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Jan retail sales up 0.9%

The value of total retail sales in January, provisionally estimated at $36.5 billion, rose 0.9% compared with the same month in 2023, the Census & Statistics Department announced today.   After netting out the effect of price changes over the same period, the provisional estimate represents a 1.2% year-on-year decrease.   Of the total retail sales value in January, online sales accounted for 6.5%. Provisionally estimated at $2.4 billion, the value of this segment went down by 20.9% compared with a year earlier.   Noting that retail sales tend to show greater volatility in the first two months of a year due to the timing of the Lunar New Year, the department said the year-on-year comparison of the figures might have been affected to a certain extent.   The value of sales of jewellery, watches and clocks, and valuable gifts increased 25.2% compared with January 2023.   Increases were also recorded in the sales of other consumer goods not elsewhere classified (up 7
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Tenders invited for operation contract

The Housing Bureau today invited tenders for the operation and management contract of the first Light Public Housing (LPH) project, and encouraged capable and experienced organisations to submit bids.   The project, located at Yau Pok Road in Yuen Long, will provide about 2,100 LPH units, with intake tentatively scheduled in the first quarter of next year.   The scope of the contract mainly covers occupant management, property management, daily maintenance as well as the provision of social services, and the management and operation of ancillary facilities.   To encourage participation of different stakeholders in the community, the bureau welcomes tenders from all capable and experienced service providers, including non-government organisations and those with a valid property management company licence, or a collaboration between them.   The bureau will carry out a technical assessment based on the management capability, relevant experience and past service performance

Restoring WTO dispute system urged

Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Algernon Yau called on World Trade Organization (WTO) members to support the restoration of a fully functioning dispute settlement system during the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, yesterday.   At a meeting on dispute settlement reform, Mr Yau said the dispute settlement system has functioned as a cornerstone of global trade, creating stability and predictability. He added that to have a well-functioning system restored this year, as was mandated at MC12, would serve the interests of all WTO members and of the global business community.   He stressed that Hong Kong, China has been involved in every stage of the reform process in relation to dispute settlement and will continue its active participation.   Speaking at another meeting, on development, Mr Yau said that the Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement is a very much a pro-development agreement.   He highligh

Xia Baolong concludes HK visit

CPC Central Committee Hong Kong & Macao Work Office Director and State Council Hong Kong & Macao Affairs Office Director Xia Baolong today concluded his seven-day inspection visit to Hong Kong by viewing the Shenzhen Bay Control Point.   Accompanied by Chief Executive John Lee, Commissioner of Customs & Excise Louise Ho, Acting Director of Immigration Tai Chi-yuen and Under Secretary for Security Michael Cheuk, Mr Xia inspected the operation and traveller clearance services at the control point, and was informed about the situation during the Lunar New Year holidays when round-the-clock passenger clearance services were provided.   In addition, Ms Ho and Mr Tai briefed Mr Xia on the immigration and customs clearance arrangements for travellers at the passenger terminal building.   They also highlighted the measures taken during peak hours, festive periods or holidays to divert passenger flows, noting that such measures help ensure a smooth operation at the contr

Govt determined on islands project

(To watch the full press conference with sign language interpretation, click here.)   Financial Secretary Paul Chan today said the Government is determined to carry out the reclamation of the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands.   At the 2024-25 Budget press conference this afternoon, Mr Chan noted that two of the Government’s mega projects - the Northern Metropolis and the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands - which involve reclamation, did not need to be implemented at the same time and could follow one another.    “At the moment, the Northern Metropolis mega project is proceeding very well. And we are proceeding at full speed with regard to the feasibility and technical studies relating to the reclamation.   “Given the time required to do the studies and take stock of the findings of the studies in order to roll out mitigating measures, if there are any, we do think we could allow ourselves a little more time.”   The finance chief pointed out that based on the studies, the

Let the market adjust itself: FS

(To watch the full press conference with sign language interpretation, click here.)   Financial Secretary Paul Chan said today that the decision to remove all demand-side management measures in relation to residential properties was made after taking into account the current market situation, future supply, and the wider economic picture.   Mr Chan announced in his Budget that no Special Stamp Duty, Buyer’s Stamp Duty or New Residential Stamp Duty needs to be paid on residential property transactions starting from today.   Elaborating on the measures outlined in his Budget at a press conference this afternoon, Mr Chan explained that the demand-side management measures are no longer necessary given that current supply and demand are more balanced.   He noted that the potential supply of first hand units for the next three to four years will be around 109,000 units, while there are currently about 20,000 unsold units in completed projects.   “The market conditions hav

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