A strongly worded report published by the Legislative Council yesterday called for higher education institutes to review pay packages received by senior management.
The document also criticised the exceptionally high level of remuneration paid to Polytechnic University head Poon Chung-kwong. Speaking after tabling the report in response to an earlier Audit Commission value-for-money investigation, Emily Lau Wai-hing, deputy chairman of the Legco Public Accounts Committee, said there was a need for restructuring the existing pay mechanism for all eight local higher education institutions. She said changes were needed to improve transparency and accountability regarding the use of public funds.
'The committee is seriously concerned that the Polytechnic University pays its president a monthly cash allowance ... As a result, his total monthly cash remuneration is not only higher than that approved by the Finance Committee in 1996, but is also the highest among the heads of all the local institutions,' she said. An Audit Commission investigation earlier found that Mr Poon was paid a monthly cash allowance of $177,000, including $138,000 provided in lieu of housing benefits and leave passage, on top of his normal salary of $181,700.
The committee also said it was seriously concerned that a panel overseeing Mr Poon's personal affairs had not consulted the university's council before making the pay decision.
Noting that universities, being partly funded by public money, have no guidelines on disclosure of the pay packages of their senior staff, the committee recommended that all institutions should review their current packages as they are generally high.
'The committee ... is concerned that in general the average salaries of the academic staff of universities in Hong Kong appear to be on the high side.
'Moreover, the pay levels of some of the key management staff ... of the institutions also appear to be high compared to those of their comparable civil service counterparts,' Ms Lau said.