FS places job creation at the core of his Budget

     The Financial Secretary, Mr John Tsang, has placed job creation and preserving employment at the core of his Budget announced today (February 25).

     ˇ§In response to the economic recession and rising unemployment, I have given priority to measures that are effective in creating jobs and supporting employment,ˇ¨ Mr Tsang said.

     The Financial Secretary said government spending would exceed $300 billion in the 2009-10 financial year to help combat the economic downturn.

     ˇ§This will help ease the pressure of the economic contraction, boost domestic demand and increase employment opportunities,ˇ¨ he said.

     Delivering his Budget at the Legislative Council, Mr Tsang outlined his strategy for creating new jobs, providing opportunities for graduates and assisting those made redundant during the current global economic crisis.

     ˇ§These measures will entail a provision of $1.6 billion and create about 62,000 jobs and internship opportunities in the next three years,ˇ¨ Mr Tsang said.

     Mr Tsang earmarked $400 million for the Labour Department to enhance its employment programmes to provide training and employment opportunities across the board.

     ˇ§We will raise the levels of subsidy to employers as an incentive for them to hire middle-aged and disabled people,ˇ¨ Mr Tsang said.

     These measures are expected to benefit about 44,000 people.

     An additional $13 million funding has been allocated to the Labour Department to provide referral and job-matching services to people directly affected by the global financial crisis, including those made redundant by company closures.

     Mr Tsang said: ˇ§In addition, we will organise more job fairs to provide them with a wide range of employment information.ˇ¨

     To cope with an influx of graduates into the job market in the summer, the Government will launch an ˇ§Internship Programme for University Graduatesˇ¨.

     The programme will open up internship opportunities for graduates in local or Mainland companies for six to 12 months. The Government has earmarked $140 million for the programme which is expected to benefit about 4,000 graduates.

     ˇ§It will broaden the horizon of our graduates and help them gain experience, as well as nurture talent for the industrial and business sectors,ˇ¨ Mr Tsang said.
     An additional $1.1 billion has also been allocated to create new jobs in a variety of areas.

     This includes a $700 million ˇ§Operation Building Brightˇ¨ campaign to repair dilapidated buildings which is expected to create 10,000 jobs.

     To help promote Hong Kong as an events capital in Asia, $100 million has been earmarked to assist event organisers in staging arts, cultural and sports events in Hong Kong over the next three years. The initiative is expected to add about 2,800 jobs and give a welcome boost to the economy.

     ˇ§This will help to attract more tourists, stimulate consumption and promote economic development,ˇ¨ Mr Tsang said.

     Two major events for the city this year are the 2009 East Asian Games and the 60th Anniversary of the Peopleˇ¦s Republic of China.

     The Government has allocated an additional $78 million to promote community involvement and activities in the EAG under the theme ˇĄGreen, Cultural and Dynamic Gamesˇ¦. Activities for both EAG and 60th Anniversary are expected to create an estimated 260 jobs.

     There is also a new $63 million education programme for Internet users which is expected to provide about 500 jobs.

     To promote a green and healthy living environment in Hong Kong, the Government has also set aside an additional $130 million to improve the energy efficiency of government buildings and public facilities. This initiative is expected to create about 200 jobs.   

     ˇ§Besides creating jobs directly, these measures will also provide training and job opportunities specifically to those in need, including young people, graduates, women, the middle-aged and the disabled,ˇ¨ Mr Tsang said.

     ˇ§There have also been calls for the Government to promote diversification of our economy.ˇ¨

     The Financial Secretary said infrastructure development and tourism as well as promoting green and technology-based industries would help to create jobs and, at the same time, contribute to the cityˇ¦s sustainable development.

Ends/Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Issued at HKT 13:17