Exco due to discuss civil service retirement plan

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 January, 2003, 12:00am

Voluntary retirement plans to help cut the size of the civil service are expected to be discussed by the Executive Council as early as today.

Compensation is understood to have been substantially reduced in light of financial constraints. The first phase of the voluntary retirement scheme in 2000 attracted more than 9,000 staff from 59 grades deemed as overstaffed or obsolete in the 180,000-strong bureaucracy.

Those retiring were given compensation based on their years of service, plus an ex-gratia payment equal to nine months' salary. The package cost taxpayers $2.78 billion.

A government source said the ex-gratia payment in the second phase would be reduced substantially or even cancelled.

But eligible staff will be compensated with one month's salary for every two years' service. The total compensation amount will be capped at a level much lower than the ceiling of 20 months in the first phase.

Subject to the Executive Council's approval, the scheme would be launched in April, the source said.

With the deficit expected to top $70 billion by March, Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa announced in his policy speech that civil service jobs would be cut by 10 per cent to 160,000 by 2006-07 to help save money.

The president of the Chinese Civil Servants' Association, Cecilia So Chui-kuen, stressed that participation must be voluntary.

She also urged management to ensure that the departures would not compromise the quality of public service or leave others with too much work.

Speaking after talks with staff representatives yesterday, Secretary for the Civil Service Joseph Wong Wing-ping said the second phase was open to all grades. He said heads of department and heads of grade would have discretion in deciding the number of staff and the ranks eligible.