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Revitalising the Economy, Promoting Employment

9.         I have stressed many times since taking this post that my foremost priority is to revitalise Hong Kong's economy. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the whole community, market sentiment has been improving significantly in the past few months. Although our economy is picking up, employment remains a serious challenge for us. As a long-term solution, we should promote Hong Kong's economic restructuring, become more competitive, and broaden and deepen our markets. With further improvement in our economy and increase in investment, more employment opportunities will follow.

10.      Some labour organisations have told me they are worried that the local employment situation might not improve despite an economic recovery. Actually, this phenomenon is not unique to Hong Kong. As globalisation intensifies competition, manufacturing industries and even some service industries will move to other competitive locations that have lower costs, giving rise to job losses. In his Policy Address in January, the Chief Executive announced some targeted short-term measures to ease the problem of unemployment. I have obtained the approval of the Finance Committee to grant about $1.2 billion to extend more than 11 000 temporary jobs, to provide young people with opportunities to gain work experience and enhance skills through training and to assist them to become self-employed. I have also earmarked $50 million to establish a Youth Sustainable Development and Engagement Fund. Our determination to introduce these employment initiatives in the face of the fiscal deficit shows the importance that we attach to employment by targetting the necessary expenditure measures. In addition, the Government will improve its employment and training services and crack down on the employment of illegal workers so as to safeguard jobs for the local workforce.

11.      Economic revitalisation and promotion of employment are crucial for Hong Kong's development and are inextricably intertwined. The newly-established Economic and Employment Council has drawn its members from various sectors, providing a forum for representatives from the political sphere, trade and labour organisations and academia to discuss important economic and employment issues, to share collective wisdom and through co-ordination and prioritisation build up a consensus in different policy areas. This new initiative will help the Government to work more closely with various sectors of the community to promote economic activities, encourage investment, facilitate business and create more employment opportunities.

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2003 | Important notices
Last revision date : 10 March, 2004