'Lavish perks' for civil servants under fire
Legislators have attacked 'lavish' perks and allowances for civil servants after it was revealed they rose in at least 20 categories last year, including those for furniture and working during typhoons, despite moves to restrict them.
According to figures tabled at the special Legco briefing on the Budget yesterday, subsidies earmarked for senior officials' children studying overseas will also jump by more than 10 per cent to $432 million in 2002-03.
The local education allowance is budgeted for a seven per cent rise, to $260 million.
The rises came despite those benefits being scrapped for new recruits in 1996 and 2000.
Total allowances and payment of fringe benefits cost taxpayers $6.1 billion in 2001-02 - a $300 million fall on the previous year. But spending in at least 20 areas, such as housing, furniture, being on-call, acting at a higher rank or working during typhoons, increased compared with 2000-01.
Democrat Cheung Man-kwong yesterday hit out at the 'lavish' payment in the tough economic times. He questioned why the payments continued to spiral despite new recruits not being able to receive some benefits.
'You should tighten the eligibility in light of public sentiments,' he said.
Secretary for the Civil Service Joseph Wong Wai-ping said some obsolete allowances had already been scrapped for new recruits.
But the majority are still 'in theory' entitled to claim education allowances and other benefits guaranteed in their conditions of service, he said.
According to the Civil Service Bureau, at least 42 officials posted overseas would be entitled to 'disturbance' allowances in the new financial year worth $4.47 million. Eighty directorate rank officials are still eligible for air-conditioning allowances, costing an annual $235,000, while $14 million has been set aside in rent for officials overseas and other spending on furniture and household appliances.