Civil servants' allowances will not be scrapped despite warnings that they encourage officers to demand more, a top official said yesterday. Deputy Secretary for Civil Service Duncan Pescod said allowances in cases of genuine need would be rationalised and retained after a review. Mr Pescod said the allowances served to compensate for duties not covered by salaries. 'It gives flexibility so that we don't need to have a myriad of small-range pay scales,' he said. 'I can't say even though we now do the review that we'll get rid of the wide range of allowances. What I'm going to do is to rationalise them. They are going to exist.' The Legco public service panel heard the annual payout for major allowances reached $1.7 billion by February, including $533 million in acting allowances and $775 million for overtime work. Democratic Party legislator Cheung Man-kwong questioned the justification for what he described as 'bizarre' allowances. 'It encourages officials to demand allowances when they are asked to do extra work,' he said. Panel vice-chairman Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun of the Liberal Party said allowances would undermine the sense of responsibility. Mr Pescod said the public should not have the impression that civil servants were constantly asking for extra pay to do special duties. He said staff would only be paid when they performed duties eligible for allowances.