THE Customs and Excise Department will consider contracting out work to allow staff to spend more time on anti-piracy work, the department's outgoing chief said yesterday. On a Commercial Radio phone-in programme, Commissioner for Customs and Excise Lawrence Li Shu-fai said the jobs to be contracted out would involve support work. This would include sorting seized pirated video compact discs into different categories and contacting copyright owners. Mr Li, who will start his pre-retirement leave next month, said the move would allow the 200 officers responsible for anti-piracy work to focus on investigation and arrests. During yesterday's radio programme, one caller criticised the department as 'incompetent' over its crackdown on shops that sold pirated goods. Mr Li said the department sometimes did not immediately launch an operation on all areas reported to have sold pirated goods because the number of officers assigned to anti-piracy work was limited. But, he said: 'In the coming year, we are planning to strengthen our manpower by adding more than 40 staff [on anti-piracy work].' He said the department could also supplement its staff from other units during operations. Mr Li said because Hong Kong was a free society, it would be difficult to eradicate piracy as long as such business was profitable. To help solve the problem, he said education had to be improved to instil the message that it was an insult to buy pirated goods. His plea came as a press report said Tung Chee-hwa had bought an allegedly pirated Hello Kitty wheel of fortune on New Year's Eve. A spokeswoman from the Chief Executive's Office said: 'It's not the case that Mr Tung deliberately chose the wheel of fortune.' He had bought them after being offered them free of charge.