Record of Meeting held on 19 January 1996 at 2:30 p.m.
in the Legislative Council Chamber


    Dr Hon YEUNG Sum (Chairman)
    Hon Allen LEE Peng-fei, CBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW LIANG Shuk-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon Martin LEE Chu-ming, QC, JP
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon Edward LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon CHIM Pui-chung
    Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon LAU Chin-shek
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon LAW Chi-kwong
    Hon LEE Kai-ming
    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon LO Suk-ching
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling


    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG CHIEN Chi-lien, CBE, ISO, JP (Deputy Chairman)
    Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, OBE, LLD, JP
    Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
    Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

In Attendance for specific items:

Mr Billy LAM, JP Director, New Airport Projects Co-ordination Office
Mr Bernard LAM, JP Project Manager, New Airport Projects Co-ordination Office
Mr M J T ROWSE Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (2)
Mr Y C CHENG Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare
Mr Ian STRACHAN, JP Director of Social Welfare
Mr Stephen CHAN Senior Statistician of Social Welfare Department
Mr C I C JACKSON, JP Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service
Mr Warner W H CHEUK Principal Assistant Secretary for the Civil Service
Mr A J DEEPROSE Assistant Director of Accounting Services
Mrs Maureen CHAN Principal Assistant Secretary for Security
Mr Laurence LEUNG, OBE, JP Director of Immigration
Mrs Judy CHING, JP Assistant Director of Immigration
Mrs Teresa TSE, JP Assistant Director of Information Technology Services

In Attendance:

Mr K C KWONG, JP Secretary for the Treasury
Mr Alan LAI, JP Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (1)
Mrs Lilian WONG Principal Executive Officer (LegCo Unit), Finance Branch
Miss Pauline NG Clerk to the Finance Committee
Mr Andy LAU Chief Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)
Mr Simon CHEUNG Senior Assistant Secretary (Special Duties)

Item No. 1 - FCR(95-96)108


The Committee approved this item.

Item No. 2 - FCR(95-96)112


2. The Chairman informed Members that when the paper was considered by the Public Works Subcommittee (PWSC) on 10 January 1996, some Members had expressed reservation on the proposal and requested that this item be further discussed at this meeting.

3. On the question of transfer of experience and technology to civil servants, the Director of New Airport Projects Co-ordination Office (D, NAPCO) said that government staff had been working hand in hand with the consultants as an integrated team. Government staff had over the past years accumulated substantial experience in managing large scale projects and the experience so acquired would be useful to whatever departments these staff were posted to. Over 300 staff from various engineering departments who were involved in the Airport Core Programme (ACP) had been able to acquire a lot of expertise in such areas as claims and disputes resolution. Technical and procedural manuals had been produced in conjunction with the consultants. Technology transfer was a continuous process and the consultants had transferred invaluable expertise, particularly in the area of project and claims management. He assured Members that technology transfer would continue to take place in a gradual manner. The current proposal was the last phase of the project management consultancy to provide expert support appropriate to the last phase of the ACP. The service of these consultants would continue to be required to help ensure that the ACP projects would be completed on time and within budget.

4. Some Members expressed disappointment at the slow progress in the transfer of expertise to civil servants, resulting in the continuing need to rely on the service of the consultants. They pointed out that when the Administration sought funds for the earlier phases of the consultancy, it had time and again stressed that one of the major objectives of engaging the consultants was to enable civil servants to acquire the requisite knowledge and expertise. Members found it difficult to accept that after working with the consultants for four years, civil servants were not yet able to take up the job. D, NAPCO said that the level of expertise required was more than what could be acquired within a short span of time.

5. Referring to the estimated cost of the consultancy, a Member sought clarification on the basis of calculation. The Project Manager, NAPCO said that normally the fee for the service of an engineer from a consultant firm was calculated by multiplying the salary of that engineer by a factor of 2.52. In the present case, the consultancy fee was only two times the salary of an engineer and was therefore significantly lower than the market rate. In response, the Member pointed out that according to the information provided to the Committee on some occasions relating to other consultancy services, the factor of 2.52 was adopted only if the consultants would provide their own office accommodation and secretarial support. However, in the present case, office accommodation had already been provided by NAPCO.

6. The Chairman concluded that since the item had been thoroughly discussed at both PWSC meeting and this meeting, he considered it appropriate to put the item to the vote. The Committee voted on the proposal : 14 Members voted for the proposal; 23 against and one abstained.

7. The item was negatived.


Hon Allen LEE Peng-fei Hon LAU Wong-fat
Hon Ronald ARCULLI Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee
Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon Howard YOUNG Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen Hon LEE Kai-ming
Hon LO Suk-ching Hon MOK Ying-fan

(14 Members)


Hon SZETO Wah Dr Hon Edward LEONG Che-hung
Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Michael HO Mun-ka Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya
Hon LEE Wing-tat Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon James TO Kun-sun Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
Hon CHAN Kam-lam Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
Hon David CHU Yu-lin Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
Hon IP Kwok-him Hon LAW Chi-kwong
Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Hon SIN Chung-kai Hon TSANG Kin-shing
Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling

(23 Members)


Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung

(1 Member)

Item No. 3 - FCR(95-96)109

Subhead 179 Comprehensive social security assistance scheme
Subhead 180 Social security allowance scheme

8. In reply to a Member’s question as to whether the increase of 14.5% in the number of comprehensive social security assistance (CSSA) cases from April to November 1995 had any relevance to the recent rising unemployment rate, the Director of Social Welfare (DSW) confirmed that judging from the increase in the number of unemployed and low-earning cases, this was clearly a contributing factor. As compared to the figures in December 1994, the caseload as a whole had increased by 23%, the greatest increase being unemployment, low-income and single person cases.

9. Referring to the meaning of non-standard payments as mentioned in paragraph 4(b) of the paper, DSW said that these were special grants paid to meet the needs of individual or family CSSA cases. He added that the Department had produced a specific guide to CSSA customers last year to assist customers to understand more about the scheme, including these non-standard payments. Besides, the Department had also commissioned a customer survey and the result of the survey would be reported to the Social Welfare Advisory Committee and the LegCo Panel on Welfare Services.

10. In response to the Chairman’s question on whether there would be manpower problem in coping with the increase in caseload, DSW replied that the increase in cases had exceeded the increase in manpower by about 20% during the past two to three years. He said that the Management Services Agency (MSA) had just completed a review of the manning standards in social security field units and the related resource issues would be reflected in the 1996-97 draft Estimates.

11. As for the need to make the application procedure for social security assistance more user-friendly, DSW explained that the purpose was to assist the public to understand more about their rights and the application procedures. An overall review of the procedures in applying for public assistance schemes had been part of the MSA review.

12. The Committee approved this item.

Item No. 4 - FCR(95-96)110

Subhead 015 Public and judicial service pension benefits and compensation
Subhead 017 Surviving spouses’ and children’s pensions, widows’ and orphans’ pensions and increases

13. A Member enquired if any actuarial computation of Government’s liability in the payment of pensions had been made and whether any steps had been taken to alleviate the burden on tax-payers by exploring other employment terms for engaging civil servants, such as the offer of contract gratuities.

14. The Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (DS/CS) explained that it was normal practice for the Government to employ staff on pensionable terms in order to ensure stability and continuity. Contract terms would only be used under exceptional circumstances, e.g. when there were recruitment difficulties.

15. He said that there was little readily available information on the actuarial computation of pension payments but agreed that this was a matter which could be followed up in the LegCo Panel on Public Service.


16. The Committee approved this proposal.

Item No. 5 - FCR(95-96)111

Subhead 001 Salaries
Subhead 016 Gratuities for officers on contract

17. In response to questions, DS/CS confirmed that upon expiry of their extended agreements, those who were occupying posts in a promotion rank would have to compete with officers in the lower rank for the jobs. The selection criteria would include many factors; knowledge of Cantonese could be one of the factors if such was considered essential having regard to the nature of the work involved. For those who were in the basic rank, they would not be required to compete with other officers for the renewal of agreements. Their continuation of employment would depend on other factors such as job performance.

18. The Committee approved this item.

Item No. 6 - FCR(95-96)113

Immigration Department
New Subhead “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Travel Document Information System”
Subhead 001 Salaries

19. In response to a Member, the Assistant Director of Information Services Technology said that the hardware and system software of the computer system would be acquired through open tender whereas the application software would be developed in-house by staff of the Information Technology Services Department (ITSD) and contract staff under the management of ITSD.

20. In reply to questions from a Member, the Director of Immigration (D of Imm) said that the digitised record storage technology of the system allowed round-the-clock on-line access to the records so that if a Hong Kong resident lost his passport in a country in other time zones, a more efficient checking and verification service could be provided.

21. As regards the new features of the proposed computer system, D of Imm said that the new system was much more advanced and sophisticated than the existing Immigration Records Information System (IRIS) in terms of capability and security, record-keeping, authentication facility system capacity and accounting procedures. The existing IRIS would become obsolete by 1997 as its normal life span was about seven years.

22. Some Members asked if application for the HKSAR passports and processing of the applications could be conducted prior to 1 July 1997, thus enabling the passports to be issued on that day. In response, D of Imm said that without the necessary legislation in place, it could not input applicants’ information before 1 July 1997. However the Immigration Department and ITSD would adhere strictly to the implementation timetable to ensure that the computer system would be ready by 1 July 1997 for the issue of the HKSAR passports from that date. To ensure that there were no delays on the part of the contractors, penalty clauses would be included in the contracts.

23. Regarding cost recovery for the issue of the HKSAR passport, D of Imm said that the ‘user-pays’ principle would be applied. However, in the absence of information on the costing of printing and the manpower involved in processing the applications, it was difficult to provide an estimate of the passport fee at this stage.

24. The Committee approved this proposal.

25. The meeting ended at 4:00 p.m.

Legislative Council Secretariat
13 February 1996

Last Updated on 27 November 1998