$20m for 10 officials forced to retire

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 February, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 February, 2002, 12:00am

Ten senior officials have been forced to retire with compensation of $20 million under a scheme to get rid of mediocre staff, the Government has revealed.

But to dispel concerns over the amount, the Civil Service Bureau has also outlined how much taxpayers would have had to pay if the officials had stayed until their normal retirement age.

According to the bureau, a 45-year-old directorate-grade official with 20 years' service, earning $130,050 a month, would receive $5.3 million in compensation if forced out.

This is $1.75 million more than he would receive if he quit voluntarily. But it is $1.16 million less than he would get if he was to serve until 60, according to the bureau. Salary payments for his remaining 15 years of service would also cost taxpayers $23.4 million.

The bureau has come under attack for keeping lawmakers in the dark about compensation details under the forced retirement scheme. Critics had also questioned if mediocre officials deserved such compensation.

In a paper defending the scheme, the bureau maintained that all details had been clearly explained when it was put to Legco for approval. The compensation was normal practice for loss of fringe benefits, it said.

The bureau disclosed that 10 officials had retired since the scheme was introduced in September 2000, costing $11.4 million in pension payments and $7.9 million in ex-gratia payments. It had previously refused to comment on the amounts or who received them.

'We will continue to implement the scheme with a view to safeguarding and enhancing the quality at the directorate level,' officials said.

Meanwhile, the bureau said there were 184,300 civil servants as of last month, seven per cent down from March 2000 - still short of the target of 181,000 by March next year.