Foreign domestic helpers will probably have their minimum wage cut by 5 per cent - but the idea of taxing their employers $500 a month is unlikely to go ahead, sources close to the government say. If the 5 per cent pay cut on new contracts goes ahead it will bring maids' minimum salaries down $183 to $3,487, and will be the first cut since 1999. Maids' salaries have remained frozen since 2000. The government is reviewing their pay as part of a population policy review by Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen which contains changes in the policy towards Hong Kong's 240,000 foreign domestic helpers. Mr Tsang's press secretary said the report would be released publicly when the Executive Council gave its approval. One source yesterday said: 'It is only an indication, but what we have gathered is that there is likely to be a 5 per cent wage cut plus a combination of other measures.' The source said the proposals might be announced as part of the Budget speech in March. 'The logic is the salaries tax might be raised. To mitigate the impact on salaried employers, the maids' wages will be cut,' the source said. The government usually announces a review of foreign maids' minimum wage in the last week of January, but is not expected to do so this year. Their pay was cut for the first time on February 2, 1999, by 5 per cent, from $3,860 to $3,670 a month. In the last pay review, employers lobbied the government to lower the minimum wage to $3,150, which would have brought it down to pre-1992 levels. But the government announced on January 31 last year it would freeze wages at $3,670 in the face of workers' protests and diplomatic pressure. This year, the debate was overwhelmed by proposals from legislator and Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun, also an executive councillor, to impose a $500 levy on employers of foreign domestic helpers while reducing the pay of maids by the same amount. Connie Bragas-Regalado, chairwoman of the Asian Migrants Co-ordinating Body, said her organisation would hold forums on Sunday urging workers to stand up for their rights. 'It looks like we will have a wage cut. If it is a levy, it would take some time to implement, whereas a wage cut can be done by an administrative announcement,' she said. Philippine Consul-General in Hong Kong Victoria Bataclan, who has lobbied against any cut or levy, said the battle was not over and she hoped the government could still be talked out of cutting maids' pay.