Hong Kong unveils $1.51B SARS aid plan

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HONG KONG -- Businesses here hard hit by the SARS outbreak will be getting help from the government.

Tung Chee Hwa, Hong Kong Chief Executive, rolled out a multi-pronged, $1.51 billion economic program April 23 to aid tourism-related and other businesses impacted by the SARS outbreak.

The program includes setting aside $128.2 million for a large scale, post-SARS publicity campaign to encourage the return of tourism and major conventions; $448.7 million in loan guarantees for tourism, entertainment, retail and catering businesses; and waiving for one year certain license fees for tourism related businesses.

Additionally, at least $166.66 million will be spent on disease control, medical research and strengthening of public-hygiene measures and $25.64 million has been earmarked to provide assistance and professional training for health care workers.

"Our priority remains to prevent and control the disease," Tung said in a statement.

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