Hong Kong ditches all property curbs in sweeping move to boost ailing market

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Hong Kong finance chief Paul Chan Mo-po has announced the city will remove all restrictions on property transactions as part of his solutions to the sluggish economy and shrinking fiscal reserves in what some analysts are calling the most difficult budget blueprint ever.

Themed “Advance with Confidence. Seize Opportunities. Strive for High-quality Development”, the budget blueprint unveiled on Wednesday morning included a series of measures to spur growth.

All of the decade-old cooling measures aimed at curbing speculation were scrapped with immediate effect to revive Hong Kong’s depressed property market, with lived-in home prices falling for the ninth straight month in January to a level last seen in 2016.

Fresh funding was earmarked for energising tourism while salary and profit taxes were reduced to ease the financial burden on the public and small and medium-sized enterprises amid the government’s dire financial health.

The financial secretary pledged to take a more targeted approach to spending this year and ditch consumption vouchers for residents as the city’s deficit ballooned to HK$101.6 billion (US$12.9 billion), potentially leaving Hong Kong’s fiscal reserves at their lowest in a decade.

Reporting by Jeffie Lam, Denise Tsang, Lo Hoi-ying, Sammy Heung, Elizabeth Cheung, Lilian Cheng, Natalie Wong, Oscar Liu, Connor Mycroft, Jess Ma, Ambrose Li and Harvey Kong

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