves to support enterprises and relieve people's hardship is certainly in line with our people's expectations towards the Government under the current difficult environment.
6. Therefore, I have decided to implement counter-cyclical measures of a massive scale involving above $120 billion so as to meet the public's expectations as far as possible. Although a record high deficit is envisaged in next year's budget, I believe that only with such a budget can we help our community and local enterprises ride out their difficulties. I will go into more details about this in the ensuing paragraphs.
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