Money-saving ideas could translate into cash rewards

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 March, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 March, 2003, 12:00am

Imaginative ideas, including those on how to cut staff and outsource services, could win civil servants $30,000 under a new reward scheme aimed at helping to cut the budget deficit.

The scheme, which was launched yesterday, encourages public servants to make suggestions to help reduce spending. Those with ideas which may lead to savings of more than $1 million will receive the cash reward.

The Permanent Secretary for Civil Service, Rebecca Lai Ko Wing-yee, said: 'We hope to encourage staff to participate actively in bringing ideas to save costs.'

Under the scheme, suggestions that fall outside the range of duties of the staff concerned will be considered. Only those which can be implemented within 12 months will be rewarded.

Proposals touching on civil service pay and conditions of service will not be looked at.

'However, ideas that lead to cutting of staff and outsourcing work could be considered,' Mrs Lai said.

Publicity for the scheme will run until May 17. Posters will be put up and heads of department will be asked to promote the campaign.

An award presentation ceremony will be held in July or August.

The main focus will be on cost-cutting, but proposals on improving efficiency and enhancing the quality of service to the public will continue to be considered under the existing staff suggestions scheme.

Currently, ideas that lead to savings of more than $100,000 bring a reward up to $15,000. In the past three years, about 1,000 suggestions a year were received and some 280 were rewarded each year.

A suggestion made by a staff member at the Registration and Electoral Office in 2000, which has saved manpower by using information technology systems for the registration of voters, has been adopted. It led to a saving of $12 million per year.

Democrat Cheung Man-kwong supported the scheme but said it should be restricted to frontline staff only.

'It should not be applicable to directorate officials who are responsible for finding ways to cut costs,' he said.

Mr Cheung said the reward should be lowered to $10,000 as $30,000 was too high.

Eddie Ng Hak-kim, external affairs director of the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management, supported the scheme.

'You can't rely on the high-ranking officials only. The more front-line a member of staff is, the more he knows where savings could be made.'