HONG KONG DEFERS DECISION ON MAID'S TAX
MANILA, January 10, 2003 (STAR) By Mayen Jaymalin - Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong can now heave a sigh of relief, albeit temporarily.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said yesterday that the Hong Kong government may defer until March its decision whether or not to impose the proposed HK$500 levy on the monthly salary of foreign domestic workers.
Labor Undersecretary Manuel Imson said that Hong Kong’s chief executive, Tung Chee-wha delivered Wednesday night his annual policy address outlining the government’s major policies but did not mention the issue which has enraged foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong.
"There was nothing in his policy statement that would be a direct reference to foreign workers," Imson said.
He noted that the Hong Kong government appeared to be still seriously reviewing the proposal.
Late last year, political parties in Hong Kong recommended the imposition of HK$500 levy on the monthly salary of foreign maids in a bid to curb the unprecedented 7.9 per cent unemployment rate.
But until the Hong Kong government officially declares its decision on the issue, Imson said, the status quo will prevail, which means domestic helpers are spared from any tax or wage cut for now.
According to Hong Kong-based Philippine labor attaché Bernardino Julve, the budget minister of Hong Kong is scheduled to deliver the traditional speech in March, where he is expected to tackle specific policies and issues, which may include the government’s decision on the proposed levy.
There are an estimated 153,000 Filipino maids in the former British colony, which comprise more than half of its 240,000 foreign domestic helpers. Other nationalities working as maids in the territory are Indonesians, Thais, Nepalese and Bangladeshis.
Philippine officials are currently leading a move to protest the tax imposition, which they branded as "discriminatory" as it would reduce the monthly wage of Filipino workers.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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