More municipal services will be privatised in a Regional Services Department move that could save taxpayers $500 million. The plans call for more private firms to be hired to clean toilets, collect refuse, clean markets, sweep streets, deliver books to libraries and even clean up the department's offices. Plans to create 314 jobs between now and next year will be shelved to contain staff growth, the department says in a report to the Finance Committee. A directive has been delivered by the Director of Regional Services Helen Yu Lai Ching-ping, asking section heads to adhere to zero-growth policy. In an unavoidable case where extra workers are needed, part-time or contract staff should be hired. The report estimates the measures can help save $500 million in 1998-99. Since the early 1990s, the department has started privatising municipal services. The report says the Provisional Regional Council's policy is to contract out its services where practical to boost cost-effectiveness. In-house office cleaning and computer maintenance have also been contracted out. The report advises against privatising food hygiene and venue management.