Financial turmoil is disturbing the serenity of the Po Lin Monastery, which has been forced to embark on a voluntary redundancy programme after losing $600,000 due to a decline in visitors. The Buddhist sanctuary on Lantau Island - which employs about 150 staff, including managers, drivers, cooks and waiters - has not set a target for the number of workers it might shed. But the Reverend Sik Chi-wai, who attributed dropping visitor numbers to the combined effects of the economic gloom and recent bad weather, confirmed that two staff had resigned last month. The vacancies would be filled by part-time workers if necessary, said the Reverend Sik, adding: 'We don't want to lay off anyone, but they are getting old, they are encouraged to retire. 'And if they don't want to work here any more, they can also consider leaving.' Reverend Sik said visitor donations had dropped drastically because of record rainfall over the past two months. The monastery's income is generated mainly through donations and revenues from its popular vegetarian cafeteria. 'There were practically no people visiting here when it was raining,' Reverend Sik said, adding that cafeteria takings were down as well. 'They would rather go to the airport to eat after coming here. Sundays are the only days we have a considerable number of visitors. It's like we are operating just for Sundays. We really don't need that many staff.' Reverend Sik said that at its peak around 2,000 to 3,000 visited each Sunday. The monastery has monthly running costs of around $4 million, which includes a hostel for the elderly housing around 20 people and kindergarten with about 100 pupils in Tai O. Towngas has written to staff asking them to consider accepting redundancy in a fresh round of downsizing, unions claim. The 700-strong Hong Kong and China Gas Company Chinese Employees' Association said it was not known how many had received the letter. Some employees said they had been promised compensation of one month's salary for every two years worked at the company, the association's secretary, Liu Sun-kwong, said. 'It's an ongoing thing to cut staff but the letter indicates the company is more serious about it now,' Mr Liu said. 'It will be difficult for those in their 30s or 40s to find job again.' A spokeswoman for the 1,900-strong firm refused to confirm the voluntary redundancies, saying: 'We've no plans to lay off staff.'