Select few resist Tung's target for productivity gain
Tung Chee-hwa's order for a five per cent productivity gain has been resisted by some taxpayer-funded agencies, it has emerged.
The Treasury yesterday admitted some government-subsidised bodies had asked to be exempted from the target. Deputy Secretary for the Treasury Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the target would not be achieved if subvented bodies did not follow it.
'We believe subvented bodies have a great potential in savings as they are not bound by the restrictions in the civil service regulations,' she told the public service panel.
The payroll for the thousands of subvented bodies, at $61.8 billion, is $1.8 billion higher than for the civil service in the current financial year.
Mrs Lam said the five per cent gain in three years was not for negotiation, but agencies would be given flexibility if they had problems.
'The number is very small. I expect them to follow the target after our persuasion,' she said.
To encourage compliance, bylaws governing appointments and financing in subvented bodies will be relaxed. The Government has considered setting up a central fund so departments can apply for a one-off grant for new projects as a reward for hitting the target.
The Frontier legislator Lee Cheuk-yan voiced worries that frontline or junior staff, such as those employed by the Hospital Authority, would be sacked.
'I don't think management who map out the saving plans will axe themselves,' he said.
Mrs Lam said she expected savings to made primarily from service restructuring.
She suggested maternity services could be scaled down because the number of Vietnamese refugees giving birth in Hong Kong had dropped as had the overall birth rate in the SAR.
Part of the $600 million spent on youth centres each year might be redeployed to strengthen school counselling services.
She said departments with poor efficiency would be required to achieve more.