Lawmakers to get 10pc salary rise

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 March, 2012, 12:00am

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Lawmakers will get a 10 per cent pay rise and more operating expenses in the new legislative term that starts in October. It comes after the Executive Council's adoption of the recommendation of an independent commission.

The pay rise will lift lawmakers' monthly salary from HK$73,150 to HK$80,465. That is little more than half the amount they would have received had a controversial proposal by a Legislative Council subcommittee been adopted.

In addition, lawmakers' annual budget for operating costs - for staff salaries and office rents - will rise from about HK$1.7 million to HK$2 million.

The wage increase has yet to be approved by Legco's Finance Committee, but its chairwoman, Emily Lau Wai-hing, said she expected it to be passed.

The recommendation came after a heated debate last month when the Legco subcommittee proposed pegging lawmakers' wages to about half the pay of ministers, meaning they would have received about HK$141,000 a month.

But the proposal backfired amid public discontent with lawmakers' performance and a debate on whether directly elected and functional constituency lawmakers should be paid the same.

Lau had written to the government asking for a mechanism to decide lawmakers' pay, as they were also split on whether their pay should be linked to that of heads of government bureaus.

A government spokesman said yesterday the Executive Council had approved the commission's recommendation to increase lawmakers' pay by 10 per cent.

Under the new arrangement, lawmakers will be able to carry forward any unspent surplus from their expenses for staff wages and office rents, giving them more flexibility to retain experienced staff.

The wage increases are expected to add about HK$126.6 million in costs over the four-year term.

But the government said lawmakers would have more resources to better serve the community.

It said the independent commission had adopted a holistic approach and took into account a basket of factors before making its recommendation. Those factors include lawmakers' increased workload, public expectations, and salaries and rental costs in the private sector.

However, Lau said the increased operating budget remained insufficient for lawmakers to retain staff or attract young talents to pursue a career in politics, as most were underpaid at about HK$10,000 a month.

Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said he respected the commission's decision. 'Our party's stance has been allowing the independent commission to decide on the issue because they would have acquired better information than us,' he said.

Tam said he was still concerned that the newly created 'super-seat' lawmakers who will be elected by more than three million voters across the city would be short of resources. But he did not want the lawmakers to be paid differently.

$192,500

The annual tax-free pay, in Singapore dollars, of lawmakers in Singapore. That's HK$1.18m, or about HK$98,300 a month

 

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