Agency blasted over labour irregularities

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 February, 2008, 12:00am
 

The Housing Department's lenient approach towards its contractors' labour protection irregularities is 'unacceptable', a Legislative Council committee has said.

The Public Accounts Committee, in a report issued yesterday, said lawmakers were 'dismayed and find it unacceptable that the [department] had adopted a lenient approach in the management of property service agents and contractors'.

It said that out of 117 cases the department identified, only 17 were referred to labour protection enforcement authorities. Two default notices were issued and withdrawn.

Lawmakers also deplored the fact that property service agents failed to tell housing officials about hawking in their estates and noted the department lacked a central record of such activities, the report said.

However, it noted the director of housing's efforts to reform the monitoring mechanism to take on a more hardline approach, and that a study was under way on how to better handle the hawking problems.

Committee chairman Philip Wong Yu-hong said its members agreed on the strong tone of its criticisms of the department, singled out in its report, which considered satisfactory the management of departments that the Director of Audit monitored.

A separate report is due on the Tourism Board, which has been accused of lax governance and exorbitant payouts in various guises to former executive director Clara Chong Ming-wah.

Mr Wong said he could not predict when the committee would complete its hearings, noting that it had already held 14 public hearings totalling 42 hours, not including closed-door sessions. 'I'm sure this has already broken all records.'

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