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FS outlines fiscal consolidation plan

In the 2024-25 Budget announced today, Financial Secretary Paul Chan proposed a number of measures to increase revenue and outlined a fiscal consolidation programme which aims to restore fiscal balance in a few years’ time.   Mr Chan said even though the Government strived to reduce expenditure as the COVID-19 pandemic had subsided, the total expenditure for 2023-24 reached $727.9 billion, representing an increase of 36.9% compared with 2018-19, of which operating expenditure rose substantially by 40.2% whereas operating revenue increased only 13.1%.   On capital works, owing to the fact that the Government has been pressing ahead with land and housing supply projects, along with other infrastructure works for improving the environment and people’s livelihood, the average annual expenditure has increased from about $76 billion over the past five years to about $85 billion in 2023-24.   Fiscal reserves have dropped to the current level of $733.2 billion.   Fiscal consoli

Welfare cases up 0.2%

The overall Comprehensive Social Security Assistance caseload rose to 224,895 in December, up 0.2% from November, the Social Welfare Department announced today.   The total number of recipients stood at 319,200.   Low-earnings cases registered a month-to-month decrease of 1% to 2,520 cases while old age cases were down 0.2% to 130,647.   Ill-health cases rose 0.8% to 26,056 cases. Single parent cases were up 0.4% to 24,760 cases while permanent disability cases increased 0.1% to 17,377 cases.   Unemployment cases continued to increase, rising 2.2% on a monthly basis to 19,506 cases. The figure is also an increase of 55.2% compared with December 2019.   The number of applications of unemployment cases increased 12.2% to 1,045 cases in December, representing a 65.1% year-on-year increase.
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