Unfair comparisons skew civil servants' pay study: lawmaker

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 April, 2007, 12:00am

A lawmaker has accused the government of being unfair by including public bodies in a pay comparison between the public and private sectors.

But officials are adamant that such public bodies, some of which are funded by taxpayers or owned by the government, have independent pay structures.

The Executive Council ruled on Tuesday that there was no need to adjust civil service salaries after a survey of 97 companies found the differences were within a range of plus or minus 5 per cent.

Among the companies used in the pay study were the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority, the Urban Renewal Authority, the Housing Society, the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, the Airport Authority, the Trade Development Council and the Tourism Board.

Tourism Board executive director Clara Chong Ming-wah was paid more than HK$4.56 million last year. James Blake, chief executive officer of the KCRC, was paid HK$4.19 million, while Airport Authority chief executive officer David Pang Ding-jung picked up HK$6.9 million.

The chairwoman of the Legislative Council's Finance Committee, Emily Lau Wai-hing, questioned whether the survey should have covered government-owned bodies.

'There is a fundamental problem [in including] those bodies. The principle should be comparing with the private sector. It's just unfair,' she said. The government was being hypocritical in positioning itself as a good employer while denying the working poor a minimum wage, she said.

'I think the government has to convince the public that the survey has been done in a fair manner.'

But Democratic Party legislator Cheung Man-kwong said it was acceptable to include public bodies in the survey because they formed part of the labour market.

A Civil Service Bureau spokeswoman said those organisations determined their remuneration independently.

In 2002, a government pay review of 197 senior executives from 20 government-funded bodies concluded that the salaries in 13 bodies were in line with their civil service counterparts.

Missing out

Civil servants have had three pay cuts in six years. The maximum they received in their last pay rise was 4.99%