The Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang said today (Friday) that the long term prospects of Hong Kong's economy and the labour market would be significantly enhanced by two significant recent developments, namely China's imminent accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the decision to build the Hong Kong Disneyland.
"The further liberalization of China's market following its accession to the WTO will create new business and employment opportunities for Hong Kong," Mr Tsang said after chairing the 16th meeting of the Task Force on Employment.
"Hong Kong Disneyland will open up a new page in Hong Kong's history as an international tourism destination. It will generate many new jobs in the near to medium term", he added.
Phase I of the development will generate direct economic benefits not only for the tourism industry, but also indirect spin-off effects to the rest of the economy. The project is expected to produce an estimated $148 billion boost to the economy over a 40 year period.
Around 16,000 man-years of construction employment will be created arising from the land formation work, the construction of infrastructure and other facilities for Phase I of the theme park.
Upon its opening in 2005, the theme park will generate a total of 18,400 new jobs, and rising to 35,800 jobs when the theme park matures.
"Around 80 per cent of the 35,000-odd new jobs (i.e. some 28,700 jobs) are at the elementary level which can be filled by young school leavers as well as our low-skilled workers," Mr Tsang remarked.
The meeting also discussed the operation of the Admission of Talents Scheme.
Under the Scheme, only those people who possess exceptional qualifications and skills not readily available in Hong Kong will be admitted. They will help enhance the competitiveness of the local manufacturing or service industries, and facilitate the development of knowledge-intensive, high value-added activities. It will also help create complementary jobs for the local workforce. Mr Tsang stressed that the Government would strictly adhere to the prevailing policy of giving priority to the employment of the local work force.
"Hong Kong needs a critical mass of talents to kick-start development in innovation and technology. The admission of talents will supplement the labour market with expertise which Hong Kong lacks," Mr Tsang said.
The Government intends to conduct a comprehensive review of the scheme one year after its commencement.
At the meeting, Members were also briefed on the progress of other measures to tackle unemployment:
* The Labour Department's job placement figures have increased for sixth month in a row. In October, the Department successfully found jobs for 4,810 job-seekers, which represents the highest number of successful placements since the employment service was launched.
* Under the Youth Pre-employment Training Programme, 8,430 young people have received training. The first batch of over 700 trainees have started their attachment training in late October or early November. Another 3,000 trainees are expected to start their attachment training in the coming two weeks.
* Major infrastructural and public works projects to be carried out in the next six months, including the Science Park at Pak Shek Kok Phase I, West Rail Phase I, East Rail Extension to Ma On Shan, etc, will create over 12,000 new job opportunities.
End/Friday, November 19, 1999