Relieving People's Hardship
28. To provide support for members of the public who have been affected by the epidemic, I will introduce the following one‑off measures:
|(a)||reducing salaries tax and tax under personal assessment for the year of assessment 2021/22 by 100 per cent, subject to a ceiling of $10,000. The reduction will be reflected in the final tax payable for the year of assessment 2021/22. This measure will benefit 2.01 million taxpayers and reduce government revenue by $13.1 billion;|
|(b)||providing rates concession for domestic properties for four quarters of 2022‑23, subject to a ceiling of $1,500 per quarter in the first two quarters and a ceiling of $1,000 per quarter in the remaining two quarters for each rateable property. This measure is estimated to involve 2.99 million domestic properties and reduce government revenue by $11.7 billion;|
|(c)||granting each eligible residential electricity account a subsidy of $1,000. This measure will involve an expenditure of about $2.8 billion and benefit around 2.8 million residential households;|
|(d)||providing an allowance to eligible social security recipients, equal to one half of a month of the standard rate Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payments, Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance or Disability Allowance. This measure will involve additional expenditure of about $2,384 million. Similar arrangements will apply to recipients of the Working Family Allowance, involving additional expenditure of about $117 million; and|
|(e)||paying the examination fees for school candidates sitting for the 2023 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination, incurring $149 million.|
29. We will also lower the threshold for the Public Transport Fare Subsidy Scheme from $400 to $200 from May to October this year. The Government will provide commuters with a subsidy amounting to one‑third of their actual monthly public transport expenses in excess of $200, subject to a maximum of $500 per month. With an increase of $1.08 billion in the subsidy amount, it is estimated that the scheme will benefit about 3.8 million commuters per month.
30. Moreover, I propose to provide a tax deduction for domestic rental expenses starting from the year of assessment 2022/23 so as to ease the burden of renting a private property on taxpayers liable to salaries tax and tax under personal assessment who are not owners of domestic properties, subject to a deduction ceiling of $100,000 for a year of assessment. It is expected that government revenue will be reduced by $3.3 billion. We plan to introduce a bill into the LegCo for scrutiny in the second quarter of this year.
31. The 100% Personal Loan Guarantee Scheme rolled out last year has helped a lot of people. I will extend the scheme for one year until the end of April next year. The maximum loan amount per applicant will increase from six times to nine times of his/her average monthly income during employment, and the ceiling will increase from $80,000 to $100,000. In addition, the maximum repayment period under the scheme will be extended from six years to 10 years, whereas the maximum duration of principal moratorium will be extended from 12 months to 18 months. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the lending institutions will also enhance the flexibility of the scheme to assist those with income substantially reduced under the epidemic.
32. To strengthen support for e‑learning, the Quality Education Fund has set aside $2 billion to launch a three‑year programme starting from this school year, under which subsidies will be provided to schools to purchase mobile computer devices and portable Wi‑Fi devices for loan to needy students. This initiative will facilitate the learning of students from grassroots families during the epidemic.
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