Raise wages or risk staff resigning, warns Henry Tang Companies that do not raise salaries amid the improving economy risk losing staff, Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen has warned. Mr Tang noted yesterday that some large companies had started offering pay increases as economic sentiment improved. 'Competition has increased in the market. If the companies do not share [the fruits of a better economy] with their staff, their employees could be taken away by market forces,' he said. The finance chief made the remarks while briefing lawmakers on the economy at a meeting of Legco's financial affairs panel. Mr Tang said he was optimistic about the city's economic prospects next year, saying a weak US dollar and strong consumer spending would continue to benefit the economy. But he conceded that the unemployment rate had been slow to drop. It is now 6.7 per cent. Although the number of new jobs rose by 100,000 over the past year as the economy improved, the number of job seekers also surged, he said. Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun asked if the government would consider the party's suggestion to launch a Las Vegas-style casino on Lantau Island catering to mainland tourists. Mr Tang said: 'I think this [casino] would have positive impact on the employment and the economic situation. But an area's social atmosphere tends to change after a casino is built.' Responding to lawmakers' criticism of oil companies, Mr Tang said the Competition Policy Advisory Group that he chairs would investigate if there had been any unfair practices among the firms. Petrol suppliers had come under fire for being slow to lower prices in response to changes in the oil market. Mr Tang said he would not rule out legislation to enhance competition in the oil industry. Meanwhile, Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology John Tsang Chun-wah said an investment guide would be published this week to help attract more mainland firms to Hong Kong. This will be the first time the Hong Kong government has worked with the mainland Ministry of Commerce to produce a step-by-step investment guide. 'Hopefully it will provide the transparency and incentives for companies to invest further in Hong Kong,' he said.