Asked by : Hon HO Chun-yan
Replied by : SEM
With regard to the employment problem of the residents in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai, will the Government inform this Council of:
the respective unemployment and underemployment rates, the median income figures of the residents in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai for each of the last three quarters, and how these figures compare to those for the territory; and
the measures in place to alleviate the unemployment problems as well as enhance the employment competitiveness of the residents concerned, such as the introduction of incentive measures to boost investments, and hence the number of available jobs, within the districts and to upgrade the external transport facilities of the districts so as to shorten the commuting time of the residents?
Based on the data collected in the General Household Survey conducted by the Census and Statistics Department, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Hong Kong as a whole was 4.5%, 4.5% and 5.3% respectively in the first three quarters of 2001. The corresponding underemployment figures were 2.3%, 2.2% and 2.5%. As regards the median monthly employment earnings, it was $11,000 in the first quarter of 2001 and $10,000 in both the second and third quarters for the overall employed population of Hong Kong.
The sample size of the General Household Survey at district level is generally not large enough to enable the compilation of sufficiently precise statistics pertaining to individual districts. Hence, finer breakdowns on the unemployment and underemployment rates and the median monthly employment earnings for residents in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai districts are not available.
The Government has devised a range of measures to ease unemployment. These include job creation in areas where more social investment is required, strengthening employment services, enhancing vocational training and retraining, and combating illegal employment.
More specifically, the Employees Retraining Board runs a variety of training courses through six training bodies at 11 retraining centres in Tuen Mun, Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai areas. To improve its provision of employment services to local residents, the Labour Department has reprovisioned its Tuen Mun Job Centre from Shan King Estate to the Tuen Mun Parklane Square in Tuen Mun town centre in July 2000, which is more centrally and conveniently located. The relevant District Offices under Home Affairs Department have also launched job creation initiatives through various community involvement projects (such as support in community-building, enhancement of public enquiry services, compilation of building management database) as well as activities related to the Keep Hong Kong Clean campaign. Over 80 jobs have been created in Yuen Long and Tuen Mun districts. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has also created some 220 new cleansing jobs in these two districts to step up cleaning of the environment, such as removing illegal bills and posters, cleansing of hygiene blackspots, etc.
Given that Hong Kong is a very compact place, we do not consider it desirable or practicable to introduce incentive measures to boost investments at the district level.
As for transport, more efficient transport links from these districts to the urban areas are being planned. Upon completion in 2003, the West Rail will bring local residents to West Kowloon within 30 minutes and to the extensive rail network in urban areas through interchange stations at Mei Foo and Nam Cheong. In addition, the Government is assessing KCRC's proposal on the Kowloon Southern Link which will extend West Rail, via the Tsim Sha Tsui Extension, to interchange with both East Rail and the future Shatin to Central Link at Hung Hom. The completion of Kowloon Southern Link in the early part of the time window of 2008 to 2013 will further enhance residents' accessibility to urban Kowloon and the territory's overall railway network.
On road infrastructure, the proposed Route 10 that runs between Yuen Long Highway and North Lantau will include a 5.7 km new road connection between Siu Lam and Ting Kau, and will reduce travelling time between the North West New Territories and the urban areas and the airport. Moreover, the new Shenzhen Western Corridor ("SWC"), which connects Shekou and Ngau Hom Shek in Yuen Long, will be connected to the existing Yuen Long Highway at Lam Tei through the future Deep Bay Link ("DBL"). When the SWC and DBL are completed by 2005/06, residents in the North West New Territories could travel between Hong Kong and the Mainland more conveniently.