Top government officials said a relief package worth HK$19 billion announced on Thursday was not a government response to the ongoing political crisis that has gripped Hong Kong since June, but was instead aimed at boosting the local economy, which is experiencing a downturn.

“The measures that we have just announced are economic measures, trying to tackle the current economic difficulties and the coming economic headwind. It is not related to the political difficulties that we are facing,” Financial Secretary Paul Chan said.

“I refer to the political difficulties in order not to cause any confusion between the two. I just want to make sure our friends in the media and public know where we are [coming] from.”

The beleaguered Carrie Lam administration had been accused of paralysis and inaction by critics and even some allies. Some pro-government political parties have been putting pressure on the government to get proactive, warning they could face a strong backlash during the upcoming district council election in November.

But Chan and other officials said the purpose of the measures was not to quell public discontent.

“You may ask whether these measures are in response to political pressure as a result of the extradition bill incident. I can tell you the two are not related at all,” he said.

“The purpose of the measures is to relieve the burdens of SMEs and our people. Through these measures we hope that the people of Hong Kong would be able to maintain their confidence in the economy and spend more,” said Chan.

He said this is just like government taking precautions ahead of a typhoon.

“When the typhoon signal number 3 is hoisted and … expect a direct hit [later], we should take the necessary precautionary measures,” the secretary said.

Commerce Minister Edward Yau also echoed Chan’s remarks. The measures we announced are not what protesters are demanding, he said, so you can’t say this is in response to the agitation.