A planned rent allowance scheme would bring newly-recruited expatriate government officers into line with local colleagues. At present, expatriate officers employed on contract are entitled to rental allowances without any time limit. Their terms are better than those enjoyed by local colleagues seeking to buy flats under the Home Financing Scheme, which is available for 10 years. The amount available per month for local officers varies from $16,350 to $56,310 for employees earning at least $45,240. Under the proposed Rent Allowance scheme, all officers earning this amount will be eligible for entitlements. The rates are pegged to the Home Financing Scheme and will only be available for 10 years for rentals. Those wishing to buy property may opt to join the Home Financing Scheme instead of drawing rental allowances for the remainder of the 10-year period. Under the new plan officers recruited directly from outside Hong Kong can be provided with hotel accommodation for the first 30 nights. Additional assistance in the form of interest-free loans will be considered on applications for rental deposits and other costs. The Government will seek the endorsement of the Finance Committee for the proposed scheme. Leung Chi-chiu, chairman of the Senior Non-Expatriate Officers' Association, welcomed the proposal. 'The rental allowance previously enjoyed by the expatriates was 20 to 30 per cent higher than the local officers . . . it is not fair to offer different benefits if their work is the same,' he said.