Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Thursday, Feb. 20:
Shorter license tenor adds risks to casino operators, analysts say
Shortening the tenor of gaming licenses will make it more difficult for casino operators to control their investment risks, causing uncertainties that will affect their prospects and valuation, analysts said. Discussion on the issue and other requirements, such as investment plans, increased tax and fees for renewals, could last for two to three years. The six existing licenses are due for renewal in 2020 and 2022. Sources told HKEJ earlier that Macau authorities are likely to cut the license tenor to five years from the maximum 20 years.
Legislators’ bid to halt debate on punitive property stamp duty rejected
Lawmakers will continue the debate on an amendment bill regarding punitive stamp duty on property Thursday. Concerns over the rule of law and potential circumvention were raised on Wednesday as authorities have suggested using a regime that will enable the government to adopt a new policy before debates in the Legislative Council. Transport and Housing Bureau chief Anthony Cheung said such a regime can ensure prompt response to market changes.
China to surpass Japan as biggest market for UNIGLO, executive says
Interview: Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. (06288.HK) sees the Greater China market overtaking Japan to become the largest contributor to sales of its subsidiary UNIQLO in five to 10 years, said Takeshi Okazaki, executive vice president and chief financial officer. The group plans to open 80 to 100 new stores in the region each year to expand to tier-three and tier-four cities in mainland China, Okazaki said, adding that net income overseas is expected to grow 30 percent for the year ending this August. The apparel brand currently has a presence in 50 cities in China.
John Tsang defends role of pillar industries in Hong Kong economy
Financial Secretary John Tsang rejected criticism that Hong Kong has overly relied on the city’s four pillar industries, namely trade and logistics, finance, tourism and professional services. The four sectors contributed 60 percent of the city’s gross domestic product, he said, adding that very few major cities have four pillar industries. He dismissed criticism about over-reliance on the four sectors as “weird”.
Journalists plan to hold march for press freedom
Hong Kong journalists plan to stage a rally on Sunday to reaffirm their opposition to curbs on press freedom. The Hong Kong Journalists Association will hold a march from Chater Garden in Central to the Chief Executive’s Office in Tamar. They had originally planned to hold the rally outside the government headquarters in Tamar, but their request was rejected as a pro-government group plans to hold a rally to express concern about media ethics.
Slowdown in property market casts shadow on US economic recovery
A fall in housing starts in the United States in January, the biggest drop since February 2011, shows a clear showdown in the nation’s property market. Taken together with the weakening of manufacturing activities, the US economy can be said to be mired in uncertainty. Although cold weather may be one factor behind the slowdown, the over-reliance on housing market and consumption for growth has exposed the fragility of the foundation of economic recovery, and shows the urgency for industrial restructuring.
New consumption tax on visitors fair amid HK congestion, Lian says
The introduction of a consumption tax for inbound visitors is a fair way to stop further shrinking of public spaces for Hong Kong residents due to the massive influx of visitors from overseas, former HKEJ chief editor Joseph Lian wrote. Lian said the levy is not discriminatory against mainlanders. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying should explain to the central government the rationale behind the levy. If Beijing remains unconvinced, Leung should decide which is more important: the interest of Hong Kong people or the feelings of mainlanders.
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