Government may expand function of district councils

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 April, 2006, 12:00am

Updated at 6.22pm:
The government on Thursday proposed expanding the function of District Councils by allowing members to participate in managing facilities such as public libraries, swimming pools and recreational venues.

The proposal was included in a consultation paper released on Thursday afternoon.

Announcing the details, Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung told reporters the government would set up a management committee. He invited district councillors to participate.

Under the proposal, committee members can table their ideas or recommendations on policy and resource allocation to government departments.

It would be for departments to decide whether to implement the district councillors' recommendations. The departments would also have to bear the ultimate responsibility for their decisions, Mr Lam said.

Facilities which the council members would help manage include community halls, district libraries, leisure grounds, sports venues, swimming pools and beaches.

'The package of proposals which we have put forth today are meant to strengthen the roles and functions of the District Councils in delivering services to the public in the 18 districts of Hong Kong,' Mr Lam said.

The new arrangement would be implemented by January 2007 at the earliest - on a pilot basis in several districts.

A three-month public consultation on the proposal was launched on Thursday.

Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping said the government planned to create a dedicated capital works vote, with an annual provision of $300 million, for the District Councils to carry out minor works.

The District Councils are advisory bodies to the government on district administration.

Currently, there are more than 500 district councillors, about 400 of them returned by direct election. Some 20 are ex-officio members, who are also the chairmen of rural affairs committees, and some 100 are appointed by the Chief Executive.