March 25, 2004



Hong Kong Announce HK$42 Million Aid For Poultry Industry


The government is applying for a special fund grant from the Legislative Council Finance Committee to help the industries affected by the live poultry import ban from the mainland.


The HK$42 million package will benefit poultry farmers, wholesalers, retailers and transport operators, who have all been suffering from financial losses since the ban became effective on January 30 as a result of the outbreak of avian flu.


Imports of chilled and frozen poultry from the mainland resumed on Monday.


The finance committee will consider a grant proposal at a special meeting on Friday. In a paper to the Legislative Council, the Health, Welfare & Food Bureau said H5N1 avian flu outbreaks have been reported in eight countries - including China, Japan, Viet Nam and Thailand - since early December 2003.


H5N2 and H7 viruses were also reported in Pakistan and the United States.


Immediate steps were taken to temporarily suspend imports of live birds and poultry from the affected places.


In the light of the severity of the recent avian flu outbreaks in the region, imports of live poultry from the mainland are not likely to resume before May, the bureau said.


Thus HK$40,000 will be granted to each stall of live poultry wholesalers.


As for retailers, HK$30,000 will be paid to those at public markets and HK$50,000 to licensees operating in private buildings.


Live poultry transporters will receive HK$24,000 per lorry based on transportation records, while chicken farmers will be paid HK$10,000 per licence if their business has been affected for three or more months.


Three-month rental waivers are also granted to operators who run their business at government-owned markets.