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LCQ11: Hong Kong residents working outside Hong Kong
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     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Raymond Ho Chung-tai and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (January 14):

Question :

     As the financial tsunami has caused global economic downturn, quite a number of Hong Kong residents who used to work outside the territory have recently returned one after another to reside in Hong Kong because they had lost their jobs.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the number, at the end of each of the past three years, of Hong Kong residents who worked outside Hong Kong;

(b) of the impact of these people returning to reside in Hong Kong on the territory's employment and unemployment statistics in recent months;

(c) whether it will assess the number of such people returning to reside in Hong Kong in the coming two years as well as the impact of their return on both the local labour market and the demand for public services, so as to formulate corresponding measures; and

(d) whether the authorities will focus on the special needs (such as short-term accommodation, admission of their children to school and employment) of such people and offer them assistance?

Reply :

President,

(a) and (b) According to the results of the General Household Survey conducted by the Census and Statistics Department, there were some 125,800, 126,400 and 124,000 "Hong Kong residents working outside Hong Kong" in 2005, 2006 and 2007 respectively.  The corresponding figure for 2008 is still being compiled.

     As background information, the current size of total labour force in Hong Kong is 3.65 million (as at Q2 2008).

     "Hong Kong residents working outside Hong Kong" refers to persons in the Hong Kong Resident Population (Note) with usual place of work outside Hong Kong.  However, persons who resided in Hong Kong for less than one month during the six months before and after the reference time-point are not included in the Hong Kong Resident Population, hence they are not covered in the above figures of "Hong Kong residents working outside Hong Kong" either.

     As the General Household Survey does not identify persons who were previously working outside Hong Kong, and returned to Hong Kong solely because of loss of jobs, there are no separate statistics for the number of such persons.

(c) and (d) As mentioned above, since the General Household Survey does not separately identify statistics for the number of persons who were previously working outside Hong Kong and returned to Hong Kong solely because of loss of jobs, there is no basis for us to make any projection or assessment in a scientific manner.

     Notwithstanding this, we believe that the current public services available should be able to address the demand of those in need of short-term accommodation, education for their children and employment-related support services. These respective public services include íV

(i) Short-term accommodation

     Any members of the public who have pressing housing needs because of economic hardship or various reasons and could not resolve such needs by themselves or their families may approach the Integrated Family Service Centres of the Social Welfare Department/ non-governmental organisations for assistance.  Social workers will consider the resources available to the persons concerned and provide appropriate assistance in light of the needs and special circumstances of individual cases.  The assistance may include, for example, short-term financial assistance to meet rental and removal expenses, referrals for applications for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, arrangements for admission to urban hostels for single persons, making recommendations to the Housing Department for consideration of allocation of public rental housing flats under the Compassionate Rehousing scheme, etc.

(ii) Education for children

     The Education Bureau (EDB) will offer adequate education and support services to the newly arrived children (NAC), including returnees from overseas, to help them integrate into local schools and cope with learning difficulties as early as possible. The main support services include the Full-time Initiation Programme, Induction Programme, School-based Support Scheme Grant, etc. As for schooling, the Regional Education Offices of EDB will provide school placement service to NAC and make referrals to schools.  Where appropriate, arrangements will also be made for them to enrol in the Initiation Programme or Induction Programme.

(iii) Employment-related support services

     On employment, the Government at present provides multifarious support services to help the unemployed and people of different backgrounds enter or re-enter the job market.  

     For instance, eligible local residents may apply for training and retraining courses offered by the Employees Retraining Board according to their interests and needs so as to acquire new or enhanced skills for adjustment to changes in the economic environment.  

     Also, the Labour Department provides a full range of employment services to Hong Kong people, including residents who returned from overseas, through its 12 Job Centres, the Telephone Employment Service Centre and the Interactive Employment Service website.  Job seekers who are in need of more personalised and intensive employment service may join the Job Matching Programme under which placement officers will help them evaluate whether their academic qualifications, job skills and work experience match the requirements of the employment market, and assist them to look for suitable jobs.  Job seekers will also be referred to attend suitable training courses where necessary to enhance their employability.

Note: The "Hong Kong Resident Population" includes both "Usual Residents" and "Mobile Residents".  "Usual Residents" include two categories of people: (1) Hong Kong Permanent Residents who have stayed in Hong Kong for at least three months during the six months before or for at least three months during the six months after the reference time-point, regardless of whether they are in Hong Kong or not at the reference time-point; and (2) Hong Kong Non-permanent Residents who are in Hong Kong at the reference time-point.  As for "Mobile Residents", they are Hong Kong Permanent Residents who have stayed in Hong Kong for at least one month but less than three months during the six months before or for at least one month but less than three months during the six months after the reference time-point, regardless of whether they are in Hong Kong or not at the reference time-point.

Ends/Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Issued at HKT 11:46

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