Unions wary of increase in councils' powers
Unions representing frontline civil servants managing district facilities have voiced reservations over a government proposal to allow more participation by district councils in area management.
They say this would mean they would be caught between different political forces in the districts.
Chan Wan-sang, executive committee member of the Union of Leisure and Cultural Services Department Contract Staff, said the union feared district councillors would put forward suggestions that violated professional practices, in an attempt to woo voters.
Ip Ka-lai, chairman of the Association of Managers, Cultural Services, said he hoped district councils would refrain from interfering in professional arrangements after the reform proposal was implemented.
The comments were made during a meeting of the Legislative Council's panel on constitutional affairs yesterday.
In a consultation paper released in April, the government proposed the 18 councils jointly suggest proposals for the management of nearly 1,700 district facilities, including libraries, swimming pools and community halls.
The councils would also be empowered to initiate and endorse projects costing up to $15 million each, to be financed from a $600 million annual fund for minor works projects and recreational and cultural activities.
A three-month consultation on the reform proposals is due to conclude at the end of the month.
The Government Librarians Association said the consultation document did not elaborate on how district councils would manage libraries.
Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said 340 out of 502 district councillors backed the reform proposals.
Pilot schemes for management of district facilities would take place in five districts in January, she said.