Scrap holiday benefits for civil servants: lawmakers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 12:00am

Legislators entered the controversy over cuts to civil servants' allowances yesterday, saying the government is not doing enough to cut the fringe benefits of senior civil servants.

The legislators at Legco's public service panel meeting said holiday allowances for senior officials should be scrapped, not just reduced.

They said the government showed favouritism by slashing the allowances of junior officers while sparing senior staff. But Secretary for the Civil Service Joseph Wong Wing-ping denied that the cuts targeted any particular ranks.

Independent legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip said: 'For junior staff, [the cuts are] like cutting their flesh and draining away their blood. But when it comes to senior staff, it's almost impossible to pick a hair from them.'

The Civil Service Bureau has tightened civil service perks in recent years, and the hardest-hit so far are mainly lower-ranking staff. The bureau says it plans to cut the fringe benefits of senior staff.

Officials said there is no plan to entirely scrap the holiday subsidy. The allowance ranges from $11,000 to $43,000 for each officer each year.

Job-related allowance spending has been cut by 8.8 per cent from the 2001-2002 level to $1.47 billion in 2002-2003. Such allowances include hardship pay and working overnight or during a typhoon.

Mr Wong said fringe benefits were different from duty-related allowances because they were part of the terms of appointment, and that scrapping them would be a major change.