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CPD and sports and recreation events

 

In view of the stable coronavirus situation in Hong Kong, face-to-face events, both continuing professional development and sports and recreation, will resume from 2 July 2020 (Thursday).

 

For the latest advice, guidance and other updates, from the Institute, regulators and other bodies, please visit our regularly-updated COVID-19 – CPA Information Centre webpage.

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The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants welcomes 2020-21 Budget relief measures to mitigate negative impact of new challenges

26 February 2020

(Hong Kong, 26 February 2020) In response to the 2020-2021 Budget, the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA) welcomes the HKSAR Government’s 2020-21 Budget announcements, especially the one-off relief measures intended to help the Hong Kong public mitigate the negative impacts of the coronavirus outbreak, the aftermath of last year’s social unrest, and the US-China trade tensions. 

Commenting on the 2020-2021 Budget, Mr Johnson Kong, President of the HKICPA, said: “The Financial Secretary expects a deficit of about HK$139.1 billion next year, which is around 4.8% of GDP. If the one-off income and relief measures are removed from the equation, the deficit would be about 2% of GDP, which would still be within international norms (generally not higher than 3%).” 

“Despite the urgency of the additional expenditures to mitigate the negative impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, government spending is still controlled. Hong Kong’s financial reserves should remain sufficient to support these counter-cycle stimulus measures. Overall, we welcome the government’s intention to put money back into people’s pockets amid these challenging times.” 

The aftermath of last year’s social unrest and this year’s coronavirus epidemic is wreaking havoc on the Hong Kong economy, and is now affecting almost all members of society. The HKICPA therefore finds the HK$10,000 cash handout scheme, in which Hong Kong permanent residents aged 18 years and above will benefit, an understandable and reasonable response. However, not all beneficiaries need the assistance, so those who are not in need of the cash assistance should consider donating the money to those in greater need.

Mr. William Chan, Deputy Chair of the HKICPA’s Taxation Faculty Executive Committee (“TFEC”), said: “We believe the HK$10,000 cash handout scheme can help relieve some of the economic pressure on the public caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. We hope that the cash will be distributed as soon as possible with minimal red tape and obstacles. We would encourage recipients to spend the money in Hong Kong as a way to boost the local economy, especially in the distressed sectors, such as food and beverage (F&B) and retail.” 

The HKICPA believes that the relief measures will result in multiple benefits to certain groups of the community. Mr So Kwok Kay, the TFECs’ Past Chairman, said: “The general public is set to benefit from a raft of relief measures such as cash handouts, tax rebates and rates waivers. Meanwhile, social security recipients will receive an additional month’s allowance, and public housing tenants will benefit from one month’s rental subsidy. Having said that, we would hope that the government will provide more support for the so-called ‘n-nothing’ households through the Community Care Fund.” 

The fiscal deficit projected for next year is within the expectations of the HKICPA, and is in a large part a result of the one-off relief measures. Despite the large deficit, Hong Kong's ample fiscal reserves allow it to undertake this fiscal stimulus. Nonetheless, in the medium term, recurrent revenue is expected to fall short of recurrent expenditure over the next five years, resulting in a structural deficit on the operating account. 

Therefore, the HKICPA urges the government to increase and diversify revenue sources and keep its expenditure in check, to maintain fiscal stability. 

Mr So added: “We are concerned about Hong Kong’s financial situation in the medium- to long-term. The government should explore new revenue streams, to stimulate economic growth, improve the tax system structure, and broaden the tax base. On the expenditure side, the demands on government spending will keep increasing due to population ageing. The government should explore means to control public spending without compromising the quality of public services.”

The HKICPA has long been advocating a systematic review of Hong Kong’s tax system; and acknowledges the fact that the government has responded to the recommendations made by the HKICPA, and will be canvassing opinions from economists, experts and the wider business community. Efforts should be made to ensure Hong Kong’s tax system is compatible with international tax developments. The HKICPA believes that these endeavours will have positive effects on Hong Kong’s tax- and business-friendly environment. 

 

 

經濟環境嚴峻 香港會計師公會認為財政預算案有助紓困

 

(香港,二零二零年二月二十六日)香港會計師公會歡迎政府的二零二零至二一年度財政預算案,反映特區政府在新型冠狀病毒疫情及經濟下滑的情況下助市民應對難關。

新公佈的財政預算案提出了不少紓困措施,針對市民面對疫情、社會事件、環球經濟放緩及中美貿易爭議持續等連串不明朗因素時的需要。香港會計師公會會長江智蛟先生表示:「財政司司長預計來年會錄得1,391億港元的赤字,相當於本地生產總值4.8%。若把一次性的收入及紓困措施剔除,赤字將約為本地生產總值的2%,是國際間可接受的水平(一般不高於3%)。儘管受疫情影響政府要作額外支出,情況尚可接受,香港的財政狀況應足夠支持政府在經濟逆周期下的民生支出,公會歡迎政府與市民共渡時艱,在財政預算案推出多項一次性的紓困措施。」

由於過去一年的社會事件及新型冠狀病毒疫情對本港經濟造成重大衝撃,不同階層的市民都受影響,公會理解政府向18歲或以上的香港永久居民發放1萬港元現金的措施,惟相信並非所有收益者均需要此現金援助,因此鼓勵無需要的市民將款項捐助給有需要的人士。

公會稅務師會執行委員會副主席陳錦榮先生說:「我們認為一次性現金分派有助直接紓解市民當前的經濟壓力,公會希望現金分派方式應以少關卡為原則,並鼓勵市民留港消費,以幫助本地餐飲及零售業。」

公會認為政府的多項紓解民困措施,讓部分市民可多重受惠。公會稅務師會執行委員會前主席蘇國基先生說:「普遍市民可從現金分派、退稅及差餉等措施中受惠,領取綜緩人士可獲發多一個月的津貼、公屋租戶亦可獲代交一個月的租金,建議政府可從關愛基金的資源為『N無人士』提供更多支援。」

公會認為基於政府推出多項一次性紓困措施,來年財政赤字屬預料之內,目前的儲備足以應付。然而,從中期預算中可見,經常性收入追不上經常性支出,預料未來連續五年將錄得結構性赤字。

長遠而言,公會認為政府須開源節流,以維持財政穩健。蘇先生說:「我們關注香港中長期的財政狀況。開源方面,公會認為政府應探討如何振興經濟、完善稅制結構、拓闊稅收來源。開支方面,由於人口老化,未來政府的公共開支將不斷提升,政府應在維持公共服務水平的前提下,節約開支,以維持財政穩健。」

事實上,公會一直倡議本港要全面檢討稅制,並留意到預算案回應了公會的建議,將廣納學者、專家及商界意見,使香港的稅制配合國際稅務新發展。公會認為此舉對維持本港稅務及營商競爭力有正面作用。

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