Tue, Jun 16, 2009 - Page 11 News List

HK government officials to take 5% pay cut: report

AFP , HONG KONG

Hong Kong’s chief executive and top government ministers will take a pay cut of more than 5 percent as part of the territory’s belt-tightening during the economic downturn, reports said yesterday.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權) and other senior officials were expected to take a cut of 5.38 percent, the South China Morning Post and other media reported, citing an unnamed source.

A spokeswoman for the chief executive’s office would not confirm the reports but said that Tsang had vowed to “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people” during the difficult economic times.

ECHO OF SARS

The pay cut will be the first top-level drop in wages since 2003, when senior officials took a 10 percent reduction during the SARS outbreak. The disease killed around 300 people in the territory and turned its financial hub into a virtual ghost town.

The latest move comes as the government was expected to announce a pay cut for around 18,000 of the city’s best-paid civil servants, a move that has sparked protests from labor unions.

Tsang was criticized last year for creating 17 new highly paid political positions.

The Post said Tsang earns HK$371,855 (US$47,674) a month.

RECESSION

Hong Kong fell into recession in the third quarter of last year and last month the government slashed its growth forecast for this year, saying the economy would contract 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent this year, from a previous forecast of 2 percent to 3 percent.

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