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The Hong Kong government announced yesterday that Hong Kong's statutory minimum wage (SMW) will be frozen at HK$37.5 per hour for the first time since its introduction a decade ago. 

Secretary for Labour and Welfare Law Chi-kwong said that the recommendation proposed by the Minimum Wage Commission (MWC) was not an unanimous decision. However, the majority of those on the commission agreed to maintain the current minimum wage level given that Hong Kong is facing economic recession brought on by the pandemic and the high unemployment rate. Taking the current economic environment into account, the government had accepted the consensus. 

"During the current round of review of the SMW rate by the MWC, the Hong Kong economy was in a deep recession with an elevated unemployment rate and the economic outlook was clouded by an unusually high degree of uncertainty. Under such a challenging economic environment, maintaining the prevailing SMW rate can help strike an appropriate balance between the objectives of forestalling excessively low wages and minimising the loss of low-paid jobs," he said.

Law stressed that minimum wage should not be the only solution to low-income families and poverty. 

The next review will be in October 2022, meaning that the current hourly wage rate will remain the same until May 2023.