Hong Kong creates more than 60,000 jobs as jobless rate soars
Hong Kong's Financial Secretary Wednesday announced plans to accelerate public works and create 62,000 new jobs over the next three years to tackle the severe economic slump.
In his annual budget speech, John Tsang warned that the former British colony's economy would shrink by between 2 and 3 per cent in 2009, its first contraction since the Asian economic crisis of 1998, dpa reports.
Tsang said the Hong Kong government would invest more than 200 million US dollars to create 62,000 jobs and internships on a series of projects over the next three years to counter the recession.
The job creation scheme will include major infrastructure projects including the Hong Kong-Macau-Zhuhai bridge, the Hong Kong-Guangzhou-Shenzhen rail link and a new border crossing with China.
Around 4,000 university graduates will be given internships with businesses in Hong Kong and mainland China under the budget proposals while subsidies to employers to hire middle-aged and disabled workers will be increased.
The announcement came as Hong Kong's jobless rate hit a four-year high of 4.6 per cent. It is expected to rise further as students flood the job market in the summer.
"This once-in-a-century financial turmoil has spread from the financial markets to the real economy, leading to a synchronised global recession," Tsang said. "Being a small, open economy, Hong Kong will inevitably be hit by the turmoil.
Hong Kong's chief executive Donald Tsang, who is no relation to the financial secretary, said, "Our GDP is expected to contract this year, and of course our revenues will be hit hard as well.
"To tackle the formidable challenges, the Financial Secretary has adopted a counter-cyclical approach by boosting spending and providing some carefully considered and affordable financial relief measures for the public and business."