Following is the transcript (English part) of a stand-up media briefing given by the Financial Secretary, Mr Donald Tsang, after the 16th meeting of the Task Force on Employment today (Friday):
Financial Secretary: We held the 16th meeting today. The Employment Task Force of course reviewed the unemployment figures. Although the unemployment figures stabilised (6.2 %) and the underemployment rate stabilised (3.1%), we believe there are signs that there are moderating elements in these. Particularly, the higher rate of 6.2% was largely due to the large number of fresh graduates coming into the employment market. We are likely to see a moderating of these figures as we see greater growth in the economy and greater activities in the economy.
The group also realised that following the financial crisis, there might be structural change in the employment market. Making it necessary for us to concentrate more on the training and retraining of our workers, making sure they are able to cope with the knowledge-based economy of the future. At the same time, the stabilised unemployment rate in Hong Kong is likely to be higher than we used to see of between 2% and 3 %. But this is the sort of things we are likely to review in the days to come.
We have also looked at the major development since our last meeting. The two major developments: one was the commitment to the creation of the theme park with Walt Disney, another one was the imminent accession of our nation to the WTO. Both of them are likely to bring positive result to the labour market and they would create more jobs in the market. Details of which I think you would know.
At the same time, our group also reviewed various schemes we have put in place, particularly the pre-employment schemes that are quite successful. We also looked at the special programme (Admission of Talents Scheme). We are meeting specialists from China. We believe that the scheme is likely to create more jobs and would not deprive the local labour force of their employment opportunities.
End/Friday, November 19, 1999