Secretary for Civil Service Lam Woon-kwong has made clear an overhaul of civil service pay levels is needed. But he said the Government was open-minded on when to conduct the review. Mr Lam said the bureau had studied the question of reviewing pay last year. But he stressed the difficulties in agreeing with staff on an acceptable method. The public service panel was split on whether it was appropriate to compare government pay with that in the private sector amid the economic downturn. Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun, of the Liberal Party, supported swift action, saying the Government could not insulate itself from restructuring in the private sector. But Lee Cheuk-yan, of the Confederation of Trade Unions, said wages at the top and the lower ranks in the private sector had been moving in opposite directions. 'Such a review will lead to a pay cut in the lower ranks. I'd rather not deal with it,' Mr Lee said. Mr Lam said a review was inevitable under the policy of keeping civil service pay comparable to that of the private sector. 'It's not a question of whether we do it or not. The question is when to do it,' he said. The Government will study the need for a regular review, and ways to speed it up so wage details would not become outdated when put into recommendations for implementation.