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Hong Kong pledges $37 million for businesses hit by pro-democracy protests

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Hong Kong announced measures totaling HK$290 million ($37 million) on Wednesday to help businesses hit by more than two months of pro-democracy protests as the government seeks to rebuild confidence in the Asia financial center.

Financial Secretary John Tsang, speaking in his budget address, said the measures included waiving licence fees for 26,000 restaurants and other food outlet operators, and running events to promote Hong Kong to investors and tourists.

The government has warned that the Chinese-controlled city must make economic stability a top priority after the Occupy Central demonstrations to demand free elections paralyzed parts of Hong Kong and unnerved authorities in Beijing.

Tsang also said Hong Kong's economy grew 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 from a year earlier.

A Reuters poll of analysts had expected the economy to grow 2.1 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, compared with growth of 2.7 percent in the third quarter.

Hong Kong's GDP grew 0.4 pct in the last quarter from the previous quarter.