A cleaning company owned by leading property developer and a major charity were among the biggest beneficiaries of the Hong Kong government’s latest round of wage subsidies to keep people employed during the coronavirus pandemic.
About HK$2.8 billion (US$361.3 million) was distributed to 7,600 businesses covering 125,000 workers in the eighth tranche of subsidies, the government said on Thursday. Other well-known companies receiving help were SmarTone, Modern Terminals, British Airways and Shangri-La hotels.
The government has so far given HK$43.9 billion to 148,500 employers in a bid to avoid mass lay-offs during the health crisis, which has worsened the economic slump the city is facing following months of social unrest and the protracted trade war between the United States and China. The jobless rate remains at a more than 15-year high, although it eased slightly to 6.1 per cent for the rolling three-month period between May and July.
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The biggest beneficiary in the latest round was Nixon Cleaning, a subsidiary of Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP), the city’s biggest developer by market capitalisation. It has 4,171 workers and received about HK$63.9 million. Next in the line was Guardian Property Management under the Savills Guardian Group, which pocketed more than HK$57.1 million for its 2,542 workers.
The Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, a major charity that runs hospitals and schools along with providing welfare services to the needy, was third, receiving HK$50.8 million for its 2,095 workers.
Security service firm Certis Centurion Facility, which employs 2,855 people, took HK$46.2 million,
SHKP subsidiary SmarTone Telecommunications collected HK$38.1 million, while Hong Kong Broadband Network received HK$32.9 million, for their combined 2,675 staff.
China Aircraft Services, a joint venture among China National Aviation Corporation, United Airlines, China Airlines and Gama Group, and which employs 1,092 people was given HK$27.7 million. British Airways took HK$1.6 million for its 60 workers in the city. Modern Terminals received HK$24.8 million for its 897 staff.
Shangri-La hotels, with 692 workers, was given about HK$20 million.
The Employment Support Scheme is part of the government’s HK$81 billion coronavirus relief scheme. Companies are given wage subsidies for up to six months in two tranches to cover half of employees’ pay, capped at HK$9,000 a month per worker.
So far, 18,300 applications have been rejected, while another 2,000 successful ones will be notified this week, according to the government. They will receive about HK$500 million for a total of 23,000 employees.
The government announced details of the second tranche of the scheme on Tuesday, with the two-week application window opening on August 31.