Luxury office plan to speed up work rejected

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 February, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 February, 1999, 12:00am

A $140 million plan to make welfare officers work faster by offering them more luxurious and spacious offices has been vetoed by legislators.

The plan called for replacing carpets and furniture and installing more computers and printers at 35 social security field units. It would have cost $420 on average to refurbish each square foot of office space.

The upgrading could help staff work faster and cut clients' waiting time by five minutes, the Finance Committee's public works sub-committee heard yesterday.

But legislators condemned it as extravagant.

Lee Wing-tat of the Democratic Party said the refurbishment was almost as costly as building a new public unit, which would cost $450 per square foot.

Emily Lau Wai-hing of The Frontier said: 'The Government cuts welfare for the needy to save $600 million. And now it wants to spend $140 million for luxury offices for civil servants.' Deputy Director of Social Welfare Rachel Cartland said many of the offices were old and the working environment was not acceptable to staff.

At yesterday's meeting, members approved $661.1 million in funding for roads and to reclaim five hectares of seabed off Tsuen Wan Bay for the West Rail project.