The financial secretary last night promised to give priority to policies that can create more jobs to help Hong Kong workers survive the economic slump. Antony Leung Kam-chung told legislators that boosting employment would be the government's top priority. The financial chief's assurance came as the legislature passed a motion calling for urgent measures to ease unemployment, which stood at 7.6 per cent for the June to August quarter. Twenty-five legislators spoke on the motion during the four-hour debate. Pro-democracy legislators pressed for a fair competition policy to protect small businesses, while the pro-business camp wanted more tax concessions. Mr Leung said the government shared the concern of legislators and was eager to improve employment by means such as developing the environmental industry, speeding up infrastructure works and upgrading education levels. Unionist legislator Tam Yiu-chung, of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) - who sponsored the motion - called for easier loans for small and medium-sized firms. 'These firms employ over one million workers and have been a major pillar of Hong Kong's economic development,' he said. He also said cross-border traffic should be improved to make it more convenient for businesses. Fellow DAB legislator Yeung Yiu-chung called for more investment to improve education levels in society. He cited figures showing that 66 per cent of mainland migrants arriving in the SAR over the past five years were very poorly educated and could not cope with Hong Kong's increasingly knowledge-based economy. Democrat Sin Chung-kai called for a fair competition law. He said many workers at small firms were being thrown out of work because large enterprises had a monopolistic grip on the market. The Liberal Party's Kenneth Ting Woo-shou wanted more tax concessions for investors. Non-affiliated legislator Michael Mak Kwok-fung accused big enterprises of creating unemployment by mass sackings of staff, which in turn affected social stability and discouraged spending. Last year, 379 jobless people committed suicide, said Mr Mak. David Li Kwok-po, legislator for the finance sector, urged the government to liaise with mainland authorities to allow more Hong Kong businesses to enter the mainland market.