Hong Kong budget for fiscal 2015/16: Highlights

Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour on Jan 28, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour on Jan 28, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (Reuters) - The following are highlights so far of Hong Kong's budget for the 2015/16 fiscal year starting in April, being presented by Financial Secretary John Tsang.

ECONOMY

- Q4 GDP up 2.2 per cent year-on-year. Full-year 2014 GDP up 2.3 per cent year-on-year

- Forecasts 2015 GDP growth 1-3 per cent

- Expects 2015 headline inflation at 3.5 per cent. 2015 underlying inflation at 3 per cent

"Our economy grew by only 2.3 per cent last year, the third consecutive year with a growth rate lower than the annual average of 3.9 per cent over the past decade," Tsang said.

POST-OCCUPY BUSINESS SUPPORT MEASURES

- Waive licence fees for 1,800 travel agents and 2,000 hotels and guesthouses for six months

- Waive licence fees for restaurants and hawkers for six months, benefiting 26,000 restaurants and operators

- These support measures and promotion efforts, costing HK$290 million, to help rebuild confidence in Hong Kong

- Inject HK$1.5 billion into the SME Export Marketing and Development Funds, helping 320,000 small and medium enterprises in the city

PERSONAL RELIEF MEASURES

- Reduce profit tax for 2014-15 by 75 per cent subject to HK$20,000 ceiling, benefiting 130,000 taxpayers and reducing government revenue by HK$1.9 billion

- Reduce salaries tax and tax under personal assessment for 2014-15 by 75 per cent subject to ceiling of HK$20,000, benefiting 1.82 million taxpayers and costing government HK$15.8 billion of revenue

- Waive property tax for the first two quarters of 2015-16, subject to a ceiling of HK$2,500 per quarter for each rateable property, reducing government revenue by HK$7.7 billion

- Provide an extra old age and disability allowance amounting to HK$5.5 billion

- Increase the basic and additional child allowances from HK$70,000 to HK$100,000 from 2015-16 onwards.