on 22 October 1997
ITEM FOR ESTABLISHMENT SUBCOMMITTEE OF
HEAD 91 - LANDS DEPARTMENT
Subhead 001 Salaries
Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee an increase in the ceiling placed on the total notional annual mid-point salary value of all non-directorate posts in the permanent establishment of the Lands Department in 1997-98 from $978,809,000 by $9,201,000 to $988,010,000 to permit the creation of 25 non-directorate posts.
The Director of Lands does not have adequate staffing support to process the land related work associated with the construction of the Mass Transit Railway Tseung Kwan O Extension (TKE) and the Quarry Bay Congestion Relief Works (QBR).
2.We propose to increase the ceiling placed on the total notional annual mid-point salary value of the Lands Department (Lands D) in 1997-98 from $978,809,000 by $9,201,000 to $988,010,000 to permit the creation of 25 non-directorate posts to enable Lands D to deal with land resumption, licensing and management work related to the TKE and QBR projects.
3.We set up a Railway Development (RD) Section in the Lands Administration Office of the Lands D in June 1997 to look after all land related matters arising from the high priority railway projects recommended under the 1994 Railway Development Strategy (RDS). The section, headed by a Government Land Agent (D2) and supported by one Chief Estate Surveyor (D1), one Chief Land Surveyor (D1) and 93 non-directorate staff, comprises a land administration unit handling resumption, clearance and supervision of short and long term land disposal, a land survey unit providing the necessary survey and mapping support services, and two other units dealing with claims for business loss and legal matters. Since its establishment, the section has been working under pressure. With the exception of QBR, we need to gazette all the railway projects for objections under the provisions of the new Railways Ordinance enacted on 13 June 1997. This Ordinance imposes a statutory time frame of nine months within which the Administration will have to resolve objections raised by the public. This has placed considerable time pressure on the work of the section.
4.We gazetted West Rail (WR) Phase I (Tai Lam Tunnel Section) on 25 July 1997 and the remainder of the project on 3 October 1997. The staff of the RD Section are now fully engaged to work on this project. In the light of the progress of other railway projects, we have recently reviewed the workload of the section and found that the existing manpower in the section is only sufficient to commence resumption, clearance and disposal of land for the WR Phase I. There are inadeqaute staffing resources to cope at the same time with the workload arising from the other high priority railway projects.
5.On 26 September 1997, we gazetted Phase I of the TKE project (i.e. the section from Yau Tong to Po Lam) under the Railways Ordinance. We will gazette the depot location and the spur line connection near Tseung Kwan O Station as Phase II of the TKE project under the Railways Ordinance at a later date when we have finalised the details. We need to start work immediately to enable the Mass Transit Railway Corporation (MTRC) to commence construction of the project in 1998-99 for completion in 2002. Whilst the amount of private land affected under the TKE scheme is likely to be minimal, MTRC has requested development rights over/adjacent to four stations and the TKE depot. This is a subject requiring sustained discussions between Government and MTRC. Lands D will have to agree with MTRC the details of the developments, carry out land control and management functions, put legal documentation in hand and expedite the allocation of land for construction and disposal for property development. These entail complex and time-consuming planning and negotiations with MTRC, interested public bodies and the Government departments concerned, and will put considerable pressure on the staff of Lands D in order to accomplish these tasks within a tight time frame.
6.The QBR is also an urgently required project for provision of an additional interchange station at North Point to relieve the existing congestion at Quarry Bay Station. Latest assessment shows that the implementation of the QBR will necessitate the resumption of 7.2 hectares of private land. Since the project will mainly affect only underground strata, we expect that resumption and clearance will not be contentious. Notwithstanding this, land management and temporary disposal work will demand input of professional and technical staff to take forward short-term disposal of sites so that MTRC can commence construction before end 1997 for completion by December 2000.
7.In view of the urgency of the QBR project, the RD Section has redeployed some of its existing resources to start preparing the Railway Area Plan and some of the land resumption functions. The Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) and MTRC have given their assistance where appropriate in some of the non-statutory and administrative land activities in respect of the WR, TKE and QBR. However, statutory land resumption and administration work remain the functions of Lands D.
8.The RD Section, already stretched to its limit with workload from the WR Phase I, is unable to cope in full the additional requirement from TKE and QBR. We have examined the possibility of redeployment of resources from the non-railway related sections of the Lands D to assist in the work related to QBR and TKE. Due to the need to meet concurrent demands from projects under the Public Works Programme and other priority items for the increase of housing supply, we are not able to make further redeployment.
9.In order to ensure timely construction of the TKE and QBR, Lands D requires immediate creation of 25 additional non-directorate posts for licensing and land management work in connection with the projects, land disposal by private treaty grant in respect of the TKE, as well as leasing of the site of both railways to MTRC. The proposed organisation chart of the RD Section is at Enclosure 1. A list of the proposed posts is at Enclosure 2. Subject to Members' approval, we will create the posts under the normal Departmental Establishment Committee machinery as soon as possible.
10.The additional notional annual salary cost of the proposal at mid-point is $9,201,000. The full annual average staff cost of the proposal, including salaries and staff on-costs, is $15,972,792. We have not included sufficient provision in the 1997-98 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal. Subject to Members' approval, we will provide supplementary provision for the remainder of this financial year under delegated authority when required.
11.Members approved the creation of three supernumerary posts of one Government Land Agent (D2), one Chief Estate Surveyor (D1) and one Chief Land Surveyor (D1) for a period of five years on 20 June 1997 to head the new RD Section of Lands D to implement the high priority railway projects recommended by the RDS. The high priority railway projects include the WR, the TKE/QBR, and the Ma On Shan to Tai Wai Rail Link/KCRC Hung Hom to Tsim Sha Tsui Extension.
CIVIL SERVICE BUREAU COMMENTS
12.Civil Service Bureau considers it necessary to increase the establishment ceiling of Lands D to allow the creation of 25 non-directorate posts for land resumption, licensing and land management works associated with the TKE and QBR projects.
Enclosure 2 to EC(97-98)28
List of the 25 proposed posts
|Senior Estate Surveyor|
Senior Survey Officer
Land Inspector I
Assistant Clerical Officer
Personal Secretary II
|Survey and Mapping|
|Senior Land Surveyor|
Senior Survey Officer
Senior Technical Officer
|Legal Advisory and |
|Assistant Clerical Officer|