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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

UK arrivals face tighter rules

The Government announced today that people arriving from the UK will be subject to tighter quarantine requirements from June 28, including a 21-day compulsory quarantine at designated quarantine hotels.   The UK, currently a Group B specified place, will be specified as a very high-risk (Group A2) specified place with effect from June 28.   All people who have stayed in any Group A2 specified place on the day of boarding for Hong Kong or during the 21 days before that day have to present at boarding negative result proof of a nucleic acid test for COVID-19 conducted within 72 hours before the aircraft's scheduled time of departure.   They should also present the confirmation of a room reservation in a designated quarantine hotel in Hong Kong.   On arrival, they will be subject to the test-and-hold arrangement at the airport, and on confirmation of negative test results, they must board the designated transport arranged by the Government to proceed to the designated quarantine hotels for 21-day compulsory quarantine.   They will be subject to four tests to be conducted during the period, followed by a seven-day self-monitoring period as well as compulsory testing on the 26th day of arrival in Hong Kong at any community testing centre.    The shortened quarantine period for fully vaccinated people is not applicable to those who have stayed in Group A2 specified places.           Currently, people who have stayed in any Group A1 specified place, Group A2 specified place, Group B specified place or Taiwan during the relevant period are required to present at boarding negative result proof of a nucleic acid test for COVID-19 conducted within 72 hours before the scheduled time of departure of the aircraft.   From June 26, the Government will specify that the relevant test must be a polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based nucleic acid test.    Results of tests conducted using other testing platforms, such as reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) cannot be considered to have fulfilled the relevant specified boarding requirement.   The Government will gazette the relevant updated specifications under the Prevention & Control of Disease (Regulation of Cross-boundary Conveyances & Travellers) Regulation to effect the above measures.
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