Restoring confidence in the economy was more important than making 'symbolic gestures' such as pay cuts for civil servants, a senior official said yesterday. Secretary for Health and Welfare Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong said the issue of suggested pay cuts for civil servants should be discussed. But he added: 'The most important thing is that we solve the problem of confidence. It is better than taking symbolic moves. Personally, the amount of pay is not my prime concern . . . the most important thing is to get my job done.' Dr Yeoh said his salary had fallen from about $5 million a year to $2 million since he moved from the Hospital Authority. Leading banker and legislator David Li Kwok-po has called on senior officials to follow the example of their Singaporean counterparts and slash their salaries by 10 per cent. He also wants middle-ranking staff to take a five per cent cut. Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun has proposed an across-the-board 10 per cent cut. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa has rejected calls for a cut this year, adding the Government would stick to the pay adjustment mechanism in determining next year's pay levels. Dr Yeoh agreed that the existing system should be followed. He added: '[Pay cuts] might backfire as the morale of civil servants and the quality of the civil services might be undermined.' Hong Kong Civil Servants' General Union chairman Cheung Kwok-biu also rejected the call for pay cuts, adding that middle-ranking civil servants, and even low-ranking ones, might face pay cuts in the future. The Senior Non-Expatriate Officers Association said it did not agree with any pay cuts.