Provisional Legislative Council
PLC Paper No. ESC 53
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/F/3/2
Minutes of the meeting
held at the Legislative Council Chamber
on Wednesday, 14 January 1998, at 10:45 am
Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong (Chairman)
Hon NG Leung-sing (Deputy Chairman)
Hon WONG Siu-yee
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon Mrs Peggy LAM, JP
Hon Henry WU
Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, JP
Hon HUI Yin-fat, JP
Hon CHAN Wing-chan
Hon TSANG Yok-sing
Hon YEUNG Yiu-chung
Hon IP Kwok-him
Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun, JP
Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
Hon Timothy FOK Tsun-ting
Hon CHOY So-yuk
Members absent :
Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, JP
Dr Hon David LI Kwok-po, JP
Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
Hon Andrew WONG Wang-fat, JP
Hon Kennedy WONG Ying-ho
Dr Hon Charles YEUNG Chun-kam
Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
Public officers attending :
- Mrs Carrie LAM, JP
- Deputy Secretary for the Treasury
- Mr D W PESCOD
- Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service
- Mr Johnny CHAN
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport
- Mr C K MAK
- Government Engineer, Highways Department
- Mrs Katherine FOK, JP
- Secretary for Health and Welfare
- Mr W H HO
- Deputy Secretary for Health and Welfare 2
- Mr Robin GILL
- Deputy Secretary for Health and Welfare 3
- Ms Miranda CHIU
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare (Welfare)1
- Miss Eliza YAU
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Health and Welfare (Medical)1
- Dr P Y LAM, JP
- Deputy Director of Health
- Mr T C YUEN
- Business Director (Development), Housing Department
- Mr David S C LEE
- Project Director (Works), Housing Department
- Mr Frederick W H HO, JP
- Commissioner for Census and Statistics
- Miss Elley MAO, JP
- Principal Economist, Financial Services Bureau
- Miss Eliza LEE
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport 1
- Mr Allan CHOW
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport 3
- Mr K T LI
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services
- Mr Geoffrey WOODHEAD
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services
- Mr Robert FOOTMAN, JP
- Postmaster General
- Mr P C LUK, JP
- Deputy Postmaster General
- Mr K C KWONG, JP
- Secretary for the Treasury
- Mr Albert LAI, JP
- Government Property Administrator
- Mr Paul TANG, JP
- Deputy Director of Administration
- Mr Tony NGUYEN
- Principal Executive Officer, Offices of the Chief Secretary for Administration and the Financial Secretary
- Mr Raymond WONG, JP
- Deputy Secretary for Security
- Mr Philip CHAN
- Principal Assistant Secretary for Security
- Mr Y P TSANG
- Deputy Commissioner of Police
- Mr Stanley WONG
- Director of Finance, Administration and Planning, Hong Kong Police Force
Clerk in attendance :
- Ms LEUNG Siu-kum
- Chief Assistant Secretary (1)2
Staff in attendance :
- Ms Pauline NG
- Assistant Secretary General 1
- Ms Anita SIT
- Senior Assistant Secretary (1)8
||Proposed creation of two permanent posts of one Government Engineer (D2) and one Chief Engineer (D1) offset by the deletion of a supernumerary post of Government Engineer (D2) in the Highways Department to strengthen the directorate structure to cope with the increasing workload arising from an expanded railway development programme|
Responding to a member's question about the co-ordination of Government departments on railway projects, the Government Engineer/Highways Department (GE/Hy) assured that the Railway Development Office (RDO) headed by the proposed Government Engineer/Railway Development (GE/RD) would ensure close co-ordination among the concerned departments, namely Planning Department, Transport Department and Highways Department, in planning for the next phase of railway development that Hong Kong would need.
2. On the responsibilities of the proposed GE/RD and the justifications for the post to be created on a permanent basis, GE/Hy advised that apart from overseeing the three priority railway projects identified under the Railway Development Strategy (RDS), GE/RD would also be responsible for taking forward other long term railway proposals and the planning of new railway projects. The expanded railway development programme would last for another 10 to 15 years. Hence, the post was required on a permanent basis to provide the necessary directorate input in these areas of work.
3. Noting that the main duty of the proposed Chief Engineer/Railway Planning (CE/RP) post was to assist the GE/RD in managing the second Railway Development Study (RDS-2) which only lasted for 18 months, a member questioned why a permanent post, instead of a supernumerary post, was required. He remarked that the continued need for the post could be reviewed after the completion of RDS-2. In response, GE/Hy and the Principal Assistant Secretary for Transport advised that apart from the RDS-2, CE/RP would also assist GE/RD in the overall long term railway planning for Hong Kong. In order to provide continuous monitoring of railway development to meet increasing and changing transport demand, the input of the CE/RP was required on a permanent basis. GE/Hy added that the existing permanent Chief Engineer/Railway post in RDO was first created as a supernumerary post and had been extended for a total of 21 years before it became permanent in 1995. He advised that railway development planning should be regarded as a continuous commitment and be provided with permanent staffing support.
4. Referring to the supernumerary posts in Highways Department which were created for the new airport related projects and were due to lapse on 1 April 1998, a member enquired about the impact of the recent decision to defer the opening day of the new airport from April 1998 to July 1998 on these posts. GE/Hy advised that the deferment would have no impact on these posts as they were initially planned on the assumption that the new airport would be commissioned in late June 1998.
5. The item was voted on and endorsed.
||Proposed creation of two permanent posts of one Administrative Officer Staff Grade B (D3) and one Senior Principal Executive Officer (D2) in the Health and Welfare Bureau of the Government Secretariat with effect from 14 January 1998 to handle and oversee policy formulation and implementation of services for the elderly|
6. A member enquired about the mode of operation of the services to be provided by the 18 elderly health centres and the 18 visiting health teams to be run by Department of Health. The Secretary for Health and Welfare (SHW) advised that these new services were introduced to implement one of the policy objectives announced in the Chief Executive's Policy Address in October 1997 in promoting primary health care for the elderly. In response to calls for more integrated preventive and curative service for the elderly from the public, the services provided by the 18 new elderly health centres would include medical consultation and treatment. As regards the new provision of visiting health teams, the service recipients would likely be targeted on the elderly living in community with low physical mobility. The actual services to be delivered by the visiting teams would depend on individual elderly's needs.
7. A member queried the need for the proposed Senior Principal Executive Officer (SPEO) post in addition to the two existing Principal Assistant Secretaries (PASs) in the Elderly Services Division. SHW advised that since the establishment of the Elderly Commission (EC), it was found necessary to assign an officer at D2 level to provide support services for the Commission. Hence, a supernumerary SPEO post had been created under delegated authority to meet the urgent operational needs. The works of EC covered a wide spectrum of service areas, which involved a number of policy bureaux and executive departments. The proposed SPEO post was needed to provide secretariat services to the Commission, its committees and individual members in their study of policy issues relating to elderly care, and to keep close liaison with concerned governmental and non-governmental organisations on these issues. These tasks together with the other new responsibilities to be taken up by the proposed post could hardly be absorbed by the existing PASs who were already heavily engaged with work of their own schedules.
8. Responding to a member's concern about possible duplication in the provision of outreaching health care service between the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority, SHW advised that one important function of the proposed posts was to co-ordinate the various service providers to avoid duplication or gaps in the provision of elderly services.
9. The item was voted on and endorsed.
EC(97-98)44 Proposed creation of the following posts in the Department of Health to plan and deliver Elderly Health Services with a new approach and to establish a regulatory framework to control the practice, use and trading of Traditional Chinese Medicine -
- a permanent post of Assistant Director of Health (D2) with effect from 1 March 1998; and
- two permanent posts of one Consultant (D4/D3/D2) and one Assistant Director of Health (D2) with effect from 1 April 1998
10. Referring to the proposed Assistant Director (Traditional Chinese Medicine) (AD/TCM) post, members noted that the post would be filled by an incumbent medical doctor, trained in western medicine, who had been filling a supernumerary AD/TCM post created under delegated authority for the purpose. As AD/TCM would be responsible for providing professional support for the drafting and review of legislation for the accreditation of Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and regulation of Chinese medicines, and devising and monitoring standards for quality and safety of Chinese medicines, members questioned the capability of the incumbent doctor without a professional background in Chinese medicine in performing these duties competently. The Deputy Director of Health explained that although the subject matter was on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the incumbent's major responsibilities were essentially public health administration functions, such as establishing and implementing a regulatory framework for TCM. It was therefore not necessary for the incumbent to have been trained in TCM. However, it was recognised that persons trained in TCM should be enlisted into the future regulatory framework. Presently, a professional TCM practitioner was employed on a temporary and full-time basis to provide the support for the AD/TCM. The Department of Health (DH) would deploy TCM professionals to provide professional input. Furthermore, TCM professionals would also be enlisted to participate in the consultative committee system of the future regulatory framework.
11. Responding to a member's query on the need for the two proposed Assistant Director posts to be created on a permanent basis, DD/H said that the experience in the past months had confirmed the need for the two posts in terms of workload. In addition, the areas of responsibilities of the posts concerned, namely the planning, steering and development of elderly health care services and the setting up and implementation of a regulatory framework for TCM, were of long term nature, hence the need for the posts to be created on a permanent basis.
12. On the progress of the development of a regulatory framework for TCM and DH's role in this regard, DD/H advised that DH provided the secretariat support for the Preparatory Committee on Chinese Medicine which had completed its first report in March 1997. The Administration had basically accepted a large part of the Committee's recommendations in this report and issued a consultation document on TCM. Based on the Committee's recommendations and the views collected during the consultation period, the Administration was drafting the concerned legislation, which might be introduced to the legislature in the next legislative session.
13. The item was voted on and endorsed.
||Proposed creation of a permanent post of Chief Structural Engineer (D1) in the Housing Department to head a third Structural Engineering Section in the Development and Construction Branch|
14. In reply to a member's enquiry, the Business Director (Development), Housing Department (BD(D)/HD) confirmed that the proposed Chief Structural Engineer (CSE) post would be responsible for, inter alia, the management of structural consultants and providing structural engineering advice for Private Section Participation Scheme projects.
15. Responding to a member's comment that it might be more appropriate to create the CSE post on a supernumerary basis first and review the staffing requirement after a few months, BD(D)/HD advised that since the Housing Authority had raised the annual housing production target from 35 000 units in the past to the present 50 000 units, the number of construction contracts had substantially increased. As at present, there were about 110 construction contracts being executed. In order to ensure that quality works were produced, an additional full time CSE was needed to oversee the projects and provide professional advice. Based on the past experience, the responsibilities concerned were of permanent nature, and there was no doubt that the post was required on a permanent basis.
16. The item was voted on and endorsed.
||Proposed creation of a permanent post of Assistant Commissioner for Census and Statistics (D2) in the Census and Statistics Department with effect from 1 April 1998 to carry out the responsibilities required for meeting the Special Data Dissemination Standard established by the International Monetary Fund|
17. Responding to a member's enquiry about the work required to meet the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), the Commissioner for Census and Statistics (C/C&S) advised that the SDDS was established by the International Monetary Fund against the background of the Mexican currency Crisis in 1995. The SDDS was a standard concerning the provision of economic and financial data to the local public and the international community. Hong Kong had subscribed to the SDDS since April 1997. In order to comply with the requirements of the SDDS fully, Hong Kong had to improve in the periodicity and timeliness of data, and in the comprehensiveness of the data relating to financial transactions in the Capital and Financial Account. These would be the major responsibilities of the proposed Assistant Commissioner for Census and Statistics (AC/C&S) post.
18. As to why the AC/C&S post was proposed to be permanent rather than supernumerary, C/C&S advised that over the past 10 years, the directorate establishment of the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) had remained unchanged while the workload and responsibilities had increased substantially in response to Hong Kong's economic development and growing demand from the private and public sectors for more comprehensive statistics. The existing four Assistant Commissioners were already stretched to their limit and could hardly take on additional workload arising from the commitment to full compliance with the SDDS in late 1998. One of the additional functions was the compilation of the Balance of Payments, which required the setting up of a complex statistical system and the launching of large-scale surveys to collect data on Hong Kong's external claims and liabilities and external income flows. The full compliance with the SDDS also required enhancements in various areas of economic statistics, in particular the timeliness and periodicity of statistical data, and these in turn required additional directorate input. As the Government's commitment to full compliance with the SDDS was long term, the proposed AC/C&S post was required on a permanent basis.
19. A member pointed out that the task was completely new and questioned the Administration for not creating a supernumerary post under delegated authority for a few months in the first instance to test out the actual workload. If experience during the testing period confirmed that an additional AC post was required, there would be a stronger case for a permanent post. The Deputy Secretary for the Treasury (DS/Tsy) responded that whether a supernumerary post or permanent post should be created depended mainly on the time span of the work requirements. If it was known that the post was only required for a particular job or project which had a defined time limit, a supernumerary post would be created to meet the requirement. However, if it could be confirmed that the work requirements were considerably long term or permanent in nature, the Administration would seek to create the post on a permanent basis. She remarked that supernumerary posts were not created to try out staffing requirement as a stepping stone for the creation of permanent posts.
20. In response, members questioned why among the papers discussed at Establishment Subcommittee meetings, some of the proposals were to make permanent for supernumerary posts already created despite the long term nature of the work involved. Along the Administration's rationale for creating supernumerary posts, these posts should not have been created on a supernumerary basis in the first instance. DS/Tsy explained that in many cases, where permanent posts were clearly envisaged since the work requirements were long term in nature, because of the lead time required for further internal examination and for the proposal to be considered by the Establishment Subcommittee and the Finance Committee, supernumerary posts were created under delegated authority for not more than six months as an expedient measure to meet urgent operational needs. Thus, the creation of supernumerary posts in these cases was not to test the actual work requirements, but an administrative arrangement to enable the smooth operation of the Administration under the overall public finance control mechanism.
21. Noting that an additional 55 non-directorate posts would be created in April 1998, members enquired about the deployment of these staff and the allocation of manpower among the three Economic Divisions in C&SD. C/C&S advised that those new posts would be deployed mainly in the collection of information for the compilation of the Balance of Payments and would be placed under Economic "C" Division.
22. As a related issue, a member suggested that economic statistics in respect of restaurants and hotels should be separately presented, as they were essentially two different industries. C/C&S agreed to take into account the member's suggestion in the future statistical compilation but remarked that segregating the data on the two industries would require the co-operation of hotels to provide separate information on the restaurants within their operations.
23. The item was voted on and endorsed.
||Proposed creation of a permanent post of Chief Treasury Accountant (D1) in the Transport Bureau of the Government Secretariat to head a new Financial Monitoring Unit in the Transport Infrastructure Division|
24. Regarding the historical arrangement for the financial monitoring of public transport operators to be taken up by the Economic Services Bureau, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Economic Services advised that in the past, most public utility operators, including public transport operators, were monitored by the Government under similar profit control schemes. As the monitoring mechanisms were similar, monitoring of all those operators were placed under the responsibility of one single bureau, i.e. the Economic Services Bureau, for the purposes of efficiency and consistency. Over the past few years, public transport operators had been devolved from the respective profit control schemes. As such, it was considered more appropriate for Transport Bureau to take over the financial monitoring of public transport operators.
25. The item was voted on and endorsed.
EC(97-98)48 Proposed creation of the following posts to strengthen the directorate structure of the Post Office -
- two permanent posts of one Principal Executive Officer (D1) and one Chief Systems Manager (D1); and
- a supernumerary post of Chief Controller of Posts (D1) up to 31 July 2000 offset by the deletion of a permanent post of Chief Executive Officer (MPS 45-49)
26. The item was voted on and endorsed.
||Proposed creation of a permanent post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade B1 (D4) offset by the deletion of a permanent post of Administrative Officer Staff Grade B (D3) in the Government Property Agency to upgrade the post of Government Property Administrator|
27. The item was voted on and endorsed.
EC(97-98)50 Proposed creation of a permanent post of Principal Executive Officer (D1) offset by the deletion of a permanent post of Chief Executive Officer (MPS 45-49) in the Offices of the Chief Secretary for Administration and the Financial Secretary of the Government Secretariat to upgrade the post of Head, Departmental Administration Unit
28. The item was voted on and endorsed.
||Proposed creation of 11 permanent posts of two Assistant Commissioner of Police (PPS 56) and nine Chief Superintendent of Police (PPS 55) offset by the deletion of 15 permanent posts of one Deputy Commissioner of Police (PPS 58), one Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (PPS 57), three Assistant Commissioner of Police (PPS 56) and ten Chief Superintendent of Police (PPS 55) to update the existing disciplined directorate structure of the Hong Kong Police Force to enable the Police to cope with changes in its work|
29. The item was voted on and endorsed.
30. The Subcommittee was adjourned at 12:05 pm.
Provisional Legislative Council Secretariat
12 February 1998