The Hong Kong government is exploring possible measures to help businesses that have been hurt by the pro-democracy protests that are now into their fourth week in the city.
Credit-card spending has plunged as major shopping areas have been hit by Occupy protests, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah wrote on his blog Sunday, adding that the government has started to collect data to assess the impact of Occupy on the economy.
“Preliminary data shows that retail and catering industries in relevant districts have been hurt badly,” Tsang wrote, RTHK noted. “Overall credit-card spending has dropped considerably.”
The impact would soon be reflected in short- and medium-term economic data, Tsang said. While the financial markets remained stable, investors should brace for short-term volatility, he added.
Meanwhile, some foreign investors are shifting to a wait-and-see stance on short-term investments in Hong Kong, Tsang said.
The finanace chief said the issue “involves the livelihood of small business owners, jobs of a large number of employees and the well-being of hundreds and thousands of families”.
He urged protesters to leave the streets as soon as possible, saying they have already made their voices heard.
“The Occupy movement has already made a deep impression in Hong Kong and all over the world,” he said, adding that scheduled talks between government and students represent a “positive development”.
“All participants should make their judgment calmly,” he said. “Leaving the streets is not an easy decision, and it takes great courage. But I still believe you would make the right decision at a critical moment.”
Tsang criticized the clashes that took place in Mong Kok over the weekend, saying the developments showed that some people want to ruin public order just for the sake of it. “They are messing around in the movement; students and citizens should break up with them.”
Lester Shum, the deputy secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, responded that demonstrators in Mong Kok have abided by the principle of “peace and nonviolence”. He urged Tsang to pay a visit to the protest site to see things himself.
– Contact us at [email protected]