Government defends decision to move EPD headquarters

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 June, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 June, 2005, 12:00am

Updated at 5.41pm:
The government on Tuesday defended its controversial decision to move the headquarters of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) to the Revenue Tower.

The move was a necessary part of the department's merger with the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau, a government spokesman said.

He said it was needed in order to bring senior management under one roof.

The government's defence of the move follows criticism from the Oriental Daily and the Sun newspapers on Tuesday morning. The newspapers condemned the department for wasting resources by abandoning an office which had only been renovated two years ago.

'A senior official was accused by his staff of wasting $10 million public money on moving the headquarters from Southorn Centre to the Revenue Tower for sea view,' the Oriental Daily said.

The newspaper quoted DAB legislator Choy So-yuk as saying government departments should not move their offices so casually or waste resources.
In 2003, the paper also criticised the EPD for spending $550,000 on renovating the lobby of its headquarters on the 28th floor of Southorn Centre.

But the government defended the move, claiming it would enhance efficiency.

'From a management perspective, the new organisation cannot function properly if their senior staffers have to waste precious office hours travelling between different offices for internal meetings,' the spokesman argued.

Before the merger on April 1, senior directorates of the EPD were scattered in a number of locations, such as the Southorn Centre, Revenue Tower and Island West Refuse Transfer Station, he explained.

Six senior EPD directors worked in the former headquarters at the Southorn Centre, a floor area of 1,000 square metres. The number of directors doubled after the merger.

'We need new accommodation for the headquarters with sufficient space to allow senior management to work together as a team to achieve operational efficiency,' the spokesman said.

He said the relocation at the new headquarters was in strict compliance with government guidelines. Old furniture and office equipment were also moved to the new headquarters at Revenue Tower.

'There is absolutely no truth in the allegation that we have wasted resources in acquiring new furniture and equipment and created waste in the process. The former headquarters at Southorn Centre has been turned into a one-stop shop customer services centre which has a high patronage rate,' contended the spokesman.