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Transcript of remarks by SLW on statutory minimum wage and MPF offsetting arrangement
     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, on statutory minimum wage and the offsetting arrangement of the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) after attending Barrier 'Fu'ree Adventure Day 2016 organised by the Hong Kong Federation of Handicapped Youth today (October 8):

Reporter: The adjustment on minimum wage is likely to be adding two dollars, what do you think? Is the adjustment reasonable? It is just according to the inflation rate, do you think this can really help?

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: The Minimum Wage Commission, I gathered, has made substantive progress, and in fact has reached a consensus on the level which they would recommend to the Chief Executive in Council. We are awaiting the report which they should submit before the end of this month. According to normal, conventional practice, the Commission adheres to an evidence-based approach, in other words, they would base the decision on rational figures and also in the light of, for example, cost of living index, employment situation and Hong Kong's economic growth. They take reference of a basket of economic and social indicators before they come to a consensus. Of course I am pleased with a report that a consensus has been reached. We look forward to receiving the full report from the Commission before the end of this month.

Reporter: There are voices that it should be annually reviewed instead of two years. What do you think?

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: The Ordinance (Minimum Wage Ordinance) actually requires a review to be conducted at least once in every two years. There is no prohibition of another review to be conducted if circumstances so warrant. I said before, that if economic circumstances so warrant, we don't rule out the possibility of reviewing the level more than once every two years. The flexibility is there.

Reporter: For the MPF offsetting mechanism, how is the lobbying between different parties? Do you think it is likely to be achieved in this coming term? Are you optimistic?

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: We are working very hard on finding the way forward on the question of offsetting of MPF. This is a very complicated and complex issue, because it involves not only just the offsetting, but also the interrelationship between long service payment, severance payment, and MPF itself. We have got to take a holistic view and overall view of the whole issue, but we are working very hard with a view to finding a viable option, viable way forward before the end of our term.

Reporter: What is the most likely plan? There are already some lobbying and some discussion, what is the Government inclined to do?

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: I can't share with you our inclination but I can tell you that we are working very hard and seriously. Hopefully we would come up with a way forward and broad policy direction before long, so that we can sit down with everybody and discuss the way forward. We hope to come up with some definite proposals which will provide a basis for further discussion in the community.

Reporter: Is there a timetable?

Secretary for Labour and Welfare: The timetable is certainly before the end of our term, which is actually before the end of June next year, but we hope, of course, to get it off the ground into the public arena well before then, so that the community can discuss it in good time.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Saturday, October 8, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:18
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