TOP bureaucrats look likely to be recruited on contract terms following proposals initiated by the Chief Executive to make them more responsible for their decisions. Secretary for Constitutional Affairs Michael Suen Ming-yeung said yesterday the current pensionable-terms system would no longer work. A senior civil servant now executes policies approved collectively by the Government and he or she can only be disciplined if found to have made serious mistakes. In his Policy Address last week, Tung Chee-hwa said he appreciated that the public wanted the Government to be more accountable. According to initial outlines, the system would be modelled on the private sector. A bureau chief could be offered a gratuity after the satisfactory completion of his term. Those who fail to deliver would not have their contracts renewed. The system could cover the secretaries heading more than 20 bureaus. Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie, Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Secretary for Health and Welfare Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong are now hired on contracts but not under terms related to accountability. A steering group chaired by Mr Tung is due to release its proposals in one year. The group also includes Mrs Chan, Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, Secretary for Civil Service Joseph Wong Wing-ping and Mr Suen. Mr Suen, who briefed legislators on Mr Tung's initiative yesterday, said bureau chiefs would have to be hired on contract terms. 'The accountability system means we may have to step down if we are not doing good enough. The pensionable system does not work.' He did not rule out the possibility of some bureau chiefs preferring to quit but said the Government would recruit outsiders to fill vacancies. About $200 million will be reserved for compensating those who choose not to join the new system. Legislators in general supported the reform but some doubted Mr Tung's sincerity. Citing the Legco no-confidence vote in June against Housing Director Tony Miller over a series of construction scandals, Democrat Fred Li Wah-ming said: 'The Government simply ignores the legislature. How can we have confidence in Mr Tung?' The motion was passed in June, but Mr Miller insisted on staying in office, although Housing Authority chairwoman Rosanna Wong Yick-ming - who was also named in the motion - resigned before the debate. Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier, cited the Robert Chung opinion poll saga. The Chief Executive's senior special assistant, Andrew Lo Cheung-on, allegedly pressured University of Hong Kong pollster Robert Chung Ting-yiu to stop carrying out surveys on Mr Tung's popularity. An inquiry into the allegations described Mr Lo as a 'poor and untruthful witness', prompting Mr Tung to defend him as 'an honest and reliable person' and to say he did not need to quit. 'So people only need to be responsible to Mr Tung. If they can make Mr Tung happy, they need not bear any responsibility,' Ms Lau said. Chan Kam-lam, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, said there might not be enough people to fill the vacancies if too many bureau chiefs quit, because the Basic Law required principal officials to have lived in the SAR for more than 15 years.