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Applications for PWIF dive 39% in HK

    HONG KONG, Jan. 25 (Xinhuanet) -- As Hong Kong's economy continues to improve, the number of applications for the Protection of Wageson Insolvency Fund (PWIF) decreased from 22,350 in 2003 to 13,631 in 2004, a substantial drop of 39 percent, a government official said here Tuesday.

    Addressing the opening ceremony of a seminar, Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labor Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said that the present financial position of PWIF was stable and healthy.

    The fund recorded an average monthly surplus of 7.13 million HKdollars (910,000 US dollars) in the first nine months of the financial year 2004-05, namely, April to December of 2004.

    "The PWIF Board estimates that the fund will register a surplusof 81 million HK dollars (10.38 million US dollars) at the end of 2004-05. This will be the first financial year that the fund records a surplus since the Asian financial crisis in 1997," Cheung said.

    While the Asian financial crisis in 1997 triggered numerous closure of business, the PWIF provided a safety net for the employees. The employees could obtain ex-gratia payments if they were owed wages by their insolvent employers.

    The fact that the balance of PWIF turned from a deficit into a surplus indicated that the business environment and the economy had improved, Cheung said.

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