Entry salaries for government jobs are to be overhauled to bring them into line with the private sector. The Government is to conduct for the first time a comprehensive 'qualification benchmark review' of all 300-plus grades. The study will compare qualification requirements and starting salaries between government jobs and the private sector. The last review, nine years ago, led to a package of adjustments. A government source said the pay scale of new recruits might be altered. 'The social and economic structures have changed a lot over the past decade. We need to catch up with the latest trend and keep our terms attractive,' he said. More than $16 million has been earmarked for the two-year research to be conducted by the Standing Commission on Civil Service Salaries and Conditions of Service. Tung Chee-hwa will be advised on any necessary adjustments. The economic downturn has raised fears entry salaries could be reduced, but the source said the next few months would only focus on preparations. The actual survey would be conducted following the pay adjustment for incumbent civil servants in the summer. City University Public and Social Administration Department head Dr Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said civil service posts were still competitive. 'The Government entry salary is still much higher than that offered by private firms,' Dr Cheung said, adding that government jobs had become more attractive with many private companies suffering in the regional crisis. A Civil Service Bureau spokesman said it was premature to speculate on whether the pay scale would be affected. 'We shall consider whether the salary of the entry ranks needs to be adjusted after the results are known,' the spokesman said. The Pay Trend and Research Unit, the standing commission's executive arm, hopes to finish the task before the end of this year. 'The survey will be given high priority,' said the unit's head Rupert Cheung Ming-bor. It is understood the survey should have been carried out before the handover but was delayed for fear of undermining staff morale.