The government's consultant helped seek cuts in 2003 Civil servants say they have no confidence in the government's salary review after learning that it is being carried out by a consultancy that helped a business group lobby for a civil service pay cut two years ago. Unionists were infuriated to discover yesterday that the project to compare their pay levels with the private sector had been awarded to Watson Wyatt Worldwide. The firm conducted a survey for the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce in 2003, which found some civil servants' salaries exceeded those of private-sector counterparts by more than 200 per cent. Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants' Association spokesman Peter Wong Hyo yesterday said government officials were evasive when asked if they knew the consultancy had helped the chamber's campaign. He accused Watson Wyatt of using biased methodologies to produce distorted findings. 'It just used the salary data readily available from its database to do the comparison,' Mr Wong said. 'The credibility of the consultancy is in question. It's a matter of confidence. We demand that the government appoint another one before moving on.' The Civil Service Bureau had hoped to finish the pay comparison by the end of the year and planned to freeze staff salaries until the pay gap had narrowed. But the controversy has sparked fears that the exercise will be delayed further or collapse. Mr Wong would not speculate on the outcome if the staff insisted on Watson Wyatt being replaced. He said Secretary for the Civil Service Joseph Wong Wing-ping had said he would seek legal advice on the issue, but did not say when staff would be briefed on the matter. 'We were simply told by the government that the methodologies used this time would be different. 'Officials also said the consultant's previous surveys were irrelevant,' Peter Wong said. A spokesman for the Civil Service Bureau last night said the tendering process for the pay review had followed established procedures. He said the government would make every effort to ensure the review was conducted in a professional and fair manner. Findings would also be made public to enhance transparency, he added.