LegCo Paper No. ESC 10/96-97
(These minutes have been seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/F/3/2
Minutes of the proceedings of the meeting
held on Wednesday, 13 November 1996
at 10:45 am in the Legislative Council Chamber
Members present :
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung (Deputy Chairman)
Hon SZETO Wah
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon LAW Chi-kwong
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Members absent :
Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen
Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon Margaret NG
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Public officers attending :
- Mr Kevin HO, JP
- Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
- Mr Mike STONE, JP
- Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service
- Mr TAM Wing-pong, JP
- Deputy Secretary for Trade and Industry
- Mr Matthew K C CHEUNG, JP
- Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower
- Mr Alfred CHAN, JP
- Deputy Commissioner for Labour
- Mrs Clarie LO
- Deputy Director of Housing
- Mr Simon P S LEE
- Legal Adviser of Housing Department
- Mr Herman CHO
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower
- Mr Paul S W LEUNG, JP
- Deputy Secretary for Transport
- Mr S C LEE
- Assistant Commissioner for Transport
- Mr Larry N PARKER
- Government Engineer, Highways Department
Clerk in attendance :
- Mrs Constance LI
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)
Staff in attendance :
- Miss Pauline NG
- Assistant Secretary General 1
- Mr Andy LAU
- Senior Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)
Proposed retention of a supernumerary post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1 (D4) in 1997-98 draft Estimates under Head 46 for the continued secondment of a civil servant to the Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation as Commissioner
Considering that the supernumerary post in question had existed for 12 years since 1984, a member asked why the post was not made permanent. In response, the Deputy Secretary for Trade and Industry explained that the secondment of an Administrative Officer grade officer to the Hong Kong Export Credit Insurance Corporation (HKECIC) was only a temporary arrangement, and the long-term plan was to groom qualified senior managers for the position of the Commissioner. However, HKECIC currently had a shortage of qualified senior managers as a result of the consecutive retirement of two senior executives. It was therefore necessary to retain the supernumerary post for another year to continue the secondment arrangement for the time being.
2. Members remarked that they would not object to the present proposal so as not to affect the operation of HKECIC. Nevertheless, they expressed concern about the prolonged arrangement to second senior civil servants to head the various public bodies as noted from recent proposals to the Subcommittee. They requested the Administration to review the arrangement and to ascertain the reasons why these organizations had not been able to identify suitable candidates by open recruitment or internal promotion. As the matter touched upon a wider policy issue, the Chairman advised this should more appropriately be followed up by the LegCo Panel on Public Service. The Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (DS/CS) agreed to provide further information on the number and the period of supernumerary directorate posts created to accommodate senior government officers on secondment to public organisations.
3. This item was voted on and endorsed.
Proposed retention of a supernumerary post of Assistant Commissioner for Labour (D2) up to 31 December 1997 in the Labour Department to enable the continued secondment of a suitable officer to the Employees Retraining Board
4. The meeting noted that the proposal also sought approval for the continued secondment of a senior civil servant to head a public organisation. Members reiterated their concern about the secondment arrangements for filling senior posts in public organisations.
5. This item was voted on and endorsed.
Proposed creation of a permanent post in a new rank of Assistant Director of Housing/Legal Advice (DL2) to head the in-house Legal Advice Division in the Housing Department
6. This item was voted on and endorsed.
Proposed creation of a permanent post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) in the Education and Manpower Branch of the Government Secretariat with effect from 1 January 1997 to cope with the additional workload in respect of industrial safety and other related issues
7. While members were in support of directing more resources to enhance industrial safety, they questioned the need to create an additional permanent Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) post in the Education and Manpower Branch (EMB) for the purpose. They considered that the additional work relating to industrial safety could be absorbed by existing resources through re-distribution of work among the seven Principal Assistant Secretaries (PASs) in the Branch. In this connection, a member pointed out that one possibility would be to re-shuffle the duties of the Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower 3 (PAS(EM)3) and Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower 6 (PAS(EM)6) who were currently only responsible for work relating to the Education Commission and the Advisory Committee on Teacher Education and Qualifications respectively. If necessary, a non-directorate post could be created to assist the PAS in dealing with the increased work relating to industrial safety.
8. In reply, the Deputy Secretary for Education and Manpower advised that the Administration had considered the possibility of staff re-deployment before submitting the proposal to the Committee. As the existing PASs in the EMB including PAS(EM)3 and PAS(EM)6 were already fully loaded, they did not have spare capacity to take on the extra duties. An additional D2 post was therefore proposed.
9. As to whether it was uncommon within the Administration to have a D2 officer servicing only one committee as in the case of PAS(EM)3 and PAS(EM)6, DS/CS advised that the manpower requirement would depend on the importance and workload of the committee. For the University Grants Committee (UGC), it was currently serviced by a team of officers. A member considered this not a fair comparison because UGC had a much wider spectrum of duties involving overseeing the operation of the local tertiary education institutions with an annual budget of $10 billion.
10. After discussion, members still had reservations about the need for an additional D2 post. They requested the Administration to provide further information on the workload and duties of PAS(EM)3 and PAS(EM)6 and whether existing staff could be re-deployed to absorb the increase in workload, before taking a decision on the proposal.
11. In view of members comments and request for further information, the Deputy Secretary for the Treasury agreed to withdraw the proposal and to provide additional information for members consideration at the next meeting.
12. The paper was withdrawn by the Administration.
(a)redeployment of a post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1 (D4) in Transport Branch to head a new Transport Infrastructure Division for a period of five years ;
(b)creation of two supernumerary posts in Transport Branch and one supernumerary post in Highways Department for five years ; and
(c)increase of the permanent establishment ceilings of the Transport Branch, Highway Department and Transport Department for implementation of the Railway Development Strategy
13. Noting that the railway development projects had been on-going for some time, a member asked why it was necessary to create three supernumerary directorate posts at the present stage. In reply, the Deputy Secretary for Transport (DS for T) advised that as the Government was committed to speeding up the planning and implementation of these three priority projects, there had been a rapid and substantial increase in the volume of work in respect of these projects that could no longer be coped with by existing staff. He further advised that, in addition to steering and co-ordinating the various proposals and related legislation and land resumption programmes for the development of the Western Corridor Railway (WCR), the Administration would have to scrutinize the technical submissions and feasibility reports and to resolve any interface issues concerning the Tseung Kwan O/Quarry Bay Extension and the Ma On Shan to Tai Wai rail link/Kowloon Canton Railway extension from Hung Hom to Tsimshatsui. Given the scale of the projects which would cost over $100 billion in money of the day terms, it was not possible for the Administration to absorb all additional workload by re-deployment. Additional staffing was therefore necessary.
14. While agreeing to the need to expedite transport improvements, a member asked whether the Administration would envisage any changes in the anticipated workload in relation to these projects that might render some of these posts not necessary during the five year period up to 2001. He also asked whether the Government would review the continued need for the additional posts acquired. In reply, DS for T advised that it was difficult to forecast any changes that might affect the workload during the period, but the Government would carry out interim reviews on the need for these posts. He anticipated that there should be substantial work for the additional staff during the period, considering that the railway development projects would be reaching the peak of the planning and implementation stage. Responding to members concern, DS/CS advised that most of the additional posts were general/common grades posts which could be absorbed by the general establishment, should there be a need to delete any such posts during the five year period. There was therefore no question of staff redundancy in this respect.
15. Responding to a question from another member, DS for T advised that the Chinese side of the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group had all along been kept informed of developments concerning the WCR. There would be consultation with the Chinese side should there be matters constituting a financial commitment to the future SAR Government.
16. This item was voted on and endorsed.
17. The Committee was adjourned at 11:30 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
3 December 1996
Last Updated on 12 August 1999