on 5 November 1997
ITEM FOR ESTABLISHMENT SUBCOMMITTEE OF
HEAD 144 - GOVERNMENT SECRETARIAT :
CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS BUREAU
Subhead 001 Salaries
Members are invited to recommend to Finance Committee -
- the creation of the following supernumerary posts up to 31 March 1999 -
1 Administrative Officer Staff Grade B
(D3) ($127,900 - $135,550)
1 Administrative Officer Staff Grade C
(D2) ($110,000 - $116,800)
- 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 Constitutional Affairs Bureau in 1997-98 from $14,966,000 by $1,451,460 to $16,417,460 to allow the creation of two non-directorate posts.
The Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (SCA) needs additional staff to take forward the review of the structure of local representative government.
2.To assist SCA in conducting a review of the structure of local representative government, we propose to -
- create two supernumerary posts, comprising one Administrative Officer Staff Grade B (AOSGB)(D3) post and one Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (AOSGC)(D2) post, for the period up to 31 March 1999; and
- increase the establishment ceiling placed on the total notional annual mid-point salary (NAMS) value of the Constitutional Affairs Bureau (CAB) in 1997-98 from $14,966,000 by $1,451,460 to $16,417,460 to permit the creation of two non-directorate posts.
Need for review of local representative government
3.In September this year, the Provisional Legislative Council (PLC) passed a motion calling on the Government to conduct a comprehensive review of district administration, including the roles, functions, division of labour and resources allocation of the two Municipal Councils and the District Boards, so that district administration can better complement the development of society. In October, the Chief Executive announced in his Policy Address that CAB would conduct such a review.
4.Against this background, SCA has set out a broad timetable for the review which is at Enclosure 1. According to the timetable, preparation work for the review needs to start immediately and the review will last until September/October next year when we will take a decision on the future structure of local representative government. SCA briefed in his briefing for PLC Members in October of the timetable. The timetable at Enclosure 1 indicates that. preparation work for the review needs to start now. The review will last until September/October next year when a decision will be taken on the future structure of local representative government.
Scope of review
5.As stated in the Chief Executive's policy address, the review will take a fresh look at the Municipal Councils and the District Boards. It will be a comprehensive review covering a number of important issues, including -
- whether the existing two-tier system of Municipal Councils and District Boards should be maintained and streamlined, or whether the two tiers should be merged into a single-tier system; and
- should there be any change to the present structure -
- the roles and functions of the "new" bodies;
- the financial arrangement for the "new" bodies;
- the executive support for the "new" bodies; and
- the necessary transitional arrangements for effecting the changes.
We will set up an inter-departmental steering group to define the scope of the review in detail and to oversee the conduct of the review.
Need for a new team
6.SCA is currently supported by two Deputy Secretaries, designated respectively as Deputy Secretary (Constitutional Affairs) 1 (DS(CA)1) and Deputy Secretary (Constitutional Affairs) 2 (DS(CA)2), each in charge of a division. Division One, headed by DS(CA)1, is responsible for overseeing the full implementation of the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, and the relationship between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government and the Central People's Government and other Mainland authorities. Division Two, headed by DS(CA)2, oversees election arrangements and has a full schedule during the run-up to the first HKSAR Legislative Council election to be held in May next year. As both divisions are now fully occupied, SCA needs additional staff resources to take on the review.
Responsibilities and composition of the new team
7.We propose to set up a new team in CAB, on a temporary basis, to take up the following responsibilities -
- to convene and to service the inter-departmental steering group;
- to formulate the scope of and the strategy for the review;
- to attend meetings with the Constitutional Affairs Panel of the PLC, the Provisional Municipal Councils and District Boards, the political parties and interested groups;
- to liaise with bureaux and departments involved in the exercise;
- to prepare a public consultation document, to collect, collate and analyse comments and views on the proposals, and to monitor public opinion;
- to formulate recommendations on the future structure of local representative government; and
- to implement the decisions arising from the review.
8.Given these important tasks and heavy workload, we propose to set up a new team comprising the following posts -
- one supernumerary AOSGB post, to be designated as Deputy Secretary (Constitutional Affairs) 3 (DS(CA)3);
- one supernumerary AOSGC post, to be designated as Principal Assistant Secretary (Constitutional Affairs) 6 (PAS(CA)6); and
- two non-directorate posts, comprising one Senior Administrative Officer (SAO) post and one Administrative Officer (AO) post, to be designated as Assistant Secretary (6A) (AS(6A)) and Assistant Secretary (6B) (AS(6B)) respectively.
The proposed organisation chart of CAB is at Enclosure 2.
9.The head of the review team will be the convenor of the inter-departmental steering group and will take overall responsibility for co-ordinating the review. More specifically, he will be responsible for formulating the strategy for public consultation, preparing the public consultation document, and formulating recommendations on the future structure of local representative government. As officer-in-charge of such an important review, he will need to
maintain close liaison with the Chief Executive, top Government Officials, Directors of Bureaux and Heads of Department, and to conduct frequent meetings with the Executive Council, PLC, Provisional Municipal Councils, Provisional District Boards, and political parties. Given the level of responsibility and the importance of the duties involved, we consider that the head of the review team should be a senior directorate officer at the AOSGB (D3) level with the necessary experience and ability to handle delicate political issues.
10.In order to provide adequate directorate support to the team leader, we also propose the creation of an AOSGC (D2) post, to be designated as Principal Assistant Secretary PAS(CA)6 post, to assist in formulating policy proposals, in connection with the review, liaising with the concerned relevant bureaux and departments, and attending working or /consultation meetings with various councils/boards/interested parties. The job descriptions for the two directorate posts are at Enclosures 3 and 4.
11.The two Assistant Secretaries, ranked at SAO and AO levels, will assist the two directorate officers in such duties as analysing public opinion and conducting research. If Members approve this proposal, we will create the two non-directorate posts through the normal departmental establishment committee machinery.
12.We will provide the new team with the necessary secretarial support through deploying existing resources within CAB.
13.The review is now in the public domain and has become a subject of public debate. In order to maintain the momentum, we need to set up the inter-departmental steering group as soon as possible. We will shortly arrange meetings with the Provisional Municipal Councils, the Provisional District Boards and the political parties to solicit their views on this matter. According to the work schedule at Enclosure 1, we need to complete the review by September/October 1998, and thereafter to implement the decisions arising from the review. On this basis, we propose to create the two directorate posts on a supernumerary basis up to 31 March 1999. We will delete the two non-directorate posts as and when the review is completed.
14.The additional notional annual salary cost of this proposal at mid-point is -
|$||No. of posts
|Supernumerary directorate posts||2,941,200||2
The full annual average staff cost of the proposal, including salaries and staff on-costs, is $7,547,856.
15.We have not included any provision under CAB in the 1997-98 Estimates to meet the cost of this proposal, which is estimated to be $1,872,025 for the remainder of this financial year. Subject to Members' approval, we will provide the supplementary provision required under delegated authority. We will include the necessary provision in the 1998-99 draft Estimates.
16.The existing system of local representative government operates on the basis of a two-tier structure that comprises two Municipal Councils and 18 District Boards. At the regional level, the Provisional Urban Council and the Provisional Regional Council are responsible for the provision of a wide range of municipal services to the people in the urban areas and the New Territories respectively. They play an important role in safeguarding environmental and food hygiene and public health as well as providing culture services and sports and recreational facilities. Both Councils are financially autonomous. Their revenue mainly comes from a share of the rates on premises levied by the Government.
17.At the district level, the 18 Provisional District Boards play an essentially advisory role on district matters and on territory-wide issues as appropriate. They advise the Government on matters affecting the interests or well-being of the people in the districts, the provision and use of public services and facilities within the districts, and the adequacy and priorities of Government programmes for the districts. The Provisional District Boards are also responsible for overseeing the management of community halls. Public funds are made available to Provisional District Boards for the implementation of minor environmental improvement and community involvement projects in the districts.
CIVIL SERVICE BUREAU COMMENTS
18.Civil Service Bureau agrees that the establishment of a new team in CAB is necessary to assume overall responsibility for the review of the structure of local representative government. The ranking, grading and duration of the proposed posts are appropriate having regard to their duties and responsibilities.
ADVICE OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON DIRECTORATE SALARIES AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE
19.As the posts are proposed on a supernumerary basis, we will report their creation, if approved, to the Standing Committee on Directorate Salaries and Conditions of Service in accordance with the agreed procedure.
Constitutional Affairs Bureau
Enclosure 1 to EC(97-98)32
Review of Structure of Local Representative Government : Timetable
|October to December
||Soliciting the views of from interested parties and the public, including meeting with the Provisional Urban Council, the Provisional Regional Council, the Provisional District Boards, and political parties.|
Setting up of an inter-departmental steering group to oversee the conduct of the review, to be convened by CAB with participation from other relevant bureaux and departments.
|January to April
||Internal review, including preparation of consultation document.|
|May to June|
|July to August
||Deliberations process having regard to comments received during the public consultation period.|
||Decision on the future structure of local representative government.|
|From October onwards|
Enclosure 3 to EC(97-98)32
Job Description of Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (3)
(Administrative Officer Staff Grade B (D3))
Responsible to the Secretary for Constitutional Affairs for the following duties -
- overall responsibility for co-ordinating the review on the structure of local representative government;
- convening the inter-departmental steering group for the review;
- formulating the strategy for public consultation and preparing the public consultation document;
- formulating recommendations on the future structure of local representative government;
- co-ordinating the preparation for transitional arrangements arising from any change to the present structure of local representative government;
- attending Chief Secretary's Policy Group meetings; and
- supervising the work of the new team.
Enclosure 4 to EC(97-98)32
Job Description of Principal Assistant Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (6)
(Administrative Officer Staff Grade C (D2))
Responsible to the Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs (3) for the following duties -
- providing support in the co-ordination of the review and the work in the inter-departmental steering group;
- attending meetings with the provisional municipal councils and district boards, and the political parties;
- assisting in -
- formulating strategy for public consultation;
- preparing the public consultation document; and
- formulating recommendations on the future structure of local representative government;
- analysing policy issues and public opinion/media reaction arising from the review;
- liaising with the concerned bureaux and departments; and
- assisting in the preparation and co-ordination of transitional arrangements after the conclusion of the review.