Hong Kong’s financial secretary has announced a HK$10,000 cash handout to all permanent residents over the age of 18 in a bid to boost local consumption and ease economic woes in light of a fiscal deficit.
The relief measure involving an estimated expenditure of around HK$71 billion came amid negative economic growth since the second half of last year and the city’s first deficit in 15 years as the economy took a hit from the US-China trade war, large-scale protests and the coronavirus outbreak.
But Paul Chan remained confident that fiscal reserves, previously estimated at HK$1.1 trillion, could weather the cost of the handout.
“I consider that, with ample fiscal reserves, the government has to increase public expenditure amid an economic downturn to stimulate the economy and ride of the difficult times with members of the public,” he said as he delivered his fourth budget blueprint at the legislature on Wednesday.
Chan also announced a salary tax cut of 100 per cent for the 2019-20 year up to a ceiling of HK$20,000 – set to benefit 1.95 million taxpayers and cost HK$18.8 billion.
Other relief measures for the public:
- Rates for residential properties for 2020-21 will be waived up to a ceiling of HK$1,500 per quarter – estimated to involve 2.93 million properties and cost HK$13.3 billion.
- Eligible social security recipients will benefit from an extra month of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance payments, Old Age Allowance, Old Age Living Allowance or Disability Allowance. A similar arrangement will be rolled out for the Work Incentive Transport Subsidy. It will cost around HK$4.23 billion.
- Lower-income tenants in government public housing will have a month of rent waived, with a total cost of HK$1.83 billion.
- Exam fees for students sitting the 2021 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination will be waived, at a cost of about HK$150 million.
Relief measures for business:
- Profits tax will be reduced by 100 per cent for the 2019-20 year to benefit 141,000 taxpayers at a cost of HK$2 billion.
- Business registration fees will be waived for 2020-21, benefitting 1.5 million business owners at a cost of HK$3 billion. Company registry fees for annual tax returns will be waived for two years to benefit 1.4 million firms at a cost of HK$212 million.
- A concessionary low-interest loan of up to HK$2 million will be provided to enterprises under the SME Financing Guarantee Scheme.
- Rates for non-domestic properties for 2020-21 will be waived up to a ceiling of HK$5,000 per quarter in the first two quarters and a ceiling of $1,500 per quarter in the remaining two quarters for each non-domestic property. 420,000 properties will benefit, at a cost of HK$3.2 billion.
- Non-domestic electricity accounts will enjoy a 75 per cent discount up to a ceiling of HK$5,000 for four months, at a cost of HK$2.9 billion. Likewise, water and sewage costs will be discounted by 75 per cent up to a cap of HK$20,000 and HK$12,500 respectively, costing HK$340 billion.
- Local recycling firms will see a rental subsidy for six months, costing HK$100 million.
- Tenants of government properties, government land and EcoPark will see rent discounts of 50 per cent, costing HK$573 million. Rent and fees for eligible operators of properties will be slashed by 50 per cent, costing HK$265 million.
- Hirers of civic centres under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will enjoy discounts of 50 per cent for six months, costing HK$23 million.
“In preparing this budget, I put the focus on ‘supporting enterprises, safeguarding jobs, stimulating the economy and relieving people’s burden,’ Chan said.
“Hong Kong may have all sorts of shortcomings, but it is our home which allows diversity and freedom of development. Even if we have been disappointed, we can choose to feel hopeful for our future. Even if we are striving for different goals, we can work together to put aside our differences, make room for resolving conflicts, and drive Hong Kong forward,” he said in his concluding remarks.
300 more sailings, BC Ferries loosens restrictions – Times Colonist
B.C. Ferries is loosening some restrictions and increasing capacity as summer travel within the province grows.
Passenger numbers have risen to about 70 per cent of what they were at this time last year, said Tessa Humphries, communications manager for B.C. Ferries. In the early days of the pandemic, they were about 20 per cent of normal.
Passenger capacity had been capped at 50 per cent, but that restriction is being phased out to increase service, Humphries said.
That level was set by Transport Canada, which gave operators a choice between limiting capacity and implementing enhanced cleaning and physical- distancing measures.
Humphries said B.C. Ferries implemented both measures at first but has now decided to phase out the capacity limit. B.C. Ferries consulted with Transport Canada on the change, she said.
Enhanced physical-distancing and cleaning protocols, including clear plastic barriers and face- coverings, remain in place. Passengers are asked whether they’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms prior to travel, and those in vehicles are allowed to remain inside their cars.
More than 300 sailings per month have been added on major routes between the Island and the Lower Mainland since the start of June. The company is aiming to keep capacity about 20 per cent above demand, Humphries said.
“We will have fewer sailings than in summer schedules of the past, but significantly more than what was available as a result of the service cuts in April,” she said.
The company has also added an additional vessel on the route between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay on Fridays and Sundays, and a second vessel on the route that services the southern Gulf Islands on Thursdays through Mondays.
“We did also hear from the communities that there was a struggle for capacity there,” Humphries said, adding that it wasn’t uncommon for sailings on Gulf Islands route to be completely booked.
Passengers travelling by car are encouraged to book in advance or choose less busy times to travel.
Humphries said B.C. Ferries expects it will take a couple of years before passenger numbers return to pre-pandemic levels.
Onboard food services have resumed on some minor routes, including between Swartz Bay and the Gulf Islands, and the Passages gift shop reopened Friday on sailings between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen. Packaged food and limited hot food resumed on three major routes between the Island and the Lower Mainland in June.
The Lands End Café in the Swartz Bay terminal also recently reopened. Markets in the Departure Bay and Tsawwassen terminals reopened in late June.
The drop in ferry traffic has cost B.C. Ferries millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Humphries said the company is evaluating the financial situation daily and reopening onboard amenities will provide another revenue stream.
“But we’re all doing all of that carefully and gradually, as well as safely reintroducing these services,” she said.
Canada halts Ukraine puppy imports; New rules against vaping ads: CBC's Marketplace Cheat Sheet – CBC.ca
Miss something this week? Don’t panic. CBC’s Marketplace rounds up the consumer and health news you need.
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Canada puts temporary halt on puppies from Ukraine
Canadian officials are temporarily halting the importation of puppies from Ukraine after more than 500 dogs were found crammed on a plane last month, and dozens died. But animal welfare advocates say the change isn’t expected to put an end to the international puppy trade targeting Canadians.
Marketplace‘s David Common reports.
Health Canada ban on vaping ads to take effect in August
In the wake of mounting research suggesting that vaping use is on the rise among teenagers, Health Canada is prohibiting advertisements for vapes in areas where youth may be exposed to them. The ban applies to all retail locations and online stores that sell e-cigarettes, except for adult-only establishments. Read more about the changes.
Fashion retailers scrambling during the pandemic. Here’s what they’re doing to survive
It’s no secret that malls and department stores have been struggling over the last few months, but some businesses may be more poised to weather the storm than others. Larry Rosen, the CEO of Harry Rosen, says his company is surviving by taking advantage of federal support programs and shoring up its liquidity, but that competitors who came into the crisis with a lot of debt are already at risk. Read more about how companies are trying to fight back.
The pandemic isn’t over. But for Maple Leaf Foods workers, the extra pay is
Maple Leaf Foods is no longer paying employees an extra $2 an hour for working during COVID-19.
That’s drawing criticism from employees at the company’s plant in Hamilton who say if the risk of working hasn’t subsided, neither should the pay.
“At the start, they gave us T-shirts that said ‘Not all heroes wear capes’ and we really loved those shirts. When we got them we felt, ‘OK, they really appreciate us,'” says Chris Bernard, the chief union steward at the plant.
“Now it just doesn’t feel like we’re heroes anymore. They’re saying we’re not worth [an extra] $2 an hour.” Read more about the Maple Leaf Foods workers speaking out.
What else is going on?
Uber is getting into the grocery delivery business in Canada
The program will be piloted in Toronto and Montreal.
DavidsTea to ‘significantly reduce’ number of stores and shift to online selling
The company is restructuring under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act, which covers insolvent companies.
Riveted Mesh Floor Lamp recalled due to risk of fire hazard
Certain models of this lamp, sold at Restoration Hardware may overheat, posing a fire risk.
Daiya brand Classic Vanilla Creme Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert recalled due to undeclared milk
People with an allergy or aversion to milk should not consume the product.
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Tesla Model Y Price Drops — New Cost of Ownership vs. Lexus RX – CleanTechnica
July 11th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
Tesla has dropped the price of the Model Y by a few thousand dollars, with the starting price now at $49,990*. Meanwhile, the Performance trim is down to $59,990 and has more features included by default as well as 11 miles more range.
$50,000 is a lot of money for a vehicle (unless you’re rich enough that it’s not), but what’s most notable with the Model Y is how much better it is than anything else in its class with regards to performance (both its 0–60 mph time or 0–30 mph time and its handling), infotainment (Tesla’s infotainment system is second to none, and it’s not even close), driver-assist features (Tesla Autopilot is second to none, and it’s not even close), and cost of operation.
This Model Y price drop provides an opportunity to get to something I haven’t done yet — cost of ownership analyses for the Model Y compared to its closest competitors (even though, as I noted above, there really are no close competitors on the market right now).
To start with, here’s a look at 5-year cost of ownership forecasts for the Tesla Model Y versus the Lexus RX:
As always, assumptions are a big deal in a cost of ownership analysis. People have widely different lifestyles and prices of several inputs vary by region. Furthermore, you may have a different estimate of what you expect in the next 5 years with regards to gas prices, your personal electricity/charging prices, the resale values of these SUVs, and maintenance costs. As always, I encourage you to steal my sheet (copy it) and put in the numbers that fit best for your life and your expectations about the future.
According to my best guess on some averages, the Tesla Model Y Long Range is absurdly cheaper than the Lexus RX and even the Model Y Performance is cheaper — despite having more cargo capacity, better acceleration, a better passenger experience, better infotainment, and greater safety. Why would anyone buy a new Lexus RX in 2020? I have no clue. Actually, I take that back — people still buy this and other models because of inertia. Most people have never sat in a Tesla. Most people have never driven a Tesla. Most people have never compared the specs and costs of a Tesla Model Y and a Lexus RX. They go back to Lexus because they’re familiar with Lexus. They have a notion in their heads about Lexus being a great brand that they acquired years ago, without the taste of Tesla to put it in context. Now, as for anyone who goes and test drives a Tesla Model Y and a Lexus RX and chooses a Lexus RX — that person, if they exist, baffles me.
As a final note, keep in mind that Tesla still isn’t selling the lowest cost version of the Model Y, the Model Y Standard Range Plus, which may start around $40,000 once available. Ooo, baby!
Standard Range+ — $38,000
Long Range — $47,000
Performance — $55,000
Standard Range+ — $40,000
Long Range — $50,000
Performance — $60,000
— Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) July 11, 2020
*Interestingly, I think it’s worth noting finally that someone got a hold of CEO Elon Musk at some point and made him change his policy on pricing. He used to prefer rounding the price up or down to the closest thousand or at least even hundred, and noted at least once that he found pricing like this annoying. I agree — just make the price an even $50,000. Though, dropping $10 off the price somehow moves minds — everyone knows it, but it still works — and sometime back Tesla decided to play the game and do pricing like $49,990. Frankly, perhaps more than anything else, this makes me think that even Tesla gets concerned about demand to some degree. Dropping the price by $3,000 passes along the same implication.
Want to buy a Tesla Model 3, Y, S, or X? Feel free to use my referral code to get some free Supercharging miles with your purchase: https://ts.la/zachary63404. No pressure. You can also get a $250 discount on Tesla solar with that code.
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