Funding bungle leaves 60 ICAC recruits adrift

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 March, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 March, 1996, 12:00am

A batch of 60 new ICAC investigators will start a month late after a bureaucratic bungle failed to secure funds for their salaries.

The largest intake of anti-corruption officers was expected to start training on April 1, but is now unable to begin until early May.

Independent Commission Against Commission assistant director, administration, Bryan Hemshall said yesterday: 'We will not have been in a position to offer them appointments because we would not have obtained the necessary Legislative Council approval.' The ICAC normally sends appointment letters at least one month before the starting date to allow time for prospective employees to leave other jobs.

However, it was realised Commissioner Michael Leung Man-kin would not appear before the Finance Committee until March 22 for approval of 1996-97 funds - a week before the new recruits were due to arrive.

The agency is seeking approval for the posts as part of its overall $551.48 million package for the coming financial year.

Mr Hemshall said recruiters in the ICAC's Operations Department had assumed the funds were secure after provisional agreement with the Finance Branch, an oversight which could have proved 'dangerous', he said.

The recruiters were told 'there is a possibility, albeit a remote possibility, that the Finance Committee might not give us financial provision for these posts,' Mr Hemshall said.

The new recruits have not received anything in writing.

'I can only perceive that they are waiting patiently for a letter of offer.' Securing funds has been further complicated because the officers were being taken on for the 1998 village representative elections, a new ICAC responsibility. But the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Ordinance under which they would operate has yet to be amended to accommodate the role.