'Jobless handouts would take 18 months' - RTHK
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'Jobless handouts would take 18 months'

2020-09-26 HKT 12:12
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  • Law Chi-kwong leaves a radio station on Saturday. He declined to take questions from reporters. Photo: RTHK
    Law Chi-kwong leaves a radio station on Saturday. He declined to take questions from reporters. Photo: RTHK
Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong has again rejected calls to set up an unemployment subsidy scheme, saying any such mechanism would prove costly and take at least 18 months to put into place.

Politicians and trade unionists from across the political divide have called for a dedicated subsidy for the jobless after the unemployment rate rose past 6 percent for the first time in more than a decade. Officials have consistently rejected the idea.

Speaking on a radio programme on Saturday, Law said creating any such scheme was complicated by the fact that Hong Kong lacked a social security mechanism in place which also records employees' tax returns.

Law also rejected suggestions from politicians that an unemployment subsidy would only be in place temporarily. He said it would take a long time for the SAR's job market to stabilise and full employment to return.

He said market conditions in July and August were worse than at the peak of the Sars epidemic in 2003, with many shopping centres left empty as people stayed at home.

However he said government support measures announced so far, although not perfect, had helped stabilise the situation.