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FS explains voucher, duty proposal

Financial Secretary Paul Chan today responded to questions concerning his 2021-22 Budget speech, such as the proposed consumption voucher scheme and increase in the stamp duty on stock transfers.   During a radio show this morning, the finance chief was asked if the Government would offer the public another option to receive cash instead.   Mr Chan stressed that the Government put forward the electronic voucher option after considering public views.   "On the consumption voucher (scheme), the idea is to try to encourage those spending in domestic shops within a short period of time. Over the past two days, we have been listening to views from members of the public.   "The policy consideration, in fact, this year is to try to use this money to help revive domestic consumption and the economy. That's why we chose to use consumption vouchers instead.   "Please do acknowledge that the scope of spending is very wide. People can use it to go to markets, to go to

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Year-end population drops

The provisional estimate of Hong Kong’s population was 7,474,200 at end-2020, down 0.6% from 2019, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.   There were 43,100 births and 49,800 deaths, resulting in a natural population decrease of 6,700 for the first time.   There was also a net outflow of 39,800 people, with an inflow of 10,100 one-way permit holders and a net outflow of 49,900 other Hong Kong residents.   The number of usual residents was 7,401,000, while that of mobile residents was 73,200.   The Government explained that largely due to the boundary control and quarantine measures in place in Hong Kong and other places around the world, as well as the severe interruption of international travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a substantial drop in the inflow of people, such as one-way permit holders, foreign domestic helpers and those coming to work or study in Hong Kong under various admission schemes, was seen in 2020.   Among others, the number of one-way permit holders who arrived in Hong Kong in 2020 showed a year-on-year decrease of 74%.   Meanwhile, Hong Kong residents who had left the city before the pandemic may have chosen to remain outside Hong Kong. Such a decrease might have contributed to the net outflow of Hong Kong residents.   The Government noted that a net movement, which includes the movement of Hong Kong residents into and out of the city for various purposes including work and study, is conceptually different from immigration and emigration.   It said being an international city, Hong Kong's population has always been mobile.   In the last five years from 2016 to 2020, net outflows of Hong Kong residents other than one-way permit holders were recorded in all years except 2018, the Government added.
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