LegCo Paper No. ESC 42/96-97
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/F/3/2
Minutes of the proceedings of the meeting
held on Wednesday, 30 April 1997, at 10:40 am in the Legislative Council Chamber
Members present :
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung (Deputy Chairman)
Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon LAW Chi-kwong
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
Members absent :
Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
Hon SZETO Wah
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP
Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen
Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Hon Margaret NG
Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
Public officers attending :
- Mrs Carrie LAM
- Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
- Mr D W PESCOD
- Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service
- Mr C K LAU, JP
- Project Director (Lantau Fixed Crossing), Highways Department
- Mr W P MAK
- Chief Engineer, Highways Department
- Mr M J T ROWSE, JP
- Director, Business and Services Promotion Unit, Financial Secretarys Office
- Ms Miranda CHIU
- Deputy Secretary for Health and Welfare
- Miss Janice TSE
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare
- Mr Herman CHO
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Education and Manpower
- Mr K F LEE, JP
- Deputy Commissioner for Labour
Clerk in attendance :
- Mrs Constance LI
- Chief Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)
Staff in attendance :
- Mrs Vivian KAM
- Assistant Secretary General 1
- Ms Anita SIT
- Senior Assistant Secretary (Finance Committee)1
|EC(97-98)1||Proposed creation of a permanent post of Chief Engineer (D1) to head a Monitoring Team in the Lantau Fixed Crossing Project Management Office of the Highways Department|
Members generally agreed to the need for setting up a Government Monitoring Team (GMT) in Highways Department (HyD) to monitor the performance of the contractor for the maintenance of the Tsing Ma Control Area (TMCA), and to implement a bridge health monitoring system of the three main bridges.
2. In response to a member, the Project Director (Lantau Fixed Crossing) (PD/LFC) elaborated on the monitoring system. He advised that GMT would operate in the TMCA area and carry out random and regular inspections of the maintenance works of the contractor. The monitoring was to ensure that the maintenance and repairs works of the contractor would meet the quality and safety standards required. The GMTs continued assessment of the conditions of the infrastructure under the contractors maintenance would ensure smooth handover to the contractor of the second contract after the four-year term.
3. With regard to the bridge health monitoring system, PD/LFC explained that a Wind And Structural Health Monitoring System would be developed by the GMT for the three cable-supported bridges. The GMT would collect data and make measurements on the structural health of the bridges on a regular basis and during abnormal weather. With these measurements and safety reports, the Chief Engineer (CE) would recommend to a working group chaired by the Secretary for Transport if a partial or complete closure of the TMCA network would be required in case of inclement weather.
4. Noting that HyD would review its organisation and staffing in 1998 upon disbandment of the Lantau Fixed Crossing Project Management Office (LFCPMO), a member asked whether it would be more appropriate to create the CE post on a temporary basis pending the review. In reply, PD/LFC advised that monitoring of the contractors performance would be an on-going commitment and the staffing for the GMT had been discussed by the Subcommittee on TMCA under the LegCo Panel on Transport. In this connection, the Chairman referred members to the minutes of the Subcommittee on TMCA on 3 February 1997. Members noted that while the Subcommittee on TMCA were not fully satisfied with the proposed establishment, it did not object to the proposal so that the Administration could meet the schedule for the opening of TMCA, and on the understanding that the GMT staffing would be reviewed in two years. In this respect, PD/LFC clarified that the Subcommittee on TMCA was concerned that some Engineer posts in the GMT, rather than the CE post under discussion, might not be necessary after a period of implementation. Responding to a member, the Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service (DS/CS) confirmed that the Civil Service Branch (CSB) had accepted the departmental recommendation that the CE post would be required on a permanent basis in view of the on-going nature of the monitoring work required. As regards the staffing review in 1998, DS/CS advised that it would cover a much wider scope of the departmental activities than LFCPMO.
5. In reply to a member, PD/LFC confirmed that the CE would coordinate the work of the different government teams in monitoring the contractors performance.
6. The item was voted on and endorsed.
|EC(97-98)2||Proposed creation of three permanent posts of one Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1 (D4), one Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) and one Principal Management Services Officer (D1) for setting up a new Business & Services Promotion Unit in the Offices of the Chief Secretary and the Financial Secretary|
7. Members supported the policy initiative of helping business and promoting services in Hong Kong. Some members had doubts, however, on the need for setting up a separate unit for the purpose and on its effectiveness in ensuring delivery. Noting that the Secretary for Trade and Industry (STI) had previously been responsible for coordinating the Governments services promotion and provided an officer to serve as secretary to the Task Force on Services Promotion, a member asked if it would be more appropriate for STI to take charge of the proposed unit. In reply, the Director, Business and Services Promotion Unit (D/BSPU) explained that the previous arrangement for STI to serve as coordinator was only an expedient arrangement. The Task Force had concluded that, as services promotion straddled a number of different policy areas, it would be necessary in the long term to establish a dedicated unit for the purpose. As to whether BSPU should be placed under the Finance Branch, D/BSPU advised that the remit of the unit would cover other policy areas such as transport, works, financial services and economic services which were outside the scope of responsibilities of the Finance Branch. Moreover, the arrangement for the Secretary for the Treasury to be responsible for the Helping Business Programme was considered undesirable in the long-term, as this would give the wrong impression that its mission was to claw back resources from branches and departments.
8. Elaborating on the work of the proposed unit, D/BSPU explained that there would be two main areas, namely, helping business and services promotion. On helping business, the Business Advisory Group (BAG) comprising representatives from the private sector and concerned policy branches had been formed to advise on specific areas of deregulation, cost compliance and transfer of services to the private sector. The programme development work in this respect would cover a number of departments, and BSPU would also conduct pilot studies to assess the costs to the business in complying with regulatory measures and make recommendations on improvements. On services promotion, the Industry Department and the Trade Development Council would continue to play an important role in promoting investment, and the unit was to provide the necessary impetus and coordinate the efforts of concerned departments and organisations.
9. Considering that the proposed unit might not have authority over policy branches and departments in the delivery of improvements, a member asked about the monitoring/reporting system to be put in place. In response, D/BSPU advised that regular progress reports had to be submitted to the Services Promotion Strategy Group (SPSG), BAG and its sub-groups on programme implementation. Moreover, D/BSPU would report to the Financial Secretary who also supervised some of the major policy branches involved. By pitching the posts at directorate level, it would be possible for the incumbents to communicate with the highest level of concerned departments and organisations in bringing about improvements. He added that, in some cases, it was the policy branches and departments who took forward new ideas and recommended changes to BAG and SPSG.
10. A member asked whether it would be appropriate for the regulatory departments to be involved in promotion of services industries. D/BSPU responded that a sound and fair regulatory system was often an incentive rather than disincentive for investment, and the Industry Department had all along been involved in the promotion of inward investment.
11. Responding to a members comment that BSPU appeared to be top-heavy, D/BSPU advised that it was a conscious decision to keep the unit small and efficient. He also noted a members views that the Chinese title of BSPU (¤u°ÓªA°È·~±À¼s¸p) was inconsistent with that of other offices such as Efficiency Unit (®Ä²v«P¶i²Õ).
12. The item was voted on and endorsed.
|EC(97-98)3||Proposed creation of a permanent post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2) in the Welfare Division of the Health and Welfare Branch to handle various manpower and service-wide welfare and youth policy issues|
13. Noting that the Administrative Staff Officer Staff Grade C (AOSGC) post had been on loan from the CSB for three years, a member asked whether it would be possible to re-deploy the post permanently from CSB instead of creating a new post in the Health and Welfare Branch. DS/CS responded that the post was on loan from the Administrative Officer Operational Reserve (AOOR) which was used to provide short-term relief for temporary jobs and to bridge the gap between the lapse of supernumerary posts and creation of posts by the Establishment Subcommittee. It was therefore not appropriate to delete the post from AOOR.
14. On the serious shortfall of allied health personnel and social workers referred to in paragraph 7 of the paper, the Deputy Secretary for Health and Welfare advised that the shortfall arose from the expansion of services and increasing demand for health and social services in recent years. To meet the shortfall, the AOSGC on loan from CSB had been heavily involved in the manpower planning and formulation of strategies to increase the supply of allied health personnel and social workers at diploma level. Responding to a members enquiry, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare added that the Working Group on Allied Health Personnel had projected that there would be a shortfall of a few hundred occupational therapists and physiotherapists by year 2000. To increase supply of the required personnel, local tertiary educational institutions would increase the number of student in-takes from 1997-98 academic year onward and overseas recruitment would be launched to attract trained emigrants to come back and work in Hong Kong.
15. At the request of the member, the Administration undertook to provide further information to the Subcommittee on the extent of the shortfall in respect of the different streams of allied health personnel in Hong Kong, before the item was forwarded to the Finance Committee for consideration.
16. The item was put to vote and endorsed.
|EC(97-98)4||Proposed creation of a permanent post of Assistant Commissioner for Labour (D2) with effect from 1 June 1997 to strengthen the directorate support of the Labour Department to implement the new Occupational Safety and Health Bill and its subsidiary legislation|
17. While acknowledging that the Labour Department would take on new responsibilities as a result of the new policy directions on occupational safety and health (OSH) and the enactment of the OSH Bill, some members had doubts that the additional workload would justify a permanent post at Assistant Commissioner (AC) level. They were also concerned that there might be some overlapping of responsibilities between the existing AC(OSH) and the new post.
18. In response, the Deputy Commissioner for Labour (DC/L) elaborated on the additional workload arising from the new OSH policy. He said that previously Labour Department had only focused on the industrial sector which employed about 0.8 million workers. As there was increasing concern in the community over the safety and health protection of workers in the non-industrial sector, the Government had accepted the recommendation of a working group under the Labour Advisory Board to introduce a new legislation to protect the safety and health of those workers who were currently not covered by the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance. The new legislation would cover a workforce of about 2.3 million spreading over 260 000 non-industrial workplaces including offices, shopping centres, schools, hospitals and commercial premises. To enable the Department to cope with the substantial increase in workload following the enactment of the new legislation, 87 and 75 additional non-directorate posts would be created in 1997-98 and 1998-99 respectively.
19. On the requirement for two ACs to deal with OSH, DC/L advised that there would be substantial increase in work relating to the drafting of four additional sets of subsidiary legislation covering different aspects of OSH. The new legislative requirement as well as the codes of practice and guidance materials would require extensive consultation with concerned trade associations, labour groups, and other interested parties. As the new legislation would introduce new requirements such as risk assessment and safety management, the Department would have to launch publicity and educational campaigns for employers and employees in respect of the purpose and standards for compliance. In view of the wide coverage of the new legislation and the strategic importance of the consultation and publicity programmes, these would require directorate input at the AC level.
20. On the permanent need for the post, DC/L advised that the legislative work would not end with the enactment of the OSH Ordinance and subsidiary legislation. As OSH in the non-industrial sector was an entirely new area, it was envisaged that legislative amendments might be necessary in the light of experience. Moreover, as it was the long-term objective of the Administration to cultivate a new OSH culture among employers and employees in both industrial and non-industrial sectors through education, intensive efforts would be directed to publicity and training programmes in order to achieve the ultimate goal of self-regulation. These activities would become the permanent functions of the Labour Department. Another important new area of work was research and information dissemination on occupation related accidents, hazard causes and prevention. Two new functional units, an Advisory Unit and an Accident Analysis and Information Centre, would be established under the new AC to provide the necessary professional and information support.
21. On the division of responsibilities between the existing AC(OSH) and the new post, DC/L advised that the proposed organisation was given at Enclosure 6 of the paper. He clarified that the existing AC would focus on all operational matters of OSH including enforcement and prosecution, and strategies for promotional and educational programmes in the field. The new AC would concentrate more on the legislative work, the development of codes of practice and publicity materials, and the overall planning and development of strategies on OSH.
22. After discussion, the Chairman put the item to vote. The item was endorsed.
23. The Committee was adjourned at 12:15 pm.
Legislative Council Secretariat
14 May 1997
Last Updated on 12 August 1999