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Pay cut for HK officials

HONG Kong's top officials will take a pay cut, the leader of the special administration region said yesterday, as a government agency warned a leveling out in the jobless rate could prove temporary.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang said his administration has proposed a pay cut of 5.4 percent for senior officials as Hong Kong weathers the global economic slump.

Lower and middle-ranking officials would have their salaries frozen, Tsang said.

The pay cut will take effect on July 1 after the administration finishes gauging the response of staff, he said.

Hong Kong's economy shrank 7.8 percent in the first quarter, its largest decline since the Asian financial crisis a decade ago.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for March to May was unchanged at a three-year high of 5.3 percent from the February-April period, the first time in eight months that the number of jobless hasn't risen, according to the Census and Statistics Department data yesterday.

But Secretary for Labor and Welfare Matthew Cheung said there is still pressure for the jobless rate to rise in coming months.

"While the external economy has yet to recover, the uncertainty brought about by the human swine influenza has also exerted extra pressure on the labor market," he said.


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