For discussion FCR(95-96)67
on 3 November 1995
ITEM FOR FINANCE COMMITTEE
HEAD 46 - GENERAL EXPENSES OF THE CIVIL SERVICE
Subhead 024 Relief and welfare of civil servants
Members are invited to approve -
- an increase in the per capita annual rate for the Staff Welfare Fund from $9 by $4.5 to $13.5 and the Welfare Maintenance Fund from $5 by $2.5 to $7.5 with effect from 1 April 1996;
- merging of the Staff Welfare Fund and the Welfare Maintenance Fund into one Staff Welfare Fund with a combined per capita annual rate of $21 with effect from 1 April 1996; and
- the delegation of authority to the Secretary for the Treasury to revise annually the per capita rate of the new Staff Welfare Fund in accordance with the movement of the Consumer Price Index (A).
There is a need to restore the real value of the grants to support welfare and recreational activities of civil servants and to provide greater flexibility in the use of the funds available.
2. The Secretary for the Civil Service (SCS) proposes -
- to increase the per capita annual rates of the Staff Welfare Fund and Welfare Maintenance Fund by 50% from $9 to $13.5 and from $5 to $7.5 respectively with effect from 1 April 1996;
- to merge the two funds into one Staff Welfare Fund with a combined per capita annual rate of $21 with effect from 1 April 1996; and
- to revise the per capita annual rate annually thereafter in accordance with the movement in the Consumer Price Index (A), rounded to the nearest 50 cents, under authority to be delegated to the Secretary for the Treasury.
3. The Staff Welfare Fund and the Welfare Maintenance Fund were introduced in 1970 and 1990 respectively to improve morale and foster a general sense of belonging in the civil service. The present rates, which are on a per head per year basis, have remained unchanged since December 1990. Between December 1990 and August 1995, the inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (A), has risen by 52%. SCS considers it necessary to restore the real value of the rates by increasing them from $9 to $13.5 for the Staff Welfare Fund and from $5 to $7.5 for the Welfare Maintenance Fund with effect from 1 April 1996.
4. Even at the revised rates, the grants often only meet part of the expenses on staff welfare/recreational activities. To provide greater flexibility in using these funds, SCS proposes to merge the Staff Welfare Fund for organising welfare/recreational activities and the Welfare Maintenance Fund for maintaining welfare/recreational equipment into one Staff Welfare Fund for both purposes. In other words, from 1 April 1996 onwards, the per capita annual grant for welfare and recreational activities will be $21. Individual departments may then utilise the funds available to best serve the needs of their staff.
5. The proposed delegation of authority to the Secretary for the Treasury is strictly confined to revision of the rate to take account of inflation. We shall continue to seek Members approval for any substantive change to the rate or the basis for revision.
6. SCS estimates that the revision will cost $930,000 in additional annual recurrent expenditure. Subject to Members approval, we shall include sufficient provision in the 1996-97 draft Estimates.
7. The provision of welfare fund for civilian staff was first introduced in 1970 at a rate of $5 per head per year, to provide relief to officers on or below Master Pay Scale point 23 in the event of illness or domestic distress and welfare in the form of a grant to assist departmental sports and recreational activities. The fund was later split into two, namely, the Staff Relief Fund and the Staff Welfare Fund and the scope of the latter fund was extended to include all civil servants. The present per capita annual rate of $9 was endorsed by the Finance Committee in 1990. At that same meeting, Members also approved the introduction of a one-off Setting-up Grant at $25 per head for the purchase of sports and recreational equipment (for example, Chinese billiard tables, table-tennis tables and dart boards, etc.) and an annual rate of $5 per head as Welfare Maintenance Fund for replacement and maintenance purposes.
Civil Service Branch
Last Updated on 2 December 1998