Officials have not agreed to allow domestic helpers from the Philippines to work on the mainland, contradicting earlier reports, it emerged yesterday. Yu Fuming, director-general of the Department of Training and Employment under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, was quoted by the China Daily newspaper as saying the issue was not on the nation's agenda. The denial follows reports that 20 maids from the Philippines would start work in Shenzhen after Lunar New Year. But Mr Yu was quoted as saying: 'We have never agreed to introduce Philippine maids to work on the mainland. 'The job market now is so tight and we have to create more job opportunities for domestic workers.' Although the nation's official urban unemployment stands at about 4 per cent, most economists say the real jobless rate is closer to 10 per cent in cities. Several newspapers including the Hong Kong-based Ta Kung Pao and the Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported this month that 20 maids from the Philippines would be employed by families in Shenzhen, including those from Hong Kong and Taiwan. The newspaper said demand for maids was high in Shenzhen and it was likely that more would be recruited from the Philippines in the near future. Mr Yu dismissed the reports as 'nothing but rumour'. He said local labour authorities had been asked to investigate the newspaper reports, but did not elaborate.