Hong Kong announced Wednesday that it will offer a relief package worth $37 million to businesses that were affected by last year’s pro-democracy protests. Financial Secretary John Tsang reportedly said that the protests may have diminished "investors' confidence in Hong Kong."
Tsang, in his annual budget speech, said that the measures would include waiving license fees for 26,000 restaurants and other food outlets for six months, The Associated Press reported, adding that administrative fees for taxis and buses would also be waived off. Tsang also urged the city’s government to make economic stability a priority following the Occupy Central demonstrations, which lasted for 11 weeks and at their peak attracted over a million supporters, affecting life in the city-state’s financial district.
"Prolonged political bickering is detrimental to public administration and the international image of Hong Kong as a stable, law-abiding and efficient city. It may even dampen investors' confidence in Hong Kong," Tsang said.
Last year, demonstrators protested in Hong Kong demanding full democratic rights to elect the city's leadership. The protests began in September 2014, after Beijing declared that the city's residents could only pick a leader from a group of candidates approved by the ruling Communist Party of China.
The protests divided Hong Kong and "also aroused concern about much more radical social conflict which in turn will make it harder to mend conflicted relationships among people," Tsang reportedly said in his speech.