Domestic workers in Mong Kok, Kowloon. Photo: Asia Times

A Hong Kong legislative councilor is to ask the government to lower the interest on loans for foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong.

Pan-democrat lawmaker Kenneth Leung said there was concern over the rise of illegal money lenders targeting foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong and promised he would put in questions at the Legislative Council, hongkongnews.com.hk reported.

Leung announced his plans at a forum on March 24 with Filipino worker at the Philippine Consulate General.

In October last year, officials from the Philippine and Indonesian consulates met with Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung Kin-chung. They urged the government to take strong action against unscrupulous loan sharks who hold the passports of foreign domestic workers as collateral while repayments are made at interest rates as high as 125%.

Hong Kong police arrested a local man who had taken the passports of domestic workers, mostly Indonesians and Filipinos, while they repaid 878 loans worth about HK$3 million (US$382,950) at annual interest rates at 125%, more than double the legal threshold of 60%.

Leung urged domestic workers to borrow from licensed money lenders, but admitted the legal threshold of up to 60% in interest rates that legal money lenders are allowed to charge was still very high.

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