Lawmakers could get extra money to help retain staff
Fanny W.Y. Fung
The Legislative Council Secretariat has put forward proposals to increase the financial allowance for lawmakers to hire staff, conduct research and buy office equipment.
This follows the results of a survey last year in which legislators said that they lacked resources to hire sufficient staff and were having trouble retaining staff because the pay was low. The average turnover for full-time staff was 34 per cent.
Under the proposal, submitted to lawmakers yesterday, pay for staff at Legco members' offices could be increased with reference to comparable civil service positions. The monthly allowance for staff payment, calculated based on the assumption each legislator hires seven staff, would be increased to HK$137,774, from the present average of about HK$95,400. This would mean an additional HK$142 million for the staff of all 70 legislators over the next four-year term.
An end-of-service gratuity is proposed for full-time staff working for lawmakers, an arrangement similar to that for civil servants.
In response to lawmakers' complaints that they did not have enough resources to hire research personnel - 24 said they had to conduct research themselves - the secretariat estimated the additional funds needed at HK$11,145 per month per legislator, or HK$37 million for the whole of next term for all legislators.
Another paper sought lawmakers' views on raising the cap on expenses for setting up offices and for equipment. At present, each legislator is eligible for reimbursement of up to HK$150,000 a term for setting up one central and two district offices, and HK$100,000 for information technology and communications equipment. The survey suggested that each member was short an average of HK$232,422.
A subcommittee will discuss the proposals on Tuesday.