Give us more cash and a medical allowance, district councillors say

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 August, 2009, 12:00am

The government should pay district councillors more to help them in their efforts to fix neighbourhood problems, the chairmen of the 18 councils say.

Meeting Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing with their Legislative Council representative, Ip Kwok-him, they called for benefits on a par with those given to lawmakers.

The councillors want an end-of-office gratuity equivalent to 15 per cent of their monthly HK$20,000 honorarium, similar to measures introduced for legislators.

Since last year lawmakers have also received an annual medical allowance of HK$26,000, and councillors want a similar payment. 'Compared to the work of lawmakers, whose job is mostly to sit in meetings, district councillors face more difficulties,' Mr Ip said.

'It is much easier for them to be injured while helping residents in the districts.' At present, the 534 district councillors have to pay their own medical costs even if they are injured while on duty. Mr Ip said his colleagues often suffered injuries when helping residents with problems like leaking pipes.

They get a HK$4,000 monthly allowance for non-accountable expenses such as transport and meals.

Mr Ip said Mr Tsang promised to review the problems faced by cash-strapped councillors, especially full-time ones.

Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, of Power for Democracy, which has also called for a review of district councillors' benefits, said that the government should revise the roles and duties of the advisory bodies, some of whose members do no more than attend a few meetings.

'The crux of the problem is the lack of representativeness of the councils, and all appointed members should be scrapped,' Mr Tsoi said.

The chief executive appoints more than 100 members to the district councils, while the rest are either elected or filled by rural leaders.

Out on a limb

District councillors have to pay their own medical costs even if they are injured while on duty

They want an annual medical allowance similar to the payment lawmakers receive of, in HK dollars, $26,000