Briefing by the Financial Secretary on Hong Kong’s latest overall economic situation
Growth in inflation
Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted with concern that consumer price inflation had been on a rising trend since the second quarter of 2021, and had grown further in the first four months of 2022, with food prices recording a year-on-year increase of 3.8% alongside visible increases in transport, electricity and gas prices. Members enquired about the responsive measures to be taken by the Administration and if it had any plans to impose control on the prices of food, transport and energy should the inflation rate in Hong Kong reach figures similar to those recorded in the US and some European economies. He also urged the Administration to resolve transportation disruption related problems which had driven up the prices of goods and inflation.
FS stressed that the Administration had been keeping a close watch on the prices of different types of staple food which were strongly linked to the livelihood of the public. While basic food (fresh vegetables in particular) prices posted a visible increase of 4.7% due to epidemic-induced transportation disruptions, the problem had gradually subsided with the resumption of stable food supply from the Mainland. Regarding overall inflation, although the underlying rate stood at about 1.6% in the first quarter of 2022, slightly up from the last quarter of 2021, it was envisaged that the annual underlying and headline inflation rate of 2022 would be 2% and 2.1% respectively, partly due to moderate private housing rentals which was a major component of the Composite Consumer Price Index. With Hong Kong being a service-based economy, the increase in energy prices should have limited impact on the overall economy.
Development of financial technologies in Hong Kong and measures in tackling financial fraud
Development of Commercial Data Interchange
Mr CHAN Chun-ying noted the anticipated launch of CDI by end-2022 which would allow financial institutions, with the consent of enterprises, to obtain their commercial data from third-party platforms for conducting more accurate credit analysis, and suggested that the Administration should consider constructing a platform for sharing individuals’ credit data by building on the one-stop personal digital service “iAM Smart”, similar to the Myinfo platform introduced by the Singapore Government. HKMA advised that the coverage of CDI was currently limited to corporate commercial data rather than individuals’ credit data.
Measures in tackling financial fraud
Mr CHAN Chun-ying expressed concern about the rising number of social media ramp-and-dump scams, and urged the Administration to step up investigation and enforcement against the fraudsters, including the management of the listed companies concerned.
SFC advised that apart from stepping up public promotion and education, SFC also collaborated with the Hong Kong Police Force (“HKPF”) and other local and overseas regulatory authorities to conduct joint operations against ramp-and-damp syndicates, and held joint press conferences with HKPF and the above authorities to remind the public about stock trading scams and risks involved in VA trading on unregulated platforms. SFC also froze the assets of securities accounts suspected to be related to ramp-and-damp syndicates by issuing restriction notices under sections 204 and 205 of SFO.