Hong Kong will likely record negative growth in the fourth quarter of 2008 and the economic statistics may further deteriorate in 2009, with the unemployment rate expected to hike, Hong Kong's finance chief said Saturday.
Speaking at a budget consultation video forum, Financial Secretary John Tsang of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government said he was not sure when the global financial tsunami and economic downturn will come to an end.
He said the unemployment rate was expected to peak in the middle of the year when many college students leave the campus.
But the HKSAR government will not necessarily cut back on public spending when drafting the budget for the next fiscal year starting from April 1.
"We shall go ahead with spending where necessary," he said.
Tsang said he understood that young people had concerns over the future developments of the society as well as their job prospects but the HKSAR government will put in place measures to stimulate the economy and create jobs.
The HKSAR government plans to alleviate the employment pressure by launching internship programs and other projects to create short term job positions, in addition to hiring over 7,700 civil servants by the end of March next year.
The financial tsunami has added to the challenges of many Hong Kong-based enterprises, forcing some to announce downsizing or lay-offs. Officials of the HKSAR government have recently called on local firms to avoid quick decisions to cut jobs.