Policy Address 2023

Economy chief hopes to lower unemployment rate by 0.2%

The Secretary for Economy and Finance, Lei Wai Nong, wants the local unemployment rate to drop by 0.2% from the current rate of 5.2% to 5% in 2023, he said yesterday at the Legislative Assembly (AL), where he was present for the sectoral debate over the policy address for 2023 (LAG23).

Lei said that there are conditions in place to lower the local unemployment rate by 0.2%, although he admitted that the reduction still leaves a “considerable number of people unemployed.”

Still, Lei remarked that the fact that the unemployment rate has reduced means that there is progress in this area, noting that this year the government has helped over 5,000 people get new jobs.

Commenting on the subsidy granted to employers for hiring those currently unemployed, Lei said that until November 22, some 2,000 people had benefited from the scheme. However, he acknowledged that the decision on whether to continue this scheme required further consideration and was not confirmed as yet.

For Lei, the lack of economic diversification and the consequent slowdown of local economic activities is the main factor responsible for the rising unemployment rate and underemployment. Lei noted, “We hope that the revitalization of the economy will take place effectively so we can solve the root of the problem.”

Lawmakers Ella Lei and Lei Chan U, both representing the labor sector, criticized the attitude and lack of response from the government regarding the many labor-related problems that were occurring as a consequence of the pandemic.

While Lei Chan U said the policies to protect the rights of workers and tackle unemployment fell short of people’s expectations, Ella Lei disagreed with the Secretary’s response on the need to revise the labor law.

Ella Lei had called for a review of the law to add protection mechanisms to ensure local people would be able to secure their jobs, namely those in the gaming sector, but Lei said that now was not the right time to promote such amendments given the recession.

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