Sunday, 25 October 2015

Hong Kong's Financial Secretary Still out of Touch

John Tsang and Gregory So (right) attending the Wine and Dine Festival
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah is at it again.

On his latest government blog post, he wrote in Chinese despairing that entrepreneurs in Hong Kong were hamstrung from making profits because they had to pay more money for low-skilled labour.

He wrote that workers like dishwashers were making HK$12,000 ($1,548) a month, but that put pressure on small and medium-sized businesses.

Tsang came up with this latest notion after visiting the Wine and Dine Festival which closes tonight at the Central harbourfront.

While he observed the city's low unemployment rate at 3.3 percent this quarter, and for all of last year at 3.4 percent indicated stable employment, but he expressed concern for small and medium-sized businesses in the dining, retail and recycling sectors.

"Hiring staff was their greatest difficulty," Tsang wrote. "A restaurant owner said he couldn't find anyone to do a dishwashing job in the city centre even if he offered HK$12,000 a month.

"The market has a huge demand for such low-skilled labour, causing a continuous rise in salaries for these jobs, and increasing the burden on entrepreneurs."

He warned that businesses could not survive the rising labour costs and the adverse economic situation could collapse, which would lead to an increase in unemployment and less spending power.

Uh, excuse me -- how about telling greedy landlords that they are charging so much rent that they are the ones who are killing these businesses?

It's not the labour costs -- this is the market rate for dishwashers because no one wants to do this job. It's hard work, having to stand in a hot room, cleaning dishes non stop. Oh maybe Tsang has never had to do the dishes in his life and doesn't understand how laborious it is.

Can he blame people for wanting to find less back-breaking work for almost the same salary?

Perhaps Tsang should wash dishes for that restaurant owner for a day to see what it's like, and maybe he'll appreciate why dishwashers have to be paid at least HK$12,000 a month.

Does he not understand that as Hong Kong becomes more of a service industry, particularly in hospitality, that we will need low-skilled workers in restaurants, hotels and retail outlets who can serve guests, prepare food, open doors, and clean up after them?

He is only hearing one side of the story, and not bothering to hear what workers in retail, hospitality and recycling have to say about the long hours they have to work and at times how tedious their job nature can be for little pay.

Can someone explain to me again why Tsang is our financial secretary?


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