ABOUT 600 senior contract posts in the Government will be opened for competition next year under a proposed long-term policy on localisation. The positions, which are occupied by 222 locals and more than 300 expatriates, will be subject to selection exercises among eligible candidates after the officers' contracts expire, according to the Deputy Secretary for the Civil Service, Christopher Jackson. He said the measure, which was to replace the demotion arrangement currently adopted to govern expatriates' transfer to local terms, was planned in favour of taxpayers. Mr Jackson said: 'It is not a very comfortable situation to taxpayers because the existing policy on localisation allowed the expatriates to maintain their pay and benefits after being demoted. 'We need to work out a more permanent solution to treat all agreement officers the same . . . and to make sure the best persons are chosen for the jobs,' he said. The proposal, which the Government is to discuss with departments and staff unions next month, will be applied to all officers whose contracts expire after September 1, 1995, and are above Master Pay Scale point 45. The Legal Department and the works group departments, such as the Buildings Department, will be the most affected as they consist of a large number of contract positions. The police force, the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Judiciary would be excluded from the scheme because the localisation package was not applicable to them, said Mr Jackson. He said the new rule would not specify whether the posts would still be made on a contract or a permanent basis. Before the controversial localisation row, all contract staff usually had their terms automatically renewed. In an effort to defuse the bitterness among locals, expatriates and legislators over transfer arrangements for the overseas staff, the Government launched an interim measure in July which allowed the eligible staff to transfer to local terms under the condition of possible demotion. Chairman of the Senior Non-expatriate Officers Association, Hui Kwok-hung, said the localisation policy would become meaningless if the Government failed to add a requirement that people taking up senior positions should know Cantonese. Mr Jackson said knowledge of Cantonese would not be an added requirement for staff recruitment or promotion. But Cantonese training has been reinforced for senior expatriate officers with the view that the language becomes increasingly important to the jobs.