Pressure is mounting on the Financial Secretary and his successor to keep a tight grip on civil service spending rather than introduce new taxes to reduce the budget deficit. Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun said that the number of senior posts in the civil service was higher than four years ago, despite the regional financial crisis. 'Taxpayers shouldn't be asked to foot the bill for government over-hiring and overpaying,' he said. 'Civil servants are still too generous to themselves.' The fresh call for greater austerity comes as Donald Tsang Yam-kuen puts the final touches to his budget next month before making way for his successor, banker Antony Leung Kam-chung. Mr Tsang will replace Anson Chan Fang On-sang as chief secretary for administration when she retires in April. Although civil service unionists fear Mr Leung might push for more privatisation and lay-offs, Mr Tien said more should be done to help keep costs to a minimum. 'Mr Tsang and his designated successor Mr Leung can't expect taxpayers to go on carrying a heavier burden,' he said. The legislator, speaking on the RTHK radio programme Letter to Hong Kong, said public spending continued to rise despite a recruitment freeze and job cuts. 'The Liberal Party thinks the alternative to tax increases should be government austerity, which the administration has preached and not practised,' he said. Mr Tien, who represents the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce in the Legislative Council, said Mr Tsang should adjust his last budget, due to be delivered on March 7, in the light of the slowdown in the US economy. 'How history grades his tenure is being decided right now as he puts the finishing touches to his farewell budget, which must stand as a testament to his competence, vision and understanding of the global economy.'