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Lifting of HK travel alert prompts optimistic outlook
( 2003-06-03 09:35) (8)

Businesses affected by SARS in Hong Kong have seen improvements since the World Health Organization lifted its travel advisory, said a government survey Monday.

Government economist Tang Kwong-yiu told a Legislative Council Financial Affairs Panel that the economic situation in Hong Kong is improving. A Financial Services Bureau survey found business receipts of the 500 companies interviewed dropped by about 7 percent a week after the travel alert was removed - less than the 8.5 percent and 9.2 percent falls in the previous two weeks.

The companies are optimistic that the situation will improve inthe coming month. They see an even more upbeat picture three months ahead.

Financial Secretary Antony Leung said Monday in a legislative meeting that in view of the fact that Hong Kong's economy was adversely affected by the SARS outbreak, the forecast growth rate in real terms of GDP in 2003 has been trimmed from 3 percent to 1.5 percent.

In addition, the government has also adjusted its forecast consumer price index from -1.5 percent to -2.5 percent, he added.

He said the government has, with the approval of the Legislative Council, set aside 1 billion Hong Kong dollars (0.13 billion US dollars) to organize a special campaign to relaunch Hong Kong's economy.

In addition, the government will also try its best to create short-term jobs to ease the pressure on the job market.

He hoped that good news on closer economic co-operation would flow from a discussion between Hong Kong and the mainland next month.

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